These fun telling time games are the perfect way for kids to gather the skills they need to learn to tell time with a traditional clock or watch analog clock, a clock that shows the time with hands on a dial.

Learning to tell time with 10 telling time activities for kids with an analog clock that has hands for seconds, minutes and hours - Kids Activities Blog feature
Let’s choose one of these telling time games to play
to learn how to tell time!

Here at Kids Activities Blog, we always prefer learning through games and hands-on telling time activities!  Playing with time is so much fun.

We have published a lot of popular learning games, but this tell time post has been sharing thousands of times through the years as it was named by Pinterest as one of the Top 20 Pins of 2013 for Education and Classroom Ideas.  We are absolutely giddy and hope you will share it too!

How to tell time on an analog clock face - alarm clock - red alarm clock with little hand, big hand and second hand represented - Kids activities blog
Let’s learn how to tell time!

How To Tell Time On A Clock

First it might be best to talk about how to tell the time of day by looking at a clock face that isn’t digital but an analogue clock.

Look at the red clock and read the time. The hour hand isn’t quite to 12, the minute hand is resting on the 11 and the seconds hand is on the 3 making it 11:55 and 15 seconds.

If any of that doesn’t make sense, keep reading! We are going to explore everything you need to tell time on a clock.

Hour hand shown on a clock without the minutes or seconds hand for clarity.  In this image, the hour hand is pointing to the 2 indicating it is 2 o clock
This clock’s hour hand is pointing at the number 2…so it is 2 o’ clock!

1. Hour Hand on a Clock

The shortest, thickest slowest moving hand on a clock is the little hand or hour hand that points to what hour of the day it is or just passed by pointing to the large numbers 1-12 on the clock face.

  • It takes this small hand an hour to move from big number to big number.
  • When it has made its way all around the clock, 12 hours have passed.
  • When an hour hand is in between numbers, it is BETWEEN those two hours. For instance, if the hour hand was between 2 & 3, it is 2-something. When it passes the 3, it will be 3-something.
Minutes hand shown on a clock with the hour hand but without the  seconds hand for clarity.  In this image, the hour hand is pointing to the 2 and the minutes hand is pointing to the 6 indicating it is 2:30
The minutes hand is pointing to the 6 indicating it is 30 minutes past the hour

2. Minutes Hand on a Clock

The longer, thick moving hand on a clock is the big hand or minute hand that moves every minute of the day around the clock pointing to the hash marks that represent the 60 minutes in an hour.

  • The minute hand moves every minute. Some clock faces have ticks or small lines in between the big numbers which represent one minute.
  • Each time the minute hand passes a large number (1-12), 5 minutes has passed.
  • In the example above, you can see that the minute hand is pointing at the 6. Since it passed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and now 6 (a total of 6 numbers) and 6 x 5 = 30. So it is 2:30.
  • Skip counting by 5s is an important skill for reading a clock.
  • Note: The hour hand has slowly moved 1/2 way between the 2 & 3 since we are half way through the hour!

Related: More skip counting learning fun from Kids Activities Blog

Seconds hand shown on a clock with the hour hand and minute hand for clarity.  In this image, the hour hand is pointing to the 2 and the minutes hand is pointing to the 6 indicating it is 2:30 and the seconds hand is at 12.
The seconds hand is the fastest moving clock hand!

3. Seconds Hand on a Clock

The longer, thinnest fastest moving hand (not every clock has one) is the seconds hand which makes an entire revolution of the clock every minute.

  • The seconds hand goes all the way around the clock every minute!
  • Each of the ticks on the side of the clock between the numbers represents 1 second.
  • Each of the big numbers 1-12 represent 5 seconds has passed.
  • In the example above, the red seconds hand is on the 12 meaning no seconds have passed since the new minute. In this picture, it is exactly 2:30.

Now let’s get some practice telling time on a clock by playing some fun telling time games…

Fun & Easy Telling Time Games for Kids

These Tell Time games are sure to make your day a little more fun for your little ones.  The challenge with learning to tell times is kids have to be familiar with:

  • Numbers 1-12 & 0-60
  • Skip counting by 5’s, 10’s & 15’s
  • Concept of time – seconds, minutes, hours…
  • Ability to identify, calculate and then express

When you think about it, time is complicated!  It is something that we use so often throughout the day that we might not even think about all the moving pieces that come together to allow us to tell time and say it so someone else understands what we are talking about.

Tell time: a collection of activities for kids

Kids Activities Blog is excited to share with you these fun telling time activities to do today to help you child understand the concept of time.

Activities and Games to Teach Telling Time on A Clock

Here are 10 of the ideas we’ve found to help us with our Tuesday math & extra telling time learning…

1. Make a playdough globe to introduce time zones.  

As you find hours on your “clock”, put a stick into your globe about the area that you think it would be that time.   Discuss how time is different in different places.   Thanks to A Little Learning for inspiring this earth activity – they used things they are thankful for on their “sticks”.

2. Count down to a big event using clocks.

Countdown to a big event like New Years Eve using clocks to introduce the countdown.   Hoosier Homemade made a bag of treats that her kids could open up, one on each hour as they counted down to midnight.   This would be a great “telling time” activity for a long road-trip too!

