For the last couple of months, I have been working on developing my “Telling Time” collection of teaching resources. My need to develop this collection was born out of necessity when some of my tutoring students were showing difficulties with their telling time skills.

As I worked with different students I noticed a few common misconceptions.  I also came across a couple of websites and blogs that unknowingly propagated some of them. I decided that it might be best to write some posts about each of these misconceptions 🙂

The first misconception that I would like to address, is the positioning of the hour hand. Children seem to have a hard time understanding that the hour hand moves at the same time as the minute hand, albeit slower. Since the minute hand moves noticeably faster, the movement of the hour hand seems to go “unnoticed”. Unfortunately, most the time, this misconception is not detected early on, and children keep misrepresenting time as they progress through grade levels.

Correct clock hands’ positioning.  Incorrect clock hands’ positioning.

The key is to model it from the very beginning! As you start talking about the minute hand, it’s important that students see how the hour hand also moves along. They should be able to distinguish both hands just by observing their movement (when watching a tangible analog clock, of course 🙂 ). The minutes go faster and the hours go slower.

Once you delve into exploring the benchmark positions of the minute hand (hour, half hour, quarter, quarter to), it is important to also illustrate the exact position of the hour hand. This is a crucial stage, since it will later help students determine where to position the hour hand when the minutes are not in benchmark positions.

Time to the hour – the minute hand points at 12 and the hour hand points at a number. In this case it is one o’clock, so the hour hand points to 1.  Time to the half hour – the minute hand points at 6 and the hour hand points between two numbers. In this case it is half past one, so the hour hand points between 1 and 2.  Quarter hour – the minute hand points to 3 and the hour hand points at a quarter of the way between two numbers. In this case it is a quarter after 1, so the hour hand points between 1 and 2, but only a quarter of the way between 1 and 2.  Quarter to – the minute hand points at 9 and the hour hand points at three quarters of the way between two numbers. In this case it is a quarter to two, so the hour hand points three quarters of the way between 1 and 2.

Later on, once the students become proficient with positioning the hour hand in benchmark times (hour, half hour, quarter, quarter to), you can help them problem solve how to position the hour hand when the minute hand is pointing to other areas of a clock. This is usually done in higher grades, when students learn to tell time in 5 minute increments and/or to the minute.

### How to lead students to reasoning the position of the hour hand in non-benchmark times?

I usually enter into a dialogue with my students. I want them to deduct the approximate position of the hour hand in relation to the minute hand by leading them through a reasoning process. Consider the following activity in which the students have the minute hand and need to correctly draw the hour hand.

Here’s an example of how I could lead the dialogue (The blue text between brackets is what I want the students to tell me. I’ll have to make sure that the dialogue steers them to those answers):

• Which are our benchmark positions? Where does the hour hand point when in benchmark positions? (Hour – at the number; half hour – half way between numbers; quarter – a quarter of the way between two numbers; quarter to – three quarters of the way between numbers.)
• Let’s consider the image above. How many minutes are there? (The minute hand is pointing at the number 5, so there are 25 minutes.)
• What is the closest benchmark time and what conclusions can we derive from the relative position of the minute hand? (The closest benchmark time is the half hour. 25 minutes are not the same as 30, so the hour hand cannot be placed half way between the numbers 1 and 2. It has to be less than half way. However, since 25 minutes are more than 15 minutes (quarter hour), the hour hand would have to be positioned after a quarter of the way between the two numbers. We would need to position the hour hand more than a quarter of the way between 1 and 2, and less than half way.)
• How would we approximately position the hour hand in the following situations?
 There are 38 minutes. 38 is more than 30, so the hour hand has to be positioned after the half way point between 2 and 3. However, 38 is also less than 45, so the hour hand has to be before the three quarter way point between 2 and 3.
 There are 55 minutes. 55 is more than 45 and less than 60 minutes. The hour hand has to be positioned after the three quarter way between 2 and 3, but cannot point at 3 because is not a complete hour. 55 is very close to 60, so that means that the hour hand has to point a little before the number 3.

This could be a little complicated for some students, but it is vital that they understand how to use their knowledge of benchmark positions to determine the correct position of the hour hand.

Please feel free to grab this FREE sample of my Telling Time Task Cards – Level 1 – The Hour Hand. Click the image below to go to the download page.

I hope you find this post helpful. Please feel free to leave your comments, questions and/or suggestions below in the comments’ section. I would love to hear from you.

Take care,

Catia