Elapsed time is one of those concepts that can make sense quite quickly for students and for others it becomes a dreaded task that they find impossible to understand even with a multitude of practice.
Several teachers approach this concept with a variety of strategies, I know many primary educators are having students create their own clocks such as the examples provided below from homemade materials. When students create their own clocks they become actively engaged in the time telling process.
Once the clocks are constructed the teacher simply models how the clock hands move from one starting time to the other and the students count the minutes in increments of five as the teacher assesses skill readiness through observation. For the upper primary grades, many teachers also use the t-chart method to create better understanding of elapsed time such as this one found at this teacher's blog (Cindy) Elapsed Time T-Chart
1. I love to copy downloadable bus and train schedules that can be found online such as these:
Red Line Bus Schedule
Austin Bus Schedule
Cy Ride College Bus Schedule
Most cities have a bus schedule that can be downloaded. I print a copy of one schedule for each of the students and then have them create five word problems of their own that involve elapsed time from the information provided in the schedule. These schedules are also an awesome teaching tool to use for whole class instruction.
2. I also use this as an enrichment time to study time zones. "Browse the World MrDowling.com" has a wonderful lesson online Time Zones with Mr. Dowling
After studying about time zones, I have the students answer this "higher level" question in a short paragraph:
How do time zones effect elapsed time?
After this, I have students write down five things they do on schedule on a regular school day from morning to night such as walking home from school, waking up, walking to school and etc. Then they are asked to research what time it is for five other children in different time zones (countries) at the time that they complete those very same activities.