3. Have kids wear a watch.  

The act of wearing a watch has helped give my children a concept of time pretty quickly.   I love the (affiliate links present in this article) “Time Teaching” watches.   These have the hours and the minutes on the face to help your child learn to differentiate between the hours and minutes.  It is funny but most kids don’t get used to wearing a watch these days because all the adults around them have their phone in hand with a digital clock.

4. Make a giant clock with kids as the “hands”.

Make a giant clock outside on your driveway like the kids over at Who Would Have Thought It.   They used their bodies to make the time.   What fun to see the time change…looks like a blast!

Make a flap paper plate clock to show the minutes behind the numbers - Kids Activities Blog
Make a paper plate clock with movable hands so kids can practice reading the time!

Interactive Tell Time Games

5. Play with paper plate clocks.

I first saw a version of the clock pictured above at Mrs. Nielsen’s 2nd grade.   She cut flaps into her paper plate that she could lift the hour and show her kids the minutes.   Brilliant!   We had to make our own paper plate clock (pictured above).   The kids love it.

6. Use printable clock worksheets.

Here is a terrific telling time worksheet that we have used to help our kids diagram time.   Put it in a page protector and use with dry erase markers to ask questions like:

  • What time did you eat breakfast this morning?
  • What time is one hour earlier than breakfast?
  • When is bedtime?
  • What time do you get up in the morning?
  • What time do we leave for school?

7. Practice skip counting.

The part that is the hardest for my kiddos is learning the hour “number” with the minuets – ex: 8 = 40 minuets.   Skip counting has really helped them figure it out!   SchoolHouse Rock has a fun song where they skip count as fast as they can their 5’s.   The kids love counting & singing along.

Sing your skip counting with SchoolHouse Rock

8. Make a clock wall for kids.

We used cardboard boxes to create clocks with the common events of our day on the face.    

Our daily events included:

  • morning snack time
  • time they can get up from naps
  • time that Daddy is home from work
  • bedtime

This helps my toddlers know to match the time.  For example, “You can’t get up from quiet time until 4pm, when the clock looks like this (pointing to the correct time)”.

Have a wall of common times near your clock to help your kids anticipate daily events.
Create a clock wall that shows the times for regularly scheduled events – just like a time zone wall at an office!

9. Work with different types of time notation.  

Help your child realize that time is documented in many formats.   Teach Mama has a great collection of tell time on a clock worksheets and lesson plans to help your child see the big picture.

10. Have a telling time race.

I remember as a child in classes, I loved the wipe-board activities.   This is a board that you can purchase to have time-telling races with each other.

How To Tell Time as Part of Hands-on Math

As part of our home learning schedule, we try to focus on one area of “extra” hands-on math skills each school day.  Here is our schedule to include telling time in addition to our regular math worksheets and math homework:

  • Mondays: Play with more/less statements — these can get really silly & fun!
  • Tuesdays: Hands-on clock practice and talking through telling time to each other.
  • Wednesdays:  Is backwards day!  We count backwards as we drive places, wait in lines, sit at the table and take a bath!
  • Thursdays:  All about money.  We count money and play store games.
  • Fridays:  Fun & play with math – my kids’ favorite play time choice is Lego math or some building activity.

Favorite Practice Clocks for Telling Time

Shown is a wooden teaching clock with removable wooden  numbers 1-12, movable wooden hands - both hour and minute hand and a chalkboard version where you can draw in your own hands
A practice clock can make telling time much easier to learn!

There are a bunch of resources out there for home and in the classroom to help kids learn how to tell time on a clock. Here are several of my favorites.

Telling time faq

What is the easiest way to tell time?

The easiest way to tell time on a traditional analogue clock is to identify the short hand to identify the hour and the long hand to identify the minutes by counting by 5. While that seems complicated, once you learn the basics it will come naturally!

Why is telling time an important skill?

Many kids don’t have much exposure to traditional clocks so it might seem silly to push clock reading skills on the next generation, but the ability to read a clock is not only a basic life skill, but it is an easy way to gain basic math skills.

What age should a child be able to tell the time?

Telling time is a Kindergarten level skill so kids should have mastered it by age 5. Younger kids who are exposed to analogue clocks and the basic teaching of how to tell time can often master it long before age 5.

How do you make time telling fun?

Telling time IS fun! Kids naturally engage with the concept of translating the clock face into a time amount. Using a practice clock, clock worksheets or a real clock can make the adventure not only hands-on but fun for all.

This article contains affiliate links.

More Time, Clock & Schedule Fun from Kids Activities Blog

  • We love this idea for a routine clock, a visual reminder of a kids schedule.  You can easily make this school clock that could be used for all sorts of different kid routines.
  • We talked about counting down to a special event…here is a Christmas countdown clock to keep kids anticipating AND counting!
  • Need help keeping track of a Kindergarten homeschool schedule?  Check out these ideas for things that really work!
  • We have some mom-tested, kid-tested kids schedule ideas that really work in the real world.
  • And if you have a preschooler at home, check out our easy to follow preschool schedule.
  • Don’t miss our cool math games for kids of all ages.
  • Check out this Map game that helps children learn directions!

Related: How to read a thermometer is fun with this printable, craft & learning activity!

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