Thursday, January 10, 2013

Telling Time

Yesterday was the big day!  The boys can now tell time on an analog clock!  Can I hear a big "woohoo" for the Montessori method?  It took a half-an-hour or less for me to take them through the presentations/materials I wanted to.  That's it.  There will not be months of worksheets with little clock faces on them.  We didn't even do any matching cards.  All it took were some logical hands-on materials and some fun!

We started by using our Orbiter to review the idea that the Earth rotates on its axis as it revolves around the sun and that one rotations takes 24 hours. 

Next, we translated those 24 hours onto an analog clock.  Rather than spend $100 on the clock below...

...I made my own version.  I printed a simple clock face image from the internet.  I made all of the little number circles in a word processing program (if I find where I saved it I will share it).

I picked up a package of little velcro circles at the hardware store.  The bumpy ones are on the clock face and the fuzzy ones are on the circles.

First, we put on all of the red circles (1-12).  Me Too loved being in charge of this part.

Next, we put on the blue circles (13-24. As you can see in the photo this part got a little crooked.  Again, a five yo was in charge.)  This made it really clear that the hour hand needs to traverse the clock twice each day to cover all 24 hours.  We discussed the differences between 12-hour and 24 -hour clocks.  We also verbally compared what we might be doing at seven in the morning versus seven in the evening, etc.,

I read through the clock presentations in all of my albums before I began so they all influenced the work in their own way.  The presentation I chose to have open while I worked with the boys was from Cultivating Dharma.

This is the clock pictured in the Cultivating Dharma album.  I have always been intrigued by this clock with the bead bars but have never seen it for sale anywhere.  We used our bead bars to do something similar.

Kal-El did it again on his own later and used the five chain instead.  The bars work better.

After we reviewed skip-counting by fives Me Too put on the extra set of discs I made.

Our classroom clock was perfect for this work.  I originally bought it for Kal-El's seaside-themed nursery.  I love it now because shows the 24 hour clock on the inside of the numbers 1-12 and has the minutes numbered outside the numbers 1-12.  It also has a second hand which was helpful yesterday.

Eventually they were ready for the small Judy Clock I bought for them.  The large size you usually see is intended for a classroom where you are showing 30 kids all at once.  The smaller size is more economical, well-sized for little hands like Me Too's, and plenty big for me to show my two kids.  The minute hand has a little handle on it.  When you move it the hour hand moves automatically in coordination.  

We also have an analog clock in our house that has Roman numerals.  I gave Kal-El a brief talk about the roman numerals on that clock and he can now read that clock as well.  Both boys are now able to show me any time I ask for on the Judy clock and can read the time on the other clocks in the house (with the exception of Me Too and the roman numerals).  

They were doing so well that I went ahead and introduced "half-past" "quarter-to" and "quarter-after." I'm sure I am not the first person to think of this, but it made sense to me to use the fraction circles since the boys were so familiar with them.  

I have some other clock materials I haven't shown them yet, including the traditional clock stamp.  I will show them those things to help maintain interest and continue practice.  However, the real practice will be telling time on an analog clock in real life.  I'm sure it helped that they could already tell time on a digital clock (I didn't "teach" them this, they picked it up) but I was still amazed at how fun, quick, and painless this was!  

We have been doing a lot of activities regarding the passage of time as we have worked our way through Karen Tyler's history album.  Another beautiful activity NOT in her album that we can do now that we've learned about the clock can be found at the Moveable Alphabet. It takes two days, but in the end you use marked increments on a burning candle to tell the time.

A couple other fun telling time posts can be found at Making Montessori Ours and Montessori Trails. You might find it interesting that that I encountered the same mystery that Montessori Trails brings primary albums say that this is "elementary work" and some of my elementary albums say that this is "primary work."  This was true in both my AMS and AMI albums.

Edited to Add:  The boys have been fighting over this clock for the past 48 hours.  One of them is ALWAYS holding it.  They keep looking at the digital clock in our family room, making the Judy clock show that time and then run to me to show me the time.  Me Too holds it in his arms while he is relaxing like it's a teddy bear.  

Montessori Monday


  1. Congratulations, Andrea! You obviously did a wonderful job with these presentations. Thanks for sharing them with us!

  2. Wow! Super great work! I have been trying to keep offering some little ideas about telling time, but it still hasnt stuck. We are working our way through the elementary albums for geography and have been doing alot of the world work. I hope that this will help with the understanding! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Next time you have going to pull out a bag of tricks please call us!

    Great work! If anybody should ever ask me if they should homeschool I will direct them to this blog. Just Amesome!!

    Thank you for sharing.

    I am not have a child ready for this work in my life right now, but I am going to do the clock work with the chains myself!!!!

  4. Sorry about all the mistakes.

    I should always edit my writing!!

    PLEASE CALL US! Whenever you are going to pull out your bag of tricks. WE WILL COME ASAP!!


    Since I don't have any children ready to do this work in my life right now. I am going to do the clock work with the chains myself:)

  5. Another wonderful work! You're such an inspiration :) My son would definitely love this activity!

  6. I love the teddy bear imagery ;)

    Where did you get that clock??? (the sea one)

    Yes, I am working on editing those time-telling elements in both my primary and elementary albums. I'm not excited about the elementary presentations and I had to make it up for primary... anyone with feedback that you'd like to input, I am *happy* to hear it.

  7. The clock referenced in Cultivating Dharma's album is from Hello Wood. Lovely - but you have done a fantastic job yourself!

  8. At Home with Montessori,

    THANK YOU! I don't know why I never found that. I guess I always forget about Hello Wood. I didn't know that the red circle in the middle is one of a set of fraction circles! See, I KNEW I wasn't the first person to think of that.

    Thank you for telling me about that.

  9. This is really awesome! Any chance you saved your clock file and want to share with us?? Pretty please :).

  10. Okay, I just read the part where you already said you would. Sorry to beg, lol! You just really did such a lovely job!

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  12. Hello, did you ever get a chance to find and share your clock file?

  13. I wanted to home school my kids until I started looking at all the blogs and it really sunk in how much is involved. It's too overwhelming. Also I wonder if these moms have some help or the support of family? When you don't have anyone to help you with your kids you barely have time to take care of the basics, let alone research methods, acquire materials and develop lesson plans. No wonder people invented schools and women wanted careers instead! This is much harder than when I was single working full time and a lot less fun too.