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Teaching the concept of time

Q I am about to introduce the concept of time to my P1 class (o'clock and half past). Do you have any exciting ideas or great resources?

A Time is difficult for children to understand because it is completely abstract, unlike measures such as length, where they can actually see what they are measuring.

Many young children will be aware of digital time in household appliances such as video recorders, hi-fi systems and cookers and that timers are important to record programmes and reheat food in the microwave.

In P1, children may be aware that time is told on clocks by numbers but they are unlikely to have any sense of what this means. There are two aspects of time that children need to learn - the passage of time and the associated language.

Calling attention to the classroom clock at playtime, gym time and home time, for example, will give children experience of clocks as a measure of time. Calendars will help recognition of the sequence of the days. Birthday charts with the months marked will introduce the months in order. This would be a beginning of the recognition that clocks and calendars are used to mark the passage of time and the use of language to include the days of the week, the months, o'clock times, minutes, hours, days etc.

Obvious resources such as clocks and watches as well as sand timers, rocker timers and water timers can encourage the identification of a well-defined period such as tidying-up time. A clock in the home area may be set to show breakfast time and lunchtime and may be included in play.

Relating time to real events helps children to appreciate time intervals.

For example: by the time you have put the books away it will be home time.

Small group oral language activities, where a child identifies an event in the day and others are asked to identify before and after events, leads to an understanding of the cyclical nature of time.

The Edmark House Series of software can help with the language of time: time.htm

Details of a talking electronic clock that aims to solve time problems are available from: GBproductID=G7749

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