Simple Measurement

Updated on 1 April 2024


Knowing how to tell time on a digital and analog clock is an important elementary skill. Additionally, some minutes on the clock can be expressed in different ways (i.e., quarter after two and two fifteen). Giving children practice with both types of clocks is a good way to teach them simultaneously.

It is important for students to understand the passage of time in minutes and hours, but also in days, months,
and years. Providing the opportunity for students to create timelines of their lives is a great way to help them
visualize the time that has passed since they were born.


  • Students will identify the four quarters of the clock.
  • Students will understand that an analog clock circles twice every 24 hours.
  • Students will make real-world connections to connect time to daily routines.
  • Students will identify units we use to measure time.
  • Students will understand that we use a calendar to measure days, weeks, months, and years.
  • Students will create a visual representation of their lives.
  • Students will involve parents in the learning activity.

Content Areas

math reading writing


Preschool - Grade 2


Build Framework for Learning

Set the stage for the learning experience by sharing the cover of Measuring Time: The Clock with the students. Ask them what they think they will learn after they read the book. Ask them what they see in the cover illustration. Point out that there are several types of clocks on the cover and they will explore them in the book. Read Measuring Time: The Clock aloud to the students. Stop periodically to discuss.

Pages 8-9: The Sundial

Ask students why the sundial might be difficult to accurately measure time. Discuss the impact that cloudy weather and night time would have on our ability to determine the time.

Pages 12-13: The Clock

Ask students if they can share examples of bells they hear at certain times of the day.

Pages 14-15: Minutes and Seconds

Ask students which is longer – a minute or an hour. Ask them if they think they can stand on one foot for an hour or a minute. Then, using an analog clock with a second hand that children can see, tell them to stand on one foot while you time them for one minute. Give them the opportunity to see a minute and experience one minute at the same time.

Pages 20-21: Other Ways to Say the Time

Explain that the clock is divided into four quarters and demonstrate the concept by drawing a circle divided into fourths on the board or chart paper. Show them that the first quarter includes 12:00 – 3:00, the second quarter includes 3:00-6:00, and so on.

Picture Clocks

After discussing the book, reinforce the concept of the four quarters of a clock and 24 hours in a day. Have your students create picture clocks that show their routine in each quarter of time. Give each student two white paper plate. Show them how to divide the clock into fourths. Ask them to label the lines at each edge as 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00. Then discuss what they would be doing during each quarter. For example, from 12:00 AM and 3:00 AM they would be asleep. Ask them to draw a picture depicting the child sleeping. During the 3:00 – 6:00 quarter, they would be sleeping for part of that time, but also preparing to wake up. Ask them to draw a picture that shows him or her waking up. Continue with the other two quarters.

Then, ask them where they are in the day. They should have an understanding that they have only drawn pictures of one half of their day. Continue the activity by having the children create a picture clock of their day from noon to midnight.

Extend the learning experience one step further by asking students to label the back of each picture clock with AM or PM. Discuss the difference between 12:00 AM and 12:00 PM. Reinforce this concept by giving them various events in the day such as dinner, morning cartoons, or bedtime stories. Ask them to hold up the correct picture clock for each event.


Read Measuring Time: The Calendar to the students. Stop periodically throughout the book to probe students for understanding of each concept presented in the book. Inspire discussion about the units in which we measure length, time, volume, temperature, etc. Begin the lesson by showing the children a yardstick. Explain that the yardstick divides one yard into inches and feet.

Provide each child with a strip of cash register tape approximately 4 feet long. Ask them how they would measure the length of their paper strip. Then, instruct them to write “0” on one end and their current age on the opposite end of the paper strip. Explain that they will identify significant events in their lives on the events, but first they must identify the years. Ask the students to fold the paper strip in half. Then, tell them to mark half of their age on that fold mark. For example, if the student is 6, then the halfway mark would be 3. Next, ask the students to estimate where they would mark their age for each year of their lives on the timeline.

Revisit the introductory discussion about the yardstick and explain to the children that it looks like we have created a measuring stick, but we don’t measure time with a rule or yardstick. However, a timeline is one way to represent events in time.

More advanced students may be able to identify each year with the year rather than their age. Parents may also work with their child to take it one step further and convert the child’s age from years to months and years. Reproduce the Time Line Parent Letter for each child to take home. The letter explains the at-home activity that parents can enjoy with their children to reinforce the time line activity. When the projects are completed, students are to bring their timelines back to school where your can display the visual representations of their lives.

Important Calendar Events

Make the concept of a calendar relevant to children and reinforce the fact that we use calendars not only to measure days, weeks, months, and years, but also important events in our lives. Discuss the reasons why we might add an event to the calendar such as to mark an event you’re looking forward to, an appointment that you don’t want to forget, a special day such as a birthday, anniversary, or wedding. Give each student a sticky note and ask students to look at their parents’ calendars. Have them write one special calendar event on the sticky note. When the students return with the sticky notes, let each share information about the special event.

Higher Order Questioning

Teachers who ask “higher-order” questions promote learning because these types of questions require students to apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information instead of simply recalling facts. It is important to ask a variety of questions in your discussions with children to meet the needs of your diverse student population. Incorporating a variety of types of questions in your discussions is a great way to differentiated instruction and encourage higher level thinking. While there are many different kinds of questions (i.e., analytical, interpretive, evaluative, etc.), we have provided sample questions for the Simple Measurement series in three categories. Educators who include both factual questions as well as open-ended questions will help children develop divergent thinking skills. Remember vary your questions as you discuss the books in this series. Here are some examples to help you:

Closed Questions

Do we use a ruler to measure days?
How many ounces are in a pound?
What would you use to measure temperature?
True of false: If something contracts, it gets smaller.
What kind of clothing would you wear if the temperature was 35°?

Open-Ended Questions

When might you need to use a balance?
How did people cook food before the thermometer was invented?
What do you think people did when they wanted to share a recipe before units of measurement were established?
Why do you think we measure medicine in milliliters and sodas in liters?

Show Me Cards

Reinforce key vocabulary in the Simple Measurement series with “Show Me Cards.” Provide each student with one sheet of “Show Me” cards. Have the students cut the cards on the sheet out so that each child has a total of 8 cards of vocabulary words.

Give the students a definition and ask them to “show me” the card that matches. For example, you might say, “Show me the word that means to make an educated guess to find out the value or distance of something.” The students who have the “estimate” card would hold it in the air to show you.

This is a great activity to use to differentiate instruction for individual students. Card A has very basic words while Card B has more difficult words and Card C includes much more challenging words. More advanced students will be more likely to recognize the more challenging words, while the other students will still benefit from hearing and seeing the words. The students will not know the difference, but this is an effective way to cover all of the vocabulary and still meet each student’s ability level.

Related Products

Title   ATOS Format Qty
Measuring Length 3.4
Measuring Temperature 3.8
Measuring Time: The Calendar 3.2
Measuring Time: The Clock 3.6
Measuring Volume 3.8
Measuring Weight 3.7

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