Tell Time to the Hour and Half Hour

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SWBAT tell times to the hour and half hour using analog and digital clocks.

Big Idea

It’s all about time! In this lesson students will begin to understand the concept of the differences between the hour and the minute hands.

Activating Strategy

10 minutes

When starting this lesson, I begin by having the students practice counting by 5’s to 60.  The idea of doing this is to prepare them for the idea that a clock is based on increments of five. 


I discuss activities that might take about a minute (like tying your shoes, washing your hands) and activities that might take about an hour (cleaning your room, going to the grocery store).  This will get the students to begin to understand the concept of time.  To reinforce this concept, during the day discuss which of your normal activities take about an hour or half an hour.  For example: specials may take about half an hour, and math may take an hour.

The standard MD.B.3 requires students to be able to tell and write time to the hour and half hour using analog and digital clocks.  In this lesson, students begin to distinguish the differences between the minute and the hour hand.  They also begin to understand that the minute hand moves around the clock faster than the hour hand.

Teaching Strategies

15 minutes

I show 8:00 on a demonstration analog clock.

  • What time does the clock show? (8 o’clock)
  • How can you move the hour hand to show half past 8:00? (Move the hour hand so it points halfway between 8 and 9.)

I then invite a volunteer to move the hour hand to show half past 8:00.

I show students the two clocks on the PowerPoint presentation (Time to the Hour and Half Hour).  Using a demonstration clock, I show students how the minute hand rotates around the clock, along with the hour hand.  I tell them that the minute hand shows us the minutes, and the hour hand points to the hour.  I then ask them:

  • How is the minute hand different from the hour hand?  (The minute hand is longer than the hour hand.)
  • How is the minute hand different at 1:00 and half past 1:00? (The minute hand has moved from the 12 to the 6.)

I then allow students to use individual clocks to practice moving the hands to show the hour and then then half hour.  I encourage them to make connections between how the hour hand moves and how the minute hand moves.

I then show students the second page of the PowerPoint presentation (resources section), and count the tick marks and explain why there are 5 minutes between each number.  I count aloud by fives to reinforce that at the half hour, the minute hands shows 30 minutes after the hour.  I call on volunteers to write the times for the clocks on the next three slides.  I also guide the discussion as follows:

  • How can you tell which is the hour hand? (The hour hand is shorter than the minute hand.)
  • Where is the minute hand at half past the hour? (The minute hand points to the 6.)
  • Why is half past 10:00 written as 10:30? (The minute hand shows 30 minutes after 10:00.)

In these pictures, the students are writing the time on the board.

Independent Practice

30 minutes

For the independent practice portion of this lesson, I have students use the worksheet (Time to the Hour and Half Hour worksheet).  This allows them to practice recognizing time to the hour and half hour.

For struggling students, Ahead of time, I prepare display cards that show times on an analog clock to the hour and half hour.  While the other students work independently, I work with this group by displaying the card showing a time to the hour, such as 8:00, and asking the students:

  • Where does the hour hand point? (8)
  • Where does the minute hand point? (12)
  • What time does this clock show? (8:00)

Now display the card that shows half past the hour (8:30). Repeat the questions. Discuss how the placement of the hour hand and minute hand is different for time to the hour and time to the half hour.


5 minutes

To close out this lesson, I display Time to the Hour and Half Hour summary powerpoint with a sample clock and have students write their answers down as a ticket out the door.