Tick Tock, Craft the Clock: Build Your Own Time-Teaching Toy!

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Telling time can be frustrating for some kids because it can feel so abstract to them. How do you help them? Build a fun learning clock!

This experiment involves building a customizable teaching clock to help young children learn how to tell time. It’s a lesson in telling time, skip counting, and exercising creativity (by decorating your clock!).

Let’s teach our kids how to tell time!

How to make the Tick Tock, Craft the Clock experiment

Supplies you will need

For this experiment, you’ll need:

Here is a book about telling timeOpens in a new tab. to accompany this experiment!

Supplies needed for the Tick Tock, Craft the Clock teaching clock experiment

Before you start

Watch little hands around the hot glue gun and scissors!

Instructions

Here is how to do this experiment with your child:

Step 1: Cut circles for the body of the clock

First, cut two circles with your cardboard pieces. One should be about 2″ smaller in diameter. I used two mixing bowls of different sizes to make my cardboard circles.

Next, use the cardboard circles to trace circles onto your construction paper and cut the circles out.

Using two cardboard circles to trace circles onto the construction paper
Circles cut out on the construction paper

Step 2: Glue pieces together

Simply glue the large circle onto the cardboard backing and the smaller circle in the middle of the large circle.

Gluing the construction paper on its respective cardboard circle

Step 3: Cut out the hour and minute hands

The length that you cut these hour and minute hands will depend on how large you made your circles in step 1.

I decided to draw straight lines that were a little longer than the lengths that I wanted them with an arrowhead on one side. We’re going to cut them to the correct length in the next step.

Make the minute hand at least 1″ longer than the hour hand. You want to be able to see the number they are pointing to on the clock!

Use the cardboard cut-outs to trace the arrows onto the construction paper, cut them out, and glue them together.

For a finishing touch, I used my marker to outline the arrows.

Straight lines drawn on the cardboard, measuring to see where to cut
Two cardboard arrows cut out
Using the cardboard arrows to trace arrows onto the construction paper
Gluing the construction paper onto the cardboard arrows
Tracing the arrowhead with a marker to make it stand out

Step 4: Attach hour and minute hands to the clock

You can use measuring tape or simply eyeball it to find the midpoint of the clock. Mark the midpoint with a pen or pencil and puncture a small hole in the cardboard circle.

Next, use that hole as a guide for where to create the hole in each of your arrows. You can also cut off any excess from your arrows in this step.

Using a pen or pencil, puncture a small hole in each arrow.

Using your brad, attach the hands of the clock, with the minute hand closest to the body of the clock and the hour hand on top.

Finding the midpoint on the circle
Using the midpoint on the circle to figure out where to cut the arrow to make it the appropriate size
Puncturing a small hole in the arrow
Driving a brad through both arrows
Brad through arrows and the smaller circle

Step 5: Write numbers of the clock on the smaller circle

Add the numbers of the clock around the smaller circle (or you can wait to write all of the numbers in a couple of steps).

Numbers around the clock added

Step 6: Hot glue the smaller cardboard circle to the larger cardboard circle

Once the arrows are on the smaller circle and you have bent the brad legs to make it flat, it’s time to add the final circle to our clock!

Hot glue the back of the smaller cardboard circle and place it in the middle of the larger cardboard circle.

Adding hot glue to the back of the smaller circle
Smaller circle glued to the larger circle

Step 7: Write the numbers around the clock

Now, onto writing the numbers on the outer portion of the clock!

We made the clock this way so that we could display the minutes and the hours separately to introduce the clock and help kids learn how to tell time.

For our clock, we will write the minutes on the outer, larger circle (only by 5’s) and the hours along the inner circle.

Numbers drawn around the larger circle to help tell the minutes

Step 8: Start telling time!

If your child is new to telling time, I would first stick to the time on the hour (2:00, 7:00, etc.), then the half-hour (2:30, 7:30). It’s important not to overwhelm them when they’re first starting.

It’s time to tell time!

The STEM behind the Tick Tock, Craft the Clock experiment

This experiment teaches:

  • How to tell time
  • Skip counting
  • Creativity

How it works

Building a somewhat simple, but colorful learning clock like in this experiment gives kids an opportunity to have a small clock that they can manipulate and learn more about the minutes and hours on a clock.

It helps them to differentiate hours from minutes on a clock and how each is designed on a clock face to read the time.

How to tell time

This experiment is a great way to introduce the clock and how to tell time to a young child.

They learn the parts of a clock, how to differentiate between the hour and minute hands, and how to learn which number to read when telling the time.

If your child is just starting out with a clock and telling time, it’s best to start with times on the hour (2:00, 7:00). Once they feel confident with that, move onto half-hour, then quarters.

Telling time can feel overwhelming for some kids, but starting with times on the hour and moving in segments can help with that feeling.

Skip counting

To write the minutes on the clock, you have to skip count by 5’s. It’s a hidden lesson skip counting!

If your child is not familiar with skip counting or just needs practice, it’s a good idea to talk about skip counting with them first before writing the minutes along the clock.

My child is newly 5 and we had not yet covered skip counting, so we took this opportunity to cover some of the basics of skip counting. We started with 2’s and 10’s, then worked our way to 5’s. You can do this by using your hands (one hand is 5, two hands are 10, then start again), some beads, or even sets of Unifix cubes.

Then, once they are confident in skip counting, you can have them help you with drawing the minutes along the clock!

Creativity

Except for writing the minutes and hours along the edge of the clock, this learning clock is completely customizable.

Have your child pick out the colors of construction paper you use, which color goes where on the face of the clock, and even have them draw on the clock itself! Just be sure that the numbers are visible.

More experiments about time to try out with your child

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