Audrey has more than a decade of experience teaching elementary. She has a bachelor's in journalism and a master's in education.
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:
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.
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:
To tell the time to the minute, begin by finding the hour: 4. Now, find the long hand. It's just past the 7, so you can count by fives up to 7 (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35). Then, count each line as one until you reach the long hand (36, 37, 38, 39). This tells you that it's 39 minutes after the hour, or 4:39.
Great work! Now, let's say that you get home from winning the game and hungry for dinner, which will be ready at 7:00. You look at the clock and see this:
Find the hour by seeing where the short hand is pointing: at the 6. Now, find the minutes. The long hand is after the 10, so you can count by fives up until that point (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50). Then, count by one. (51, 52, 53). It's 53 minutes past the hour, which means it's 6:53. Only 7 minutes until dinner!
While the short hand on a clock tells you the hour, the long hand tells you the minutes. To find the number of minutes past the hour, count by fives for each large number (1-12), then count by one for each line until you reach the long hand. With practice, you'll soon be able to tell the time to the minute just by glancing at the clock.
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