When teaching time in KS1 we will initially introduce the minute hand by emphasising the position (rather than the number) to which they are pointing. Introduce the minute hand as a tool to help us check that we have read the hour hand correctly using a clock face, without numbers divided into quarters.
Explain that when the minute hand points straight up, that means it’s o’clock. Turn the hand to show half a turn, so the hand is straight down. Its turned half way around so this shows it is half past. Leave quarters for a while, until these first two are secure.
Getting the children to stand up and do half turns themselves can help here, as some children find the whole concept of turns really tricky.
Then get the children on their little clocks to make o’clock and half past using the minute hand (their clocks should only have a minute hand which should be longer than the hour hand they have previously been using).
At this point you will need two clock faces. One is going to show the hours and the other will show just the minutes.
Now, using both clocks side by side, show how the minute hand is there to help us check we have read the hour hand correctly. Demonstrate this on your two post it clocks like this:
Explain that we look at our hour clock first. It looks like it’s be 2 o’clock. But now we check by looking at our minute clock. Is the minute hand pointing straight up? If yes, then we’ve checked its 2 o’clock.
One important thing to note (that seems obvious to us but is not to some children) is this: when we say the hand is pointing, we mean the very tip of the arrow and not the wider parts of the arrowhead.
Make this clear by drawing lines from the tip out to the circumference of the circle can help children see what we mean.
This is also a useful strategy for later, to show when the hand might at first glance seem to be pointing “at” a numeral but is actually a little way past e.g. when teaching minute intervals.
Go through the same procedure for half past. Check the hour hand clock first. It looks like it is halfway between the 2 and the 3, so it is probably half past 2:
So let’s check by looking at the minute hand:
It is pointing straight down, so we were right, it was half past. Then show this clock:
Reflect on how, in this instance, it is hard to tell exactly where the hour hand is pointing. Draw a line onwards from the arrow tip.
This will show that it is slightly past the 2, so must be later than 2 o’clock, but not quite half way between the 2 and the 3, so it is probably not half past either.
Maybe it is quarter past. At this point, ask: has our minute hand gone a quarter of the way around its clock? If so, we will know it is quarter past. Now you’re ready to introduce the quarter turn and the idea of quarter past.
Do lots of examples where children have to read the two clocks side by side, as below:
When you introduce quarter to, do this by using your minute hand clock starting straight up and moving the minute hand backward towards what would be the ‘9’ position, were you using numbers.
Explain how the hand is now a quarter of the way to the top, so is showing a quarter to:
Children will need lots of practice reading examples like these, but once they have got it, you can make the point that in real life, people don’t wear two watches.
In real life, both hands are on the same watch. To read a real clock or watch, make sure you read the hour hand first and then use the the minute hand to check you were right. At this point, you can finally introduce regular clocks and do lots of practice reading o’clock, half past, quarter past and quarter to.
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