How to teach the parts of the clock

Written by rosalind mohammed
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How to teach the parts of the clock
Most schools still use analogue clocks in the classrooms to tell time. (clock image by Elena Nabokova from

Teaching your child the parts of a clock and how these elements interact to tell time is an important lesson that can be taught at home without any special tools except a simple analogue clock. Digital clocks can be read with ease, but it is imperative that your child learns how time actually moves forward. This is simply told through the traditional analogue model. Reading the time from this type of clock will develop critical thinking skills, math and logical reasoning.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Analogue clock

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  1. 1

    Begin by naming each part for your child and explaining what the purpose of each part is. Start with the face; explain that the numbers are laid out on this part in numerical order in a circle moving toward the right. This is called clockwise. For the future, it will be useful for your child to know what this direction means. Also explain the opposite, counterclockwise, as the numbers are counted backward toward the left.

  2. 2

    Show your child the hands. The short hand is the hour hand and shows the hour of the day by pointing to it. The long hand is the minute hand and points to show the passing of the minutes. The short hand only moves noticeably on the hour, while the long hand moves as each minute passes. Explain that one hour has 60 minutes and one minute has 60 seconds. Every 60 seconds, the minute hand will move clockwise around the face. Every 60 minutes, the hour hand will move clockwise around the face.

  3. 3

    There are 12 numbers in total, and the clock will do two full rotations in a day to match the 24 hours. These rotations explain the morning and evening according to the clock. The numbers represent their face value when the hour hand is on them, but not the minute hand. When the minute hand is on the numbers, the time is told in multiples of five. For example, if the hour hand is on the 12 and the minute hand is on the 1, the time is 12:05. The reason for this is there are 60 minutes in an hour and the minute hand reads the numbers according to this schedule.

  4. 4

    Set the clock to random times and help your child tell the time until he feels confident reading it on his own.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a clock with numerical digits instead of a clock with roman numerals, as telling time can be confusing at first and seeing the numbers in the accustomed manner will help your child retain the information better instead of trying to decipher the new symbols.
  • If your child has a learning disability or trouble with math, learning how to tell time on an analogue clock may prove rather difficult and will require extra time and patience. Only move to digital if she absolutely cannot grasp this method after several attempts and professional consultation.

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