Who's got the time?

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SWBAT explain how to tell time to the 5 minutes.

Big Idea

There never seems to be enough time! Incorporate expository writing, telling time AND fun in this lesson where students get to create and write about their play watches!

Hook & Objective

5 minutes

CCSS Context:

The CCSS shift asks teachers to incorporate writing throughout the day, in every subject. In this lesson, students practice telling the time by writing a How-To guide for kindergarteners. This is a form of expository writing, which reflects another of the key shifts within the Common Core, the emphasis on expository literacy. 

This lesson also has students practice telling time to the 5 minute mark, which extends past the first grade standard (1MDB3), and goes to the second grade standard of telling time to the 5 minutes (2MDC7). This lesson can be used as an extension in first grade, or as a way to practice in 2nd grade!

Review past learning:

We have been learning how to tell time. Today we are going to help a kindergartener learn how to tell time by writing a How To guide for them!

Connect to the real world:

The kindergarteners have never learned how to tell time! They don't know when they need to be at lunch, or at PE, or even at recess. By writing a How to guide for them, we are going to be able to teach them to read the clock.


Your job today is: I can write the steps for how to tell time.

Opening Discussion

10 minutes

Present task: I am going to show you a time on my clock. We are going to think about what we have to do first, next, then and last to tell the time on this clock. 

Present the time: 5:10. 

  • Partner talk: What time does this show? How are you sure?

Now let's think about what we have to do first to tell this time. Pretend I am the kindergartener you are working with and I have never figured out what time it is before. 

  • I will do whatever students tell me so that they will see how specific their language needs to be. This is aligned to the CCSS MP6, "Attend to precision". Students have to be precise in their language, explaining exactly what I need to do.
  • Probing Questions: What do I need to do first? Where do I need to look? 

We will continue this until they told me how to tell the time in four steps. See Class Chart with Steps for the steps we came up with!

Student Share

10 minutes

We will follow a similar routine as in the Opening Discussion in partners. I'll present a new time: 4:30. Then I'll have students explain in partner groups and take turns explaining what to do first, next, then, last. 

After each section of the share, I'll quickly jot down what that person did in that step to tell the time. I will also add a quick visual for each step so my "not yet" readers can reference the pictures later when they need to structure their own writing.

Watch this video of how we tested our steps. We made sure they were clear by teaching a "pretend" Kindergartener. See the Trying the Steps video!

Independent Practice

15 minutes

Teacher prep: Each child needs a watch that has the hands drawn on to show a different time. The Watches for Play! are attached here! I will have the watches cut out by just cutting around the table. 

Differentiation: You know your kids best, so you'll know what time they will be able to handle! For my students who are still working to master the first grade standard of telling time to the half hour, I will give them a time to the :30 minute mark. For most of my other students, I'll give them a time to the 5 minute mark.

For students who struggle more with writing, I'll have them "write" as much as they can and then I'll scribe what they said below their writing. That way I have record of what they were intending to write.

I will not leave the steps up that we wrote as a class, but if you have children who need the picture support, you could leave the pictures up from the Student Share time as reminders.


1. Teacher staples or glues the watch around the child's wrist.

2. The child writes a How To guide for the Kindergarteners about how to read their specific watch. I'll have the kids write on this free (and adorable) How-to Writing Paper!

3. Early finishers can start on another watch if time.

See the attached Exemplar work picture!

Listen to this Just for Laughs! video. Kids say the funniest things.


10 minutes

I will have students share their writing with another student. That student will be able to give them feedback on what they wrote. I will model giving feedback to one student before students share in partners.

Feedback sentence stems:

You did a good job on ______________.

I didn't understand what you meant when you said ______________.

You forgot to tell me how to ____________.

Later in the day, we will take a "field trip" to a Kindergarten room so my students can share their writing and show their watches to a Kindergarten student.