Teacher Mama: A Homemade Teaching Clock

A Homemade Teaching Clock

 Boy Mama Teacher Mama  Homemade Teaching Clock

My son has recently become interested in telling time. I can tell by some of the things he has said that they have touched on it at school, but that is about all. So I created a teaching clock to use with him. I wanted something that could be taken apart and put back together and I wanted something that could be adapted to his learning needs as he develops. This is what I came up with.



  • cardboard circle (I cut mine from a box)
  • colored paper cut to the same size as the cardboard circle
  • 1 piece of colored paper
  • 1 piece of heavy-duty paper (cardstock, cereal box)
  • 1 brad/fastener
  • velcro circles
  • scissors
  • glue
  • pen
  • computer, printer

Mama’s Directions:

  1. Cut a circle from cardboard. I traced a dinner plate.
  2. Cut a piece of colored paper the same shape as the cardboard circle and glue the two together.
  3. Print the number template (see below), cut out numbers and glue them to a piece of colored paper if desired and cut them out again leaving a little bit of the colored paper showing.
  4. Place all the hooks (from the velcro) on the back of the numbers and place all the loops (from the velcro) on the clock face.
  5. Punch a hole in the middle of the clock.
  6. Cut out two arrows for the hour and minute hands.  One should be shorter than the other. Punch a hole in the end of each hand.
  7. Write “hour” on the hour hand and “minute” on the minute hand.
  8. Put the brad through the holes in the two hands and then through the hole in the center of the clock. Tape in back for easier turning.
  9. Place the numbers on the velcro dots on the clock.


Clock Skills

Analog vs Digital: Don’t be afraid of big words! Young children love them and feel empowered by them.  Explain to your child that this is an analog clock and then show them a digital clock and talk about their differences and similarities.  Do they need to know or even use these words? Maybe. Maybe not, but why not give them the knowledge and see what they do with it!

Clock Face:  I think we often assume that children know certain things and they don’t. That is why it is important to stop, rewind and start from the beginning.  Pull out this teaching clock (all parts in place) and tell your child about it.  Explain about the two hands on the clock and how they are different and how they are the same. Show where the numbers start and how you “go around the clock.” Show how the hands and the numbers work together.  Then take all the parts of the clock off and put it back together- together!

Hour Hand and Minute Hand:  Take what you did above a step further and talk with your child about how the two hands work together and how they move around the clock.  Highlight the fact that the hour hand is shorter than the minute hand and the hour hand moves more slowly than the minute hand.

O’Clock: O’Clock is usually the first time concept introduced and kids actually catch on quite quickly.  Tell your child that when the big hand or the minute hand is on the 12, it is always an “o’clock” time.  Demonstrate and practice.  Put the minute hand on 12 and the hour hand on 1 and say, “It is one o’clock because the hour hand is on the one and the minute hand is on the twelve.”  Then move the hour hand to another number and repeat. Do this several times and then have your child give it a try.

Counting by 5s: Counting by 5s is an important skill for telling time. Practice counting by fives with and without the clock.  Do not expect young children to be able to count by 5s. This is typically a skill taught in Grade 1.  That said, it is never to early to start and there are lots of great songs out there about counting by 5s.

Half-Past/ :30:  Usually half past/ :30 is the next clock skill addressed after “o’clock.”  Follow a similar routine as above.  Take a crayon and shade in half the clock one color and the other half another color to SHOW half.

More Challenging Clock Concepts

Quarter to/Quarter Past: Follow the same routine as above, but add in quarter to/quarter past, :15  and :45. Again this concept is harder than o’clock and half past and is typically introduced in grade one and mastered by grade two or three (depending on the child). This time divide the clock in quarters and color each quarter a different color to help with the concept.

Telling Time to the Minute: This is where counting by 5s is and a more detailed clock is essential. You should add 4 lines between each number on your teaching clock at this point to help teach this concept.  Explain to your child that there are 5 minutes between each number on the clock. Review counts by 5.  Once your child understands this concept, you can begin to teach times such as 8:05 or 8:35 by showing him how to count by 5s around the clock.  When this concept is solid, you can show him how to count around the clock by 5s and then add on the number of minutes. For example for 8:23, your child would count from the 12, “5, 10, 15, 20 then 21, 22, 23.” Or for 4:52, “5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 then 51, 52.”

Passage of Time: As children develop you can start talking about the passage of time.  If Bob goes to the zoo at 9:00 and gets home at 11:00, how many hours was Bob at the zoo.  This is a more difficult concept- save it for later, but keep it in the back of your mind for when YOUR child is ready.

Kid’s Clock

I had my son make his own clock as well. Follow the same directions as above, but use a paper plate instead of the cardboard circle.

Boy Mama Teacher Mama  Handmade Clocks.jpg

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23 thoughts on “Teacher Mama: A Homemade Teaching Clock

  1. Pingback: Teacher Mama: Creating a Digital Clock for Teaching Time | Boy Mama Teacher Mama

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  4. Pingback: Teacher Mama: O’Clock Cards- Games for Teaching Time to the Hour | Boy Mama Teacher Mama

  5. I have just pinned this – having taught time to children aged 5 – 8 years old I understand well how completely frustrating and overwhelming it can be to little people. It’s one of the tricker things to learn, I think. Great ideas here.

  6. I tell my students that the Hour hand is the shorter one because the word has less letters the word minute has more letters so it is the longer hand.

  7. Thanks for writing this. We have been teaching our child for a while and she seems to forget or not understand. After reading this ,now I know I missed things in telling her that will help her understand better.

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