Making our own teaching clock

Understanding the idea of time, and how we measure it, is pretty fundamental to many areas of science.  My son is interested in clocks, and has a pretty good idea of how to read the hours, but the times in between still flummox him.  I thought making our own teaching clock (i.e. one that you can move the hands on freely) from simple materials would be a good hands-on way to talk a bit more about time and to make something which we could keep re-using and referring back to.

For this, we used:
- 1 paper plate
- 1 split pin (brad)
- Glue
- Collection of adverts and cardboard packaging with printed numbers
- Coloured cardboard/cardstock
- Children's scissors

We started out looking for numbers in the packaging, magazines and newspapers in our paper recycling, cutting out the numbers 1 to 12 from different places.  I say we, but my son decided he'd rather cut shapes in the cardboard whilst he directed me cutting out the numbers... Anyway, he sorted them into numerical order and checked we'd got 1 to 12.

Adding numbers to the clock face

We talked about the number at the top of the clock face (12) and the one at the bottom (6) which he knew, and he referred to our clock on the wall to position 3 and 9.  We discussed where the clock hands point at quarter past, half past and quarter to.  Then he helped me to stick on the numbers in between.  I then cut two hands from the coloured cardboard (he'd made some strips, and I tidied them up and added pointers), and I asked which one he wanted to be the hour hand.  When he chose the colour, I then asked what we needed to do to it to make it different to the minute hand, and he knew it needed to be shorter and duly snipped it.

Finished clock

We then anchored the hands in the centre of the clock face using the split pin, such that they are able to be moved to point (and at his request, stuck some small strips of card on the reverse as pretend batteries!).  I asked him to make various times, some he could do independently, and some I gave him lots of help with working out where the hands needed to be.  Once he started to show signs of boredom, we put the clock on top of our little blackboard.

Moving the hands to make times

My younger son spotted it later that day and after happily exclaiming 'tock' (his word for clock), his brother wanted to make the current time on the teaching clock.  We made half past 3, and he's asked to do the same thing several times since, which has been a nice prompt to talk about the time, and for him to think about it in a hands-on way.  We've also talked through our daily routine of getting up, meals, the little one's nap, and bedtime and my 3 year old has made the times we talked about on the clock.  Whilst he wasn't quite as into the cutting and sticking as I'd hoped given he likes his new sharp scissors, I think overall it achieved my aim of being a talking point about telling the time.