Smartick Try it for free! Abrir el Menú Móvil Try it for free!
Accelerate your child’s learning
Smartick is a fun way to learn math!


Basic Concepts to Help Learn How to Tell the Time

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about time and to learn how to tell the time. It’s one of the first experiences that children have with mathematics in a very natural way, but can be a very complicated concept if they don’t have previous knowledge and skills to help them understand.

Basic skills to learn how to tell the time

Two of the basic skills they need are:

Counting to 60

They’ll need to be able to do this to understand minutes.

 Learn How to Tell the Time

Count in 5’s

 Learn How to Tell the Time: Count in fives

Once they are able to count to 60 and to count in 5’s independently, we can start working with the clock. Ideally, children should make their own clock… it’s very simple: a plastic or cardboard plate, some markers, and cardboard to make the hands.

The clock

At first, it’s best to focus on ensuring the child understands the significance of each hand:

 Learn How to Tell the Time: Hands on the clock

When we start playing with the clock, first of all, we teach the hours, before we start moving the minute hand five minutes at a time: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55. Once they’ve played with the clock for a while, and understand what each hand indicates, we can teach them quarters; a quarter of an hour, half an hour, and three-quarters of an hour.

At the same time, we can show them the time on a digital clock, which helps simplify the exercise since the exact minutes are shown in number form.

 Learn How to Tell the Time: analogical and digital time

Since the numbers on an analog clock only go up to 12 and a day consists of 24 hours, when we read the time in analog we need to add “am” or “pm” to indicate the correct time.

By contrast, the digital clock offers two options. It can show the time in 24-hours or in 12-hours, in which case the screen will show the acronyms: A.M or P.M.

Digital 12 hours

    • A.M.: Before midday (from the Latin ante meridiem)
    • P.M.: After midday (from the Latin post meridiem)

For example:

Mary and Teresa are going to celebrate their birthdays and they are going to send out invitations. The invitations have the same time on them, but the letters A.M and P.M are different. One of them is going to have her party in the morning, and the other one in the evening.


24 digital clock

When the number that appears on the screen is bigger than 12, we subtract 12 from the number and the result gives us the correct time.

For example: Learn How to Tell the Time: Digital clock

And there you have a few basic concepts to help your child to read and understand the time.

I hope this post has been useful to learn how to tell the time!! Sign up for Smartick today and try it for free!

Learn More:

Fun is our brain’s favorite way of learning
Diane Ackerman
Smartick is a fun way to learn math
  • 15 fun minutes a day
  • Adapts to your child’s level
  • Millions of students since 2009
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
Content Creation Team.
A multidisciplinary and multicultural team made up of mathematicians, teachers, professors and other education professionals!
They strive to create the best math content possible.

Add a new public comment to the blog:

The comments that you write here are moderated and can be seen by other users.
For private inquiries please write to [email protected]

Your personal details will not be shown publicly.

I have read and accepted the Privacy and Cookies Policy


  • JulieJul 21 2022, 12:37 PM

    3 quarters of an hour is 45 minutes NOT 60 seconds.

    • SmartickJul 27 2022, 9:47 AM

      You are absolutely right, Julie.
      Thank you very much for catching the error and letting us know. Corrected!

  • MasreshaMar 10 2022, 12:09 PM

    Very interesting, I’m learning a lot..thanks

  • JaipaliMar 03 2022, 9:41 PM

    This makes it very easy to explain to children, very good!

    • SmartickMar 04 2022, 11:43 AM

      Thank you very much Jaipali!