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. You could ask your pupils how they think they might be able to tell the time today, without using clocks. Exploring these ideas first and listening to their answers will provide you with evidence of their current understanding. This will help you to judge how much they have learned 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 wanted to begin by helping 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 Mrs Tokunbo told her pupils.)

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 and write down all their ideas on the board. You may need to suggest some 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 groups of four or five and ask them how 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