Teaching time along with measurement in 2nd and 3rd grades can be difficult. The main reason is that measuring (up until this point) can be pretty concrete. Your students can see how tall someone is, they can weigh a rock, and they can fill a tablespoon of water, but they can’t see, touch, weigh time. It’s abstract. They can’t go into a store and buy some minutes (though I wish I could). Also students have a warped view of time. When a parent says “Just a minute” or “Give me a second.” Is it really just a minute or a second? I am guilty of saying “You need to go to bed in ten minutes” and then forget a 1/2 an hour later. It’s confusing. And to top it off, when teaching elapsed time, time does not use standard place value, an hour is not 100 minutes.
So while I support the common core standards, teaching elapsed time to third graders (3.MD.1) is not easy. Here are some tips to help:
1. Talk about time a lot and really mean it. If they need to clean up in 5 minutes, make sure it is five minutes. I use my iPad and set the timer so they can all see the minutes count down.
2. Make a schedule on the board that includes the time to start and the time to end, i.e. math – 10:15 to 11:30. Use this schedule to lead class discussions – “We are going to have a longer break today, it will be a 1/2 an hour. If we go out at 11:20, what time will we come back?”
3. Make sure you have an analog clock that is big. I have updated my clock to include minute “flowers.” (FREE clock clipart for time flowers and petals)
4. Teach strategies, don’t teach algorithms (like subtracting time and converting hours to minutes), it’s too hard and the algorithm doesn’t apply to other things.
Here are a couple of strategies:
– Set up a T-Chart with the start time and end time.
– Provide a time number line as a math manipulative that your students can use to figure out elapsed time problems. (FREE number line is available in my TPT store).
I hope this will help you with this difficult subject. If you have any tips, please comment below.
Here are two other time resources I have in my store:
Thanks for taking the “time” to read this!
– Deirdre, aka Evil Math Wizard