7 Elapsed Time Activities Ideas For Classroom

With a plethora of subjects and concepts, basic abilities like counting the number of minutes taken to complete a task often get missed out. Known as Elapsed Time; Understanding this concept benefits an individual lifelong since it forms the crucial attribute required for better executive functioning.

However, teaching through mere textbooks might not be enough; hence, the students can be involved in activities that have the power to engage a student, and make them aware of crucial topics like elapsed time in a fun creative way.

Through this post, we will focus on the importance of learning about elapsed time and activities that can help educators in teaching this concept in a logical yet interesting environment.

Learning about elapsed time: A necessity?

Elapsed is basically considered as the time difference between the beginning of a task and its ending time. Being able to understand and find elapsed time is an important skill with everyday use.

For example, if a student is asked to complete his work in 15 minutes, he begins his work at 10 AM and ends up completing it at 10:28 AM. Here, the time difference between the beginning and end of the task is 28 minutes which is also the elapsed time for the task. 

  • This allows us to understand that the knowledge of elapsed time is not just the mere understanding of a concept delegated to a subject but allows us to figure out innumerable aspects related to the elapsed time associated with the task.
  • While being a mathematically challenging concept for most students, it is imperative that students, irrespective of their special needs should have the ability to coordinate radical units such as hours in minutes.
  • It helps in identifying the time taken or required to complete a task.
  • It determines the amount of effort required for a task.
  • Understanding elapsed time is extremely important for time management.
  • With the knowledge of elapsed time about one’s own tasks, it helps in avoiding unnecessary overwhelm associated with a hectic day.
  • It is easier to plan a day when we are aware of the time taken for each task and accordingly delegate our minutes in hours for the important ones and accommodate the left-out time for the simpler and non-complacent tasks.

Activities based on learning of elapsed time 

1. Shake The Time

Shake the time

This is indeed a fun activity that would require an empty egg carton with clocks made on paper at the bottom of the tray, and a coin or a small object. The students will be required to bring in graph papers and mark them from 1 to 12 in increasing order and choose a color of their choice.

  • To start the activity, give the students these egg cartons which have the clocks made out of paper stuck to the bottom. 
  • With placing the coin anywhere in the carton, ask the students to now shake the carton invisibly.
  • Next up, the carton will be opened, and the students will try and find the object and the clock at the back that it has landed on.
  • The time denoted in that paper watch shall be marked on the graph paper. This will give the time stamp as in the place and the associated paper clock at the back where the coin was initially before shaking gives the start time and where the coin landed gives the ending time of the task.
  • This will go on until the graph is completed. 
  • At the end of the task, they will have graph papers with colored areas denoting the time stems of the clocks where the object landed.
  • The teacher can now use these graphs and ask the students about the elapsed time between two shakes, three shakes, one shake, and all the shakes that happened before the graph got completed.

Apart from being a fun activity, the students learn about elapsed time and graph the same time on the sheet. 

2. Tick Tock, Mind The Clock

This is a rather fun activity that will encourage collaborative play and extended interest in the concept through team play. For this activity, the class will be divided into two groups and a volunteer will be chosen from each team. These volunteers will be asked to carefully observe the times for the tasks involved in the activity.

The basic purpose of this activity will be the duration taken by each team to complete each task.

  • To begin the activity, the teacher will delegate five tasks to each team, and the volunteer of the opposite team will be responsible for observing the time at which they started the task and the time actually at which they ended the task. 
  • They will be required to denote the same on the board with the title of the activity.
  • After the completion of all the tasks for both teams, the volunteers will be sent back to their teams, and the teams will determine the duration they took for each task through the timestamps written on the wall.

The activity shall come to an end by announcing the winner that took the least time to complete all the tasks. Through this gameplay, the students will automatically engage in determining the elapsed time for the tasks they complete, hence making the learning of the concept fun.

3. I SPY 

I spy

This is a rather simple activity but engaging as students will learn to apply the concept practically. This will require a carton box, numerous paper clocks with the time stamps on them, and a set of questions for which those times will become answers.

  • The teacher will create placards with questions like what will be the time in 30 minutes from now, given the time is 11 AM at present.
  • The student will then be required to calculate the time after 30 minutes from 11 AM and on the basis of their answer, they will have to find the paper clock with the timestamp that matches their answer.
  • After every three questions, the intensity of the challenge shall increase.

This activity will help the students in recording and calculate the time better.

4. Race To The Rush Hour

Race to rush hour

This is another engaging task that will require a clock with mobile hands and dice for each student.

  • The teacher will denote minutes to each number on the dice, like 1 can denote 7 minutes, 5 denotes 12 minutes, and so on.
  • Now the clock will start at 12, and the task will end when the clock completes a full circle to reach 12 again.
  • But the task is that the students can move the arms of the clock only limited to the minutes that are denoted by the digit they receive on rolling the dice. 

This activity would help the students to understand the time after each interval from the timestamp where the hands were before. Ultimately easing the concept of elapsed time. 

5. The Country Race 

The country Race

This is another fun game but requires more effort from the teacher’s end. This will require the teacher to create question cards that are related to finding elapsed time between countries. 

This could involve giving the takeoff time of a flight from one country to another and giving the landing time for the same, where the student will be required to determine the elapsed time. It can be made fun by creating fake paper passports for the countries included in the questions and the students will be required to collect stamps of the country associated with the question which will only be given to them upon delivery of the correct answer.

So, if the question involves a flight from India to England, the student will be required to pick up the paper passport of India, answer the question, and go on to collect the stamp of England on their passport. The more stamps a student has, the higher will be their score which will determine the winner.

6. The Book Of Reflections

The book of reflections

This is a home-based activity That will require the student to collect their timelines for their daily tasks and reflect on the same after getting back home. 

  • The students will create a timeline and the beginning of the timeline will denote the time at which they get home and the end of the timeline shall denote the time at which they reach school the next day.
  • This timeline will hold the timestamps for each task between the time from getting home to getting back to school. For example, a student reaches home at 3:50 PM and eats lunch until 4:20 PM. The timeline will denote a colorful jump from 3:50 PM to 4:20 PM and the student will reflect on the minutes taken for the task and write it over the bubble between the two timestamps.
  • They will then reflect on the elapsed time for each task if they could have done it more quickly or the reason that they require that much time to complete the task.

After a month of this collection and reflection, the students will have a book of reflection that they can share with each other and discuss their similarities and differences in timelines and lifestyles to better know about each other.

7. Detective

This is a rather engaging and interesting activity for the students to understand the concept of elapsed time. Here the teacher will be required to create a mystery theft scenario, with the culprit to be found according to the timeline of the things that happened. 

The mystery could involve the time at which the theft was reported, the people that were present at that time, what they were doing before that and for how long, people who were his enemies and were around, and the time that would take them to reach him.

Such clues will require the students to determine the elapsed time between each of these activities to find out the criminal. This will help them don the hat of a detective and solve the crime through the power of elapsed time.


The concept of elapsed time requires students to create and understand the relationships between the time a particular task began at, and the time it got finished at. While some students might be quicker in forming those mental relationships, it can take time for other students. Having an understanding of such crucial concepts helps the individual in organizing and scheduling their day, prioritizing tasks, and meeting deadlines which ultimately leads to better time management. This post helps the educators to use the activities to help the students understand the concept better due to their extensive usage in our daily lives.

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