Telling Time to the Minute: 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'll review the parts of the clock and learn how to tell time to the nearest minute. Then, you can practice your new skill with examples as well as a quiz.

Parts of a Clock

You may be used to seeing digital clocks in everyday life--they display the time in an hour:minute format (like 12:15). But in this lesson, we'll discuss telling time by the minute on a traditional clock.

On a traditional clock, the short hand points to the hour, which is usually clearly marked on the clock face in large numbers (1-12). The long hand points to the minutes. Each small line on the clock is one minute. Now, let's apply this knowledge to tell time to the nearest minute.

Telling Time to the Minute

When you're telling time to the minute, you will first need to determine the hour by looking at the short hand. Which ever number the short hand is on or just after is the hour.

Next, find the nearest minute of the hour, you'll start at the 12, which represents zero minutes, and count the lines until you reach the long hand. But there's a shortcut--instead of counting every single line, you can count each large number as five minutes until you can't skip by fives anymore. (For instance, the 1 is five minutes, the 2 is ten minutes, and so on.) Then, you can count the single lines as one minute each.

Let's try this with an example. Say you're at school and look up at the clock just before it's time to go home. This is what you see:

time to the minute

The short hand is just past the 2, so it is 2 o'clock. The long hand is just past the 9, so you can count by fives up to the 9 on the clock (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 25, 40, 45). Then, begin counting by one for each line (46, 47, 48). That means it's 48 minutes after the hour, or 2:48.

Practice Time

Now let's try another example. Say that you're home from school relaxing before your big softball game. You have to leave by 5:00 to be there on time, so you look at the clock and see this:


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