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Teaching Kids How to Tell Time: Velcro Clock Teaching Materials

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

Velcro materials are useful in teaching time telling.

Velcro materials are useful in teaching time telling.

Teaching Time-Telling With Velcro Clocks

Velcro clock materials can be a great addition to special education or general education telling-time math materials. This is one of those sets of teaching materials that I developed over a couple years as my special education students progressed with their time-telling skills. You can create the entire set over time as well or simply pick and choose as you need to with your particular students. I don't recommend creating all of these materials at once, as it is extremely time consuming and is unnecessary for nearly all teachers.

The General Education Math Curriculum Teaches Time as Follows:

Grade LevelSkill Level


To the hour

1st grade

Half hour mark

2nd grade

Five minute mark

3rd grade

Minute mark

4th grade

Continued minute mark review during elapsed time / problem solving units

For my students who were been below grade level with their time-telling skills, I still followed this teaching sequence at the timetable that was appropriate for them. For my students who stayed at grade level, I typically introduced the concept before they were introduced to it in the general education setting so that they had extra practice. The general education time units move quickly and it can be difficult for the students to keep up without this extra initial work.

One of the greatest difficulties that I've had with special education teaching materials is providing/creating varied materials for the same topics when students need lots of practice with them. Many of my students on the autism spectrum enjoy Velcro materials so I frequently created Velcro materials as one material option.

The following examples are Velcro clock materials that I created for the entire time-telling teaching sequence. I have now used these materials with students all the way from kindergarten through fourth grade. I printed a lot of the clocks for these materials from online templates.

For the majority of the time materials that I created, I made both analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog matching. I used the back and front of each cut manila folder with 6 clocks on each side so all 12 times are covered.

I created these materials for elementary school students, but they are appropriate for any students, children or adults, who need to work on their time-telling skills.

Some of my time-telling materials.

Some of my time-telling materials.

Telling Time To the Hour

I have never worked with students who had a lot of difficulty with to the hour times. For students who are in kindergarten, you can simply review it periodically. For older students, you can move on as soon as they've mastered it.

Clocks to the half hour.

Clocks to the half hour.

Telling Time to the Half-hour Mark:

Making the jump to the half-hour mark can be tricky at first as students learn how to determine what the hour is now that the hour hand is not right on the number.

15 minute marks.

15 minute marks.

25 minute marks.

25 minute marks.

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A different, bigger clock.

A different, bigger clock.

To the Quarter Hour/to the Five-Minute Mark

Transitioning from the half-hour to the minute mark in 2nd grade is the hardest step in telling time. I typically have my students spend time with the quarter hours (15 minutes, 45 minutes) before moving to the additional five-minute marks.

When students have mastered the quarter hours, I move on to the additional five-minute marks. I broke all of these five-minute marks down for a few of my students. It is not necessary to do that with all students. If you don't think that your students need this, you can move right to five minutes mixed.

I also made a Velcro clock with spaces for the five-minute times around the outer edge, which you can see above. I made a worksheet version of this as well where students could write the numbers in the circles.

Other 5 minute intervals.

Other 5 minute intervals.

To the Five Minute Mark Mixed

Once students have mastered the five-minute marks on the clock, they're ready to mix them up and work on the entire set. I've never created too many of these five-minute mixed sets because most of my students haven't needed much further work on the concept at this point.

Mixed minute marks.

Mixed minute marks.

To the Minute Mark Mixed

Once students have mastered the five-minute mark, the transition to the minute mark is surprisingly easy. Most of my students had mastered "counting on" by the time they had mastered the five-minute mark and had no problem combining these skills to master the minute mark. These final clock materials provide an easy fun review for proficient time-tellers to practice their skills throughout the school year.

Time bingo cards.

Time bingo cards.

Time concentration / matching cards.

Time concentration / matching cards.

Time story problems.

Time story problems.

Additional clock materials

  • Bingo and Concentration: I am always surprised at how popular these two games are. I have made bingo and concentration games for vocabulary, too, which have always been a big hit. I have had students get frustrated when the games are hard, but I've never had them get bored. I have pictures of five-minute mixed bingo and half an hour concentration (matching the digital and analog times) here, but you can make either game for many times.
  • Stories: One of my former students had a slight obsession with bowling. I created a lot of Velcro bowling teaching materials for him. That's why all of these time (to the minute mark, but you can make them for any times) stories are about bowling. Thankfully I haven't had any students with an aversion to bowling so I've been able to use these stories with other students, too. These stories don't involve elapsed time or any other problem-solving strategies. They're simply another tool to use with students who are learning to tell time to the minute. I created stores for matching analog to digital and vice versa.

© 2011 Rose Clearfield


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 11, 2013:

I certainly didn't learn with Velcro either, but I agree that it would have been helpful!

aykianink on January 11, 2013:

Now I'm asking did *I* learn how to read rotary? I don't believe it involved velcro, though now I think it should have:-)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 09, 2013:

Velcro was one of my staples as a special education teacher. I also bought it in bulk. Thanks!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on January 09, 2013:

I can't live without velcro as a teacher. Must have me some velcro. I buy it by the ribbon, haha. I sure do use it a lot. What a great resource for teachers!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 09, 2013:

Thanks, craftdrawer! You're absolutely right about the importance of kids learning to tell time before they get phones.

craftdrawer on January 09, 2013:

What a terrific tool! I was told by some high school teachers that because of cell phones some kids still are unable to tell time - this is a great way to make sure they learn before they get a phone in their life!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 09, 2013:

That's awesome, Marissa. :) I love that these tools are reusable, too. When I was teaching, I got so much use out of them with different students.

PegCole, the paper and thumb tack clocks work, too. A lot of kids don't make that transition from digital time, and as a result, a lot of younger adults don't either now. I think that analog time and its corresponding language is a really important concept to teach.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on January 09, 2013:

Hello ThePracticalMommy, Wow. This is quite inventive! Back in the olden days. . . (groan) we didn't have velcro. All we had was a paper plate with the numbers written on it and a thumb tack for the paper hands that spun around. LOL It worked! But I was wondering how the kids would make the transition to digital time. We never said, "It is 7:36 am. We said, just past the half hour of seven. So many ways to tell time. Good one.

Marissa from United States on January 09, 2013:

What a great idea! My 4 y.o. son is just starting to grasp the concept of time, so I'll have to try this with him. I like that it's a reusable tool; it'll be handy when my daughter needs to learn as well.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 15, 2011:

Thanks! I'm sorry that this has always been a tough concept for you and that you didn't have better tools to master it when you were younger. Even though many people don't use analog clocks (myself included) in their day to day routines anymore, they make learning the concept of elapsed time so much easier. So it's still important to teach them, but it gets more difficult as they're used less frequently. These materials have helped my students. Hopefully other teachers (and parents) will be able to use some of these ideas as well.

Dr. Amilia on April 15, 2011:

This is a very good hub. Myself I had a lot of trouble learning to tell the time. I would always get confused between quarter to and quarter past. My parents approach towards teaching me was one that I hope no one tries with children. I had developed an intense fear about clocks and time, along with my parents but I guess in time some wounds heal.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 14, 2011:

Thank you!!

kafsoa on April 14, 2011:

Good hub!!!!!

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