By Gina Kennedy

By Gina Kennedy


Elapsed Time Challenge!

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 

For students in the upper elementary, there are several strategies that I use to provide enrichment and fun to this concept.  It is extra important in the upper elementary grades to have "elapsed time" enrichment ideas ready and available as many kids grasp these ideas immediately.

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" 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.

3. I have also created a resource called "Elapsed Time" Math Research Enrichment Project This is an excellent enrichment lesson on elapsed time. For years I have been using this website as a teaching tool for elapsed time and my students have loved it. In this project they choose travel destinations, are guided through the site and they determine the amount of elapsed time in their journey. The students love this project and the parents are so impressed that once they leave 4th and 5th grade they are able to get online and book their flights!
This resource can be purchased in my store HERE !

4.  NASA provides a fantastic and  "FREE" Elapsed Time Unit that will challenge all learners that can be downloaded HERE!

I hope by using some of these tools you can provide the perfect amount of enrichment and rigor needed to interest a wide variety of learners in your classroom when teaching elapsed time!