This sounds crazy but stay with me for a minute ; )

It works like this:

*Explain or review that the short hand points to the hour.

*Point out all of the little tick marks around the clock.  Count them all together to establish that there are sixty.  Explain that the long hand shows how many of those little tick mark minutes have gone by in the hour.

*Practice reading a few clocks together by finding the hour and then counting the tick marks one-by-one to determine the minutes.

*After reading a few clocks in this way say, “Phew, this is taking forever to read the minutes.  I wonder if there might be a short cut.”  Some students may already know the trick of counting minutes by five and one of them can share with the group.  If no one thinks of skip counting by fives, give them a hint: count, “one, two, three, four, FIVE” (pointing to the big number 1), “six, seven, eight, nine, TEN” (pointing to the big number 2) etc.

*Now read a few clocks with the class using the count by fives technique.

*In a future lesson or review, start counting the minutes one-by-one and then say, “Oh wait, we have a more efficient way to do this.  Who remembers how?”

Later, if a student doesn’t remember the counting by fives method, they can still always count around one minute at a time.  Chances are, when they’re a few minutes in, they’ll remember the trick and use it.

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Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun is a former teacher with 8 years of experience in the classroom and a master's degree in early childhood education. She designs engaging, organized classroom resources for 1st-3rd grade teachers.