Teaching Elapsed Time
February 18, 2004
To help children understand the concept of elapsed time, I draw a big clock on the floor (you can also make a clock from an old table cloth.) The clock is large enough that the students can walk on it. I give the students a story problem such as this: John went to the dentist at 3:00 p.m. He was there until 5:00 p.m. How long was John at the dentist? I might change it a bit and say, John went to the dentist at 3:00. He stayed for two hours. What time did he leave? The students walk around the clock to figure the elapsed time. Once the students get the hang of it, they make up their own story problems and solve them.
Recently, I have given each student personal clocks. I give them story problems and they use the clocks to find elapsed time. For homework, have the students keep a journal tracking the time it takes for them to do daily tasks like eating dinner, doing homework, getting ready for bed, etc. They can either figure out how much time has elapsed on their own or they can bring the journals to class to solve the problems. They can even trade and do one another's problems. This is also a great way to teach students how to "feel" time.
Everything about this lesson is fabulous. Solving story problems, creative thinking, gross motor, elapsed time, etc. This was a great success.