How to Teach Telling Time in 2nd Grade

Teacher helping student draw a clock in white on chalkboard

This blog post is centered on 2nd grade telling time activities. These activities may also be applied to first and third grade Common Core MD standards. However, in this blog post, I will specifically address how to use these activities in your study of the 2nd grade standard 2.MD.7. Your students will learn a variety of strategies for telling and writing time to the nearest five minutes, using a.m. and p.m.

Standards for telling time:

  • 2nd Grade 2.MD 7: Tell and write time from analog and digital clocks to the nearest five minutes, using a.m. and p.m.

Introducing Telling Time

Telling time to the hour and half hour anchor chart

A great way to kick off your telling time unit is to begin with an anchor chart that serves as a spiral review of telling time skills they have previously learned. In first grade, students learn how to tell and write time in hours and half-hours. Reviewing telling time to the nearest hour and half-hour is a great refresher for students. This anchor chart provides a visual for students as they study a clock’s attributes and begin to build on their prior knowledge.

(Link: Brain Pop Telling Time Videos)

I love these interactive videos from BrainPop Jr that allow the students to work on a variety of time-telling skills.

1st Focus: Reading a Clock to Nearest 5 Minutes

Telling time clock cards with digital and analog clocks

After reviewing telling and writing time to the nearest hour and half-hour and looking at a clock’s attributes, students will be ready to learn how to read a digital or analog clock to the nearest 5 minutes. This standard is critical to everyday life, as well as the future success of the students with upper level telling time skills. Such skills include, telling and writing time to the nearest minute and elapsed time. It is essential that students understand how to read both a digital and analog clock and how the two relate. These hands-on telling time activities are a great way for students to practice reading a clock to the nearest 5 minutes and match each type of clock accordingly.

2nd Focus: Showing Time on a Blank Clock

Showing time on a blank clock activity with digital clock cards

Once the students begin to grasp and master the concept of telling time to the nearest 5 minutes, it is time to start showing time on a blank clock. Begin by teaching your students to show the hour hand first, or the short hand. Determine if it is pointing directly at an hour or if it is between two hours. This will help them determine what the hour is. Next, show the minute hand, or the long hand. When showing time to the nearest 5 minutes, it is helpful to demonstrate skip-counting by 5’s in order to help the students determine where the minute hand will go.

Telling time lends itself well to kinesthetic learning opportunities, therefore, these Judy Clocks are the perfect resource to bring out during this part of your telling time unit. Practice showing time first kinesthetically and then apply that knowledge to showing time independently.

Each of the links below are affiliate links to Amazon! To grab your own hands-on Judy Clock sets, click the links below:

Set of 6 student Judy Clocks

Single demonstration Judy Clock 

3rd Focus: Difference Between AM and PM

Telling time with A.M. or P.M word problem activity with dry-erase clock

Once the students have a good grasp on reading a clock and showing time, it is time to introduce the skill of telling time in terms of a.m. and p.m. This part of the unit is where you can engage their critical thinking and problem-solving skills with real-world application telling time activities. These will encourage the students to ask themselves what would make the most sense in the real world. You can build on the previous activities by having the students read clocks and show time along with determining if it is a.m. or p.m.

Telling Time Activities Hands-On Practice

Showing time puzzle activity with analog clock, digital clock, and words

It’s so important to provide your students with many opportunities and activities to practice each of these telling time to the nearest 5 minute concepts:

  • Reading a clock
  • Drawing hands on a clock
  • Using A.M. and P.M.

These activities can be used for whole group instruction, partner practice activities, center time, bell-ringers, exit slips, and assessments. With so many options, you can scaffold instruction as they become more independent. It is also important to have the students explain their thinking either verbally or in writing. This helps you as the teacher assess their level of mastery.

Suggested Telling Time Resource…

Time to the nearest 5 minutes activity pack

This unit breaks down this 2nd grade standard, teaching students how to tell time to the nearest 5 minutes. All of the images you see throughout this blog post come from the 2.MD.7 unit on telling time.

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