Learning to Tell Time

Language & Literacy

5–6 years

Tick, tock goes the clock. This simple, hands-on activity is great for teaching children how to tell the time. Learning to tell the time is an important life skill which helps the development of social and behavioural skills such as responsibility, time management, and self-dependence.


  • Large sheet of paper or cardboard box
  • Black construction paper
  • Black marker
  • Sticky tape
  • Coloured construction paper (Optional)
  • Coloured pens, pencils, or crayons (Optional)


  1. Make your clock face by cutting a large circle from your paper or cardboard (about 85cm in diameter).
  2. Make the ‘hour’ and ‘minute’ hands by cutting one long and one short arrow from black construction paper.
  3. Use a black marker to identify the centre of the clock face where both hands connect.
  4. Write the numbers 1 to 12 around the clock face or cut out the numbers from colourful construction paper and stick them to the clock face. Make the numbers large and colourful so that your child can easily identify them.

Telling the time

Physically manipulating the hands of a clock makes it easier for your child to grasp the concept of time. Apply sticky tape to the back of the clock hands and carefully reposition each time.

  1. Explain to your child which hand is the ‘hour hand’ (long arrow) and which is the ‘minute hand’ (short arrow).
  2. Call out a time and ask your child to use the hands to identify it, e.g. 4pm. Explain that both hands can only move in a ‘clockwise’ direction.
  3. Start with full hour times, e.g. 4pm and then progress to half hour and then minutes, e.g. 4:30pm, 4:10pm.

At Learning Jungle, we believe all children are capable, confident and full of potential. Co-learning empowers your child to take initiative. Encouraging child participation and engaging in open-ended, thought-provoking conversation throughout play is important for healthy child development.

Conversations with your child

  • Which one is the ‘hour hand’?
  • Which one is the ‘minute hand’?
  • Which direction is clockwise?
  • Can you show me 6 o’clock?
  • Can you show me 8:15?

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