Telling the time

Teaching the time forms part of every primary syllabus. On the LearnEnglish Kids website there is a wealth of materials for introducing and practising this concept, ranging from simple games, to songs and stories through to more difficult activities to practise daily routine. On this page you will find ideas for using and exploiting these materials.

Go to http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-topics-time.htm

Teaching the time/revising numbers
If your students can already tell the time in their own language, then they are probably ready to learn how to tell the time in English. With younger children you may need to revise numbers first and introduce the concept of time slowly, starting with the simplest o'clock structure. There is a separate section on the website giving number activities. Go to http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-topics-numbers.htm

Begin teaching the time by presenting structures with the Time flashcards. Use the flashcards for lots of oral practice in class. Play games with them for consolidation and recycling in subsequent lessons. For example, stick the picture and word cards randomly on the board and ask children to come out to the board and find a pair. You could follow this up with the simple pair matching pelmanism game on the website http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-games-pelmanism-time.htm

Use your flashcards for other games too. Divide your class into two teams. Hold up a flashcard of a clock. One member of each team should run to the front and write the correct time on the board. Or you could hold up the word cards and have the children draw the clocks. They could play similar games in pairs as a ‘back to back' exercise, describing a flashcard stuck on the board.

An essential item of the primary teacher's toolkit is a clock. You can make you own clock for use in classroom drills. You can find a template at http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-print-clock.pdf. You will need some strong card and a paper fastener to attach the hands of the clock. Laminate/cover the clock in plastic if you can to make it last longer. Your students could also make mini versions of this clock in class. These can then be used for teacher to class practice - call out a time and ask children to show the correct time on their clock. They can do the same in pairs.

Another simple way of introducing ‘Time' is to use the traditional song ‘Hickory Dickory Dock' and the accompanying worksheet. Go to http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-songs-hickory.htm

A nice easy game for beginning the time is the listening game ‘What's the time?' where children have to move the hands of the clock to the correct time. There are three levels of difficulty in the game, progressing from ‘o'clock' to minutes. You could extend this game using a TPR (Total Physical Response) activity. Call out a time and ask the children to move their arms to represent the time. You can do this faster and faster to increase the fun factor or you could play in teams to introduce a competitive element.

You will find further simple introductory activities for the time on the worksheet ‘What's the time 2'. Go to
http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-print-time.pdf. This contains a draw on the clocks activity, sentences to complete and an activity based on a school timetable which you can extend by using your students' own weekly timetable.

Extending the topic - days and months
You can introduce further vocabulary teaching days of the week and the months of the year, again basic concepts at primary level. A useful interactive game can be found at http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-games-multimatch-time.htm. In this game students must identify which are the days and which are the months. You can also practise months using the simple song ‘Time for another year', a song with a very catchy tune which is suitable for all levels. Go to http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-songs-months-2.htm.

Your students can sing along to the song which provides good pronunciation practice for the months. You can play the ‘squash the monkey' hangman game to practise the spellings of the months as a follow-up.

Extending structures - daily routine and the present simple/continuous
To give practice in present tense structures and learn about time zones around the world you can use the story ‘One moment around the world'. http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-stories-time.htm. The story begins with Ryan and what he is doing, then hops around the world to view children in different countries doing different activities at the same moment. Students must calculate the time in the interactive element between pages. There is an excellent worksheet to accompany the story. Children listen and read then complete the times in the different countries on the world map. Then they add their own town or city and work out the time. You could use this map as a basis for more oral work in class - or blown up it would make an excellent display poster for the classroom wall. You could do further work on the names of countries if you wished. Extend structural practice by asking the children to remember what each child is doing in each city!

You could do this as a written drill or an oral guessing game. Then ask individual children in the class to mime the actions.

Follow up work can be done using the game ‘Ryan's Day', which focuses on word order in the present tense and consolidates the time. Go to http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-games-word2word5-time.htm. Students must click words in the correct order in a race against the clock. This is a hugely motivating fun-type task which children will be happy to play competitively. You could extend this with more jumbled sentences written on the board or on word cards. For more ideas on how to practise Daily Routine in the classroom go to http://www.britishcouncil.org/languageassistant-primary-tips-routines-and-habits.htm

Games to practise and recycle
You can download Time Bingo cards which are very useful for consolidation work on the time. There are six different versions. Distribute them randomly in the class. You could also use these bingo cards as the basis of pair work. Ask the children to read out the times on the clocks. Their partner can point to the correct clock or draw on an empty clock.

Finally, if you have plenty of space in the classroom or a school yard which you can use for games with the children you could try the traditional game ‘What's the time Mr Wolf?'. This is a traditional English playground game which will provide lots of enjoyment for younger children. For lots more ideas on how to play and exploit this game go to this worksheet on activities for teaching time

By Sue Clarke

When you have used some of these ideas, why not come back to this page and leave a comment below to tell us how your class went. Let us know too if you have any additional ideas!

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