1. Using group work to discuss ‘time’

A good introduction to telling the time is to first discuss the many ways people used to tell the time before the invention of clocks, or how your pupils think they might be able to tell the time today, without using clocks. Exploring these ideas first and researching their answers will provide you with evidence of their current understanding and give you something to judge against how much they have learnt after undertaking some activities about time.

Case Study 1: Exploring ways we used to tell the time

Mrs Tokunbo, is a teacher in a primary school in Nigeria. She planned to teach ‘time telling’ to her pupils. She began by wanting them all to understand the need for a standard way of telling time. First she asked them to tell her what they thought about how to tell the time and listed these ideas on the board. She discussed other ways of telling the time long ago, including marked candles, sundials and sandglasses. For each of these methods of time telling, she asked pupils to think of what it would be like to depend upon such a method, and what problems it might cause. (See Resource 1: Ways of measuring time long ago for examples of what the Mrs Tokunbo told her pupils about).

Activity 1: Discussing time telling in groups

Begin your lesson by asking your pupils to think of ways people tell the time without a clock, write down all the ideas pupils have on the board – you may need to tell them about some other examples, such as the rising and setting of the sun, the opening and closing of flowers like Etinkanika, or examples in Resource 1 Resource 2: Water clocks and Resource 3: Sundials).

Put them into mixed ability groups of 4 or 5 and ask them how do they know what time of day it is. Then ask them to discuss how reliable they think each of these methods are. Ask the groups to report back and have a class discussion, writing up relevant comments, of reliable ways to tell the time.

Section 2: Measuring and handling time

2. Cross-curricula practical work