Lean Back, Lean Back

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SWBAT label all parts of a clock. SWBAT identify the hour when the hour hand is between two numbers on an analog clock

Big Idea

Students build a clock in this lesson to get authentic, hands on practice with the parts of a clock.

Setting Up the Learning

5 minutes

See this link for a great resource! This document initially gave me the idea to leave off the minute hand for now.


Yesterday we talked about what a "minute" is and what an "hour" is. Today we are going to look closely at the tool we use to measure time, a clock!


We use clocks every day to figure out when we need to be places. We measure time to see how long things last. (I'll give classroom examples)


Today we are going to look carefully at the clock. Your job is to be able to label the parts of the clock and discuss how the hour hand works on the clock.

Opening Discussion

10 minutes

We are going to make a clock together today to help us think about the parts of the clock and how they work.

I'll show my class size clock, which is actually a tablecloth with numbers on it-the kids love it!

Explain parts of a clock: We will make an anchor chart to refer back to.


Hour Hand discussion:

  • The small hand tells the hour. The small hand moves really slow. 
  • What is happening to the hour hand when I move the big hand? The hour hand is moving too!
  • Sometimes the hour hand is pointing to the number and that makes it so easy. When it is pointing to the number already, we know the number. But when it is in the middle, we have to lean back, lean back.


Practice hour hand only: 

  • Right now the hour hand is on the 3. After I move it, it’s off the 3, so what do I have to do? "Lean back, lean back." What is the hour hand still on?
  • We will do a few more using this routine.


Partner Talk Check for Understanding: What are the parts of our clock? What do we do when the hour hand is in the middle of 2 numbers?


See video reflection for example of the "Lean Back" mnemonic. 


Clock Making

20 minutes

Clock Making:

Now we are going to make clocks for you to practice with. Your clock face is going to be this paper plate. (See attached clock face for the clock I'll have students glue on the paper plate)

  • What do we call the circle part of the clock?
  • Students write the big numbers all the way around the clock.
  • Use brads to attach a small "hand" (on small paperclip) to student clocks.


Guided Practice with Student Clocks:

  • Now let’s practice using the hour hand. Let’s put the hour hand on the 4. What hour is it? 4!
  • Now let’s move it a little past the 4. What hour is it? What time is it trying to get to? When the hand is not on the number, we always have to do what? "Lean back, lean back!"

Go through the same routine a few more times. 

Independent Practice

15 minutes

Students sort clocks that show only the hour hand on them. This allows them to focus on just what to do when the hour hand is not pointing directly to the hour. We will add the minute hand later!


All student groups will complete the sort today. 

Extension: Students who master today's activity and finish early can try their hands at the writing extension! Students use reasoning skills to determine which clock could represent a given time and write how they know. This is aligned with the CCSS focus on writing across the curriculum.


See attached documents for independent practice sheets.

See attached Lean Back!.MOV video for how a child used the mnemonic! Watch how she forgets what to do for a second and then uses the mnemonic to help her remember.


5 minutes

Review learning for the day.

Partner Talk: What do we do when the hour hand is off the number? 

Sing a clock song. See this song for an example-it seems babyish but the kids love it!