7 Manipulatives For Telling Time

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Gone are the days when you have to draw the clocks again and again in your notebook to learn and practice reading the clock and telling time accurately. Now, manipulatives can save the day! Be it physical or virtual, both types of manipulatives provide educators with a tangible and interactive approach to teaching the abstract concept of time making it more accessible and engaging for children. 

Besides knowing the concept of time, it is associated with other skills like number recognition, counting, spatial awareness, fine motor skills, and observational skills. Manipulatives aim to address all these skills and transform the conventional learning environment into a more lively and dynamic one, fostering active participation and deeper comprehension.

In this post, you’ll discover the list of both physical and virtual manipulatives for telling time that can be easily incorporated into the lesson plans helping children obtain a strong command of the concept.

Time-telling tools: Manipulatives to master the clock

Illustrated below is a list of manipulatives that provide interactive and engaging opportunities for students to develop their time-telling skills. By using these tools, teachers can help students reinforce their understanding of analog and digital clocks, practice reading and comparing different time formats, and improve their overall time-telling proficiency.

1. Tactile Clocks 

Tactile Clocks 

These physical clocks are designed with movable hands and tactile features, such as raised numbers or texture on the clock face. Students can physically manipulate the clock’s hands to set and read the time, providing a hands-on experience. 

The number line format makes it easy for students to read and tell time. With the help of this manipulative, students can practice setting the hands of the clock to specific times, calculating elapsed times, and solving time-related word problems.

2. Elapsed time rods 

Elapsed time rods 

The elapsed time rods provide a visual and tangible representation of time intervals. The rods are color-coded to represent specific time intervals like 5 min, 10 min, 15 min, 30 min, and 1 hour which can be employed while calculating time duration or solving word problems related to it. 

These rods can actually build an understanding of how many 5 minutes blocks can make up 30 minutes or so. It can be easily explained how 1 hour is made up of two 30-minute blocks which is further made up of three 10 minutes blocks, etc, making it easy for little learners to visualize the passage of time and duration of specific intervals.

3. Time Manipulative Kit

Time Manipulative Kit

A comprehensive collection of various time-related manipulatives in one kit. It may include clock cards with movable hands, a write & wipe clock, time dice for interactive time-telling games, digital and analog clock puzzle cards, and an activity guide. This activity set is an all-in-one toolbox that can provide little learners with ample hands-on practice and promotes active learning.

By using these interactive manipulatives, kids can actively engage in activities like drawing hands-on clock cards, matching digital and analog times, practicing time-related word problems, making their schedules, and exploring, experimenting, and manipulating the movable hands of the plastic clock.

4. Time-Teaching Board

Time-Teaching Board

A board specially designed for teaching time. It includes removable clock cards and other time-related manipulatives like an hour and minute cards. Students can arrange and manipulate the cards to practice time-telling and sequencing activities. The movable hands of the clock and the magnetic numbers provide an interactive and engaging learning experience fostering deep conceptual understanding.

This board can be hung on the wall, or door or even can be stuck to the chalkboard with a tape making it easily accessible to the students and the teacher. This effective tool can help kids recognize 1 – 12 numbers, count minutes to 60, remember numbers as multiples of 5, and so on.

5. Fraction Clock

Fraction Clock

Fraction clock sets feature clock pieces divided into different fractions that provide students with a different view of the clock helping them understand how an hour is made up of fragments of minutes. From these pieces, they can easily comprehend how many 15 minutes can make up an hour equipping them with the concept of elapsed time.

This interactive manipulative not only provides hands-on experience to learn to tell time but also deals with fractions. Students can indulge in activities in which they need to calculate the elapsed time or figure out the time required for every activity after completing every activity. 

6. Telling Time Flipbook

Telling Time Flipbook

This flipbook encompasses a clock with movable hands along with flap numbers that help students to learn to tell the time in both digital and analog clock formats. It is made of thick cardboard that is perfectly binded and laminated enhancing the strength and durability of the product. Moreover, it can be folded making it easy to carry around, and has been given a triangular shape stand so that it won’t tip easily.

It can be used both ways, for instance, the teacher or guardian can show the time in digital format using flap numbers and ask kids to manipulate the movable hands and represent the time and vice versa. After, children are equipped with both formats, blank cards which are laminated to wipe, practice and reuse are also given to let students write the time on their own.

7. Lego Blocks

Lego Blocks

Just like how these lego building blocks can make different structures, these can be used to show how minutes make up an hour. These can be used to represent different parts of an hour, for instance, blocks with one stud can be used to represent 1 minute or 5 minutes and similarly the two blocks with one stud can represent 2 minutes or 10 minutes respectively. 

Most of the children already have these blocks available with them as these are one of the basic toys that are recommended for them. Write these minute representations on the blocks with a marker and ask questions from kids and let them calculate and solve them by using these blocks. Also, make a structure of these blocks and show them how 12 X 5 minutes can make up an hour and so on.

