Preschool Homeschooling

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Telling the Time

Develop skills required for telling the time with these easy preschool math activities.

Skills for Telling the Time

telling the time
Below is a list of skills that a child will need to develop for telling the time eventually, as well as some activities to do that will help develop these skills.

1. Recognise numbers: up to 12 for analogue clocks and up to 59 for digital clocks

Draw a Face Game
Dot-to-dot Activity
Clock Race Activity

2. Understand units for measuring time: A child must know that there are 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and have some understanding of how long these units of time are.

Racing Time Game

3. Count in fives up to sixty

4. Understand simple fractions: quarter, half

Activities: fold paper into quarters, cut sandwiches, apples etc. into fractions

5. Understand digital and analogue clocks


6. Understand that time passes:This includes days, weeks, months, years as well as seconds, minutes and hours.

Activities: Make a seasons poster or scrapbook.
Make a family time line with photos of relatives like grandparents, parents and record weddings, births, anniversaries and other family highlights.

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Steps for Telling the Time


Take it slowly and do not necessarily expect your child to complete learning all of the above at preschool level.

1. Concentrate on telling the time 'on the hour' to start with.
Using a large clock ask how many big numbers are on the clock? Have the children point to the hour hand. Tell them that when the hour hand moves from one number to the next, one hour has passed. Explain to them what you can you do in an hour?

2. When your child has learned this, then introduce the half hours.
Ask them what you can do in half an hour.

3. Then teach the quarters - 'quarter to' and 'quarter past' which are much more difficult.

4. After this stage encourage your child to use 'nearly' and 'just gone' or 'just past' before moving on to the concept of five minute intervals.
Then point to the minute hand. Tell your children that when the minute hand moves from one tick mark to the next, one minute has passed. Ask them what they do in a minute. Ask them to do something for one minute like run on the spot, hold their arms up etc.

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Other Time-related activities

Make a clock for telling the time

You will need per child/per clock:

one paper plate
brad fastener
card to make hands
felt-tipped marker or crayons


1. Cut out the hands of the clock and make a hole in the centre of the plate and at the base of the hands for the children before hand.
2. Show them how to fasten the hands onto the clock using the brad.
3. Write the numbers on the clockface.

Study shadows

Take your children outside during the morning and let them see the length of their shadows. Trace around them with chalk. At midday, return to the same spot and trace the shadows of each child again with another colour chalk.

Return again during late afternoon and trace their shadows for a third time. Ask for their observations.

Learn about the passing of time

Time is an abstract notion for many young children. Around 8 years of age they begin to notice passing time.

If you have a photo album or photos on your compuer show your children the pictures of themselves over the past year. Look at the different clothing they were wearing and the activities they were doing at different times (seasons) of the year.

Develop a Four Seasons Theme or make a Seasons Poster

Four Seasons Poster

Days of the week and months

Teach your children how many days there are in a week and the names of the days of the week.
Teach older children how many weeks are in a month and in a year by using the following rhyme:

Thirty days hath September, April, June and November
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except for February with twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year

The children can count this out on their knuckles starting from the baby finger knuckle on the left hand. All the knuckles represent months with 31 days and the dips between the knuckles represent the months with 30 days, except for February.

Here are more Tips for Teaching Preschool Maths.

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