Telling Time: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Audrey Akins

Audrey has more than a decade of experience teaching elementary. She has a bachelor's in journalism and a master's in education.

In this lesson, you will learn the parts of a clock face and the basics of telling time. When you read a clock, you use the building blocks of the hour and half hour to tell time.

Parts of the Clock

Let's say you you wanted to get to school by 7:30 so that you could eat breakfast, had to be at a friend's birthday party by 1:15, or wanted to go to bed at 9:00 so that you could get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's field trip. The only way you could do those things is by knowing how to tell time.

The short black hand counts the hours; the long black hand counts the minutes, and the thin red hand counts the seconds.
Analog clock

To begin with, there are twelve numbers on a clock, and each of those numbers represents an hour. The first time the hands rotate from 1 to 12, the time is labeled AM. AM represents the morning hours. The second time the hands rotate from 1 to 12, the time is labeled PM. PM represents the afternoon, evening, and night hours. The direction that the hands rotate in is called clockwise. The tick marks between the numbers are each counted as one. The number of tick marks from one number to the next is five. This is useful when you begin telling time to the nearest half hour and minute.

When you're learning to tell time on an analog clock, there are also three hands you must know. The hour hand is the short hand. The number it's pointing to indicates the hour. The minute hand is the long hand that tells you how many minutes have passed in that hour. The other hand on the clock is the second hand. It's usually the thinnest hand on the clock and moves every second. It tells you how many seconds have passed. This is the fastest moving hand on the clock. The hands on the clock go all the way around the clock twice a day.

Telling Time to the Hour

One hour has 60 minutes in it. This can be counted by starting at the 12 and counting the tick marks all the way around the clock. You also can begin at the 1 and count by fives at each number, all the way around the clock. Once those 60 minutes have passed, a new hour begins. When the long minute hand is pointing to the 12 and the short hour hand is pointing to any number, the number the short hand is pointing to marks the hour.


For example, when it's time to get up for school, the minute hand is pointing to the 12 and the short hour hand is pointing to the 5. It's five o'clock in the morning, and written as 5:00 AM.

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