Interactive virtual manipulatives for telling time

Digital learning platforms are continuously evolving and upgrading to provide a seamless learning experience bridging the gaps between theoretical knowledge and practical applications. Besides tactile manipulatives for clocks, virtual manipulatives can also provide hands-on practice with captivating visuals and interactive features. Listed below are some of the virtual manipulatives to teach, learn, and practice telling time.

1. Math Clock by The Math Learning Center

Math Clock by The Math Learning Center

This manipulative will transform your time learning experience to the next level. It provides a canvas-like interface with all the tools at the bottom. You can explore and experiment with different options and customize your clock accordingly. Along with the concept of telling time, students can be equipped with the concept of elapsed time and fractions.

Moreover, it has got a pencil tool to draw anything freely, a digital calculator, and a text tool to write anything on the board and teach. You can also share your work by sharing the link, capturing the image, or with a share code. It is an effective digital tool that aims to provide a dynamic and enjoyable teaching and learning experience.

Official Link

2. Interactive Clock by Toy Theater

Interactive Clock by Toy Theater

This is a simple but interactive clock that features both digital and analog clock versions with movable clock hands. As and when you move your hands, the time in the digital clock keeps changing providing the real-time experience of learning to read and tell time. 

There is an option to change the format of the time to a 12-hour or 24-hour format. The multiples of 5 are given in such a way that these are easily visible. The clock also features minute markers that help kids easily read the analog clock and comprehend the concept of minutes. Moreover, you can also turn on and off the hour hand or minute hand in order to avoid confusion and have a smooth learning experience.

Official Link

3. Teaching Clock by Topmarks

Teaching Clock by Topmarks

This teaching tool provides an all-in-one platform that lets you teach and practice in both digital and analog formats along with 12-hour and 24-hour systems. You can easily switch between clocks and practice. 

In addition to this, it features time minutes fragments to provide a clear picture of the movement of the clock hands which can be used to teach about elapsed time and also to calculate the duration of time between two time stamps. Also, you can reset the clock anytime, check the current time, and set the clock to any random time in am or pm. Students can read the clock, show the time, calculate, and solve word problems related to time easily.

Official Link

4. Interactive Clock by Visnos

Interactive Clock by Visnos

This is a one-stop platform for everything that one needs to teach or let students practice reading and telling time. You can switch between modes of the clock from a simple clock to a clock with angles, fractions, or even styles with multiple options that let you customize the clock according to your requirements. 

It has got a dice that on rolling shows you any random time that can be used for ample practice of reading the clock and telling the time. You can choose between a 12-hour format or a 24-hour format. This interactive clock not only teaches about time but also equips children with the concept of angles and fractions.

Official Link

5. Interactive Clock for Kids by Room Recess

Interactive Clock for Kids by Room Recess

Room Recess has provided an interactive clock featuring bold and large minute markers and numbers that makes it easy for children to comprehend, read and tell time. Though the clock hands always move in relation to each other, there is an option to lock one of the hands so that you can move another one independently in this manipulative.

Students can be asked to set a particular time and then check their answer by clicking on the show option for the digital version, or the teacher can set the hands of the clock and ask the child to read and tell time which can be again checked with the help hide and show option given for digital clock. 

Official Link

Time-telling toolbox: Effective strategies for mastering the clock

How to teach telling time to students calls for a systematic approach and efforts to make it easy for them to comprehend the concept and practice. Listed below are a few strategies that can be easily employed for a smooth learning and teaching process.

  • Scaffolded Learning: Begin by teaching the concept of hours and gradually introduce minutes. Start with whole hours (e.g., 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock) and then move on to half-hours, quarter-hours, and minutes past the hour.
  • Use Real-Life Examples: Relate the concept of time to students’ daily routines and activities. Discuss what they do at specific times of the day (e.g., waking up, eating lunch, going to bed) to help them understand how time is relevant to their lives.
  • Visual Representations: Utilize visual aids such as large analog clocks, digital clocks, or interactive smartboard displays to demonstrate and practice reading time. Highlight the hour and minute hands or the digital numbers as you explain different times.
  • Relate to Analog and Digital Formats: Help students understand the relationship between analog and digital clocks. Teach them how to convert between the two formats by matching analog clock faces with corresponding digital times.
  • Time Word Problems: Present word problems or scenarios that involve time, such as “If a movie starts at 5:30 PM and lasts for 2 hours, what time will it end?” This helps students apply their time-telling skills in real-life contexts.
  • Differentiate Practice: Provide differentiated practice activities to cater to different student needs and levels of understanding. Some students may require more practice with hour increments, while others may be ready for more challenging exercises involving minutes and elapsed time.
  • Reinforcement through Games and Technology: Utilize educational games, apps, activities, and online resources that offer interactive exercises and quizzes for telling time. These can provide additional reinforcement and engagement for students.


Teaching how to read the clock and tell time can be arduous at times and to make the process fun and engaging, manipulatives can save the day. By using manipulatives students can explore and interact with time in a hands-on way, deepening their understanding of analog and digital concepts and increasing their retention power. These manipulatives can bring the concept to life and foster active participation and deep learning.

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