How to teach time zones to children

Written by laurel storm Google
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How to teach time zones to children
Understanding the concept of time zones is essential. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

With technology advancing in leaps and bounds and making the world feel smaller every day, it has become more important than ever before to understand time zones and their effect on global travel and communication. The concept can be difficult to grasp even for adults; when teaching it to children, begin by explaining why time zones exist and include quizzes and activities to help your pupils more easily understand it.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Globe
  • Torch or desk lamp
  • Europe time zone map
  • Large wall world map
  • World time zone map
  • Map pins
  • Labels

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  1. 1

    Pull the curtains and switch off the lights in the room. Switch on the torch or desk lamp and point it at the globe so that it is half illuminated, half in shadow. Explain to the children that the light represents the sun.

  2. 2

    Spin the globe slowly. Point out to the children how the sun illuminates only part of the Earth as it spins, meaning sunrise, sunset, noon and midnight don't happen simultaneously everywhere. Explain that this is why time zones exist, and that each time zone differs from the ones next to it by one hour.

  3. 3

    Open the curtains and switch the lights back on. Distribute a copy of the Europe time zone map to each child.

  4. 4

    Have the children identify important cities in various countries, such as London, Berlin, Lisbon, Madrid, Athens, Rome and Paris.

  5. 5

    Ask the children to calculate what time it is in different time zones. Begin by asking them what time it would be right now in different cities or countries; once they can make those calculations easily, give them a random time in a specific city or country and ask them to calculate the time in a different one.

  6. 6

    Distribute a copy of the world time zone map to each child and hang the large world map on the wall.

  7. 7

    Ask the children to tell you places they have visited, or locations where a friend or family member lives, outside of the United Kingdom.

  8. 8

    Ask the children to find out the time difference from the United Kingdom for each location using the world time zone map. Mark both the location and time difference on the large world map.

  9. 9

    Quiz the children on what time it would be in those locations right now, then ask them to calculate starting from a random time the same way they did with the Europe map.

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