Monday, December 8, 2014

Taming the Terror of Elapsed Time!





Learning about elapsed time can be such a bear! Kids can get really mixed up. Why? Elapsed time is an abstract concept. Many students find it hard to wrap their head around the entire idea. Additing and subtracting time can cause real problems. What exactly do you do when you pass the hour? The answer is lots of practice (isn't it always the answer!) and that practice can be done within the classroom in only minutes (no pun here) per day.

1. Make time important! When you tell students reading time is over in five minutes, make sure it is five minutes. Kids need to have an "internal clock" and that's impossible to construct without experiencing the true passage of time. Also, don't round time up or down when working on the concept of time. If it will be time to go home in 14 minutes, don't say ten minutes. Using a timer helps students gain internal time understanding. There are many on the Internet that are terrific, such as: Online Stopwatch  Use time throughout the day, "We will go outside to recess in 7 minutes". With time, students start to internalize time. By the way, be sure to change up how you say time, such as a quarter till, fifteen minutes till and even 45 minutes after.

2. To build elapsed time knowledge, students must think about elapsed time in their own life. Before going to an activity, give the class an elapsed time problem about what will happen, such as, "We must be at gym class at 10:05. It takes 12 minutes to walk to the gym. At what time do we need to be walking out the door?" Think through the problem with the class. Doing an activity like this every day builds skills needed to do elapsed time problems.

3. Consider using a timeline to teach elapsed time. Why? When students use addition and subtraction to figure out an elapsed time problem, it doesn't always work. All you have to do it cross that 60 minute mark and things get dicy. I found a terrific number line lesson and resources from NCTM at: Elapsed Time Timeline  It includes the timelines, activity sheets and more. The site also walks teachers step by step on how to teach the use of a number line for elapsed time problems.


As always, practice makes perfect! Try these great sites at centers, small groups or anytime your class needs a fun review of this important skill!

LOTS of time games are on this site! Any time-telling skill your students may need can be found here! This game is called bedtime bandits.Students try to stay up as late as possible by blasting killer clocks that drop from the ceiling. After each stage it gets harder. Finally, students must use elapsed time skills!


This elapsed time game plays like the old pac-man game. Student use the up, down and sideways arrows to "eat" the answer to the question at the bottom of the board. It's all about elapsed time!


Oh My Goodness! This is a fun one! Students read the mystery and figure out who committed the  crime by using elapsed time skills! It's from Scholastic!

This is a good site to use when teaching elapsed time strategies. It's for the white board. Teachers can move the clock, then show students how to figure out the answer.



This is a terrific activity for advanced third graders, or fourth grade students. They are given a problem to solve with information they must sift through. It's a real-life feeling type of activity!


This is a fun video to show as you begin your unit on elapsed time. This one is especially good for third graders! It's from PBS



















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