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Grouchy Lessons of Time

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This lesson provides an introduction to and practice with the concept of time. The activities focus students’ attention on the attributes of time and enables students at varying levels to develop knowledge and skills in using time.

Gather students in a large group. Ask them to name the different time frames within a day—morning, afternoon, and night. Have students share activities they participate in during the morning time (for example, wake up, eat breakfast, and brush teeth), afternoon (for example, eat lunch, play outside, and go home from school), and night (for example, eat supper, do homework, and watch TV).

If students have difficulty, ask such guiding questions as “When do you eat breakfast?” or “When do you take a bath?” For older students, you might ask them if they know exactly what time (to the hour) they do these things. Students at upper level of the grade band should also be expected to write the activities they do at each time of the day. As younger students share ideas, record their answers on a chart or the board using three columns that correspond to the three times of day.

707 times of day

Read the story The Grouchy Ladybug, by Eric Carle, to the class. This is a story about a grouchy ladybug and her adventures throughout the day. It documents her adventures each hour of the day and includes a picture of a clock with the indicated hour on each page. As you read the story, guide students’ attention to the clocks, times of day, and activities that the ladybug participates in.

After reading the story, introduce the attributes of time using real clocks. Explain that clocks are the most common instrument used to tell time and give students a variety of examples, such as an analog clock, a digital clock, and a watch. For younger students at this grade band, use a demonstration clock to model the times pictured in The Grouchy Ladybug and review the activities that the ladybug did during the morning, afternoon, and evening. With older students, talk about and model how to tell time to the hour.

Distribute a copy of the Morning, Noon, and Night Activity Sheet to each student. Have students draw pictures of activities they do during each period of the day and allow them to dictate a sentence about their picture.

pdficonMorning, Noon, and Night Activity Sheet

  • Book: The Grouchy Ladybug, by Eric Carle  
  • Demonstration clock with hour and minute hands  
  • Morning, Noon, and Night Activity Sheet 
  • Materials needed for the Extension: 
  • Paper plates  
  • Brass tack fasteners  
  • Crayons or markers  
  • Construction paper clock hands (pre-made)  
  • Making Clocks Overhead  

Assessment Options

  1. At this point, it is important to assess whether or not students understand the attributes of time. You might collect data and document information about the following:
    • How accurately do students identify activities that occur at given times of the day?
    • What knowledge of time do students demonstrate in their sharing of experiences? Do they use vocabulary indicating conventional understandings?
    • How accurately are students at the upper level of grade band able to tell time to the hour using a analog and digital clocks?
  2. You can assess these concepts using the activities students participated in during this lesson. Students at the lower end of the grade band demonstrate mastery through drawing, naming activities appropriate for each phase of the day, and by talking. Students at the upper end of the grade band demonstrate mastery through telling time correctly, by showing the designated time on their own clocks, and by writing about activities and experiences with time.


1. For practice, have students at the upper end of the grade band, make their own ladybug clock. See the Making Clocks Overhead for directions on making a paper plate ladybug clock.
pdficon  Making Clocks Overhead 

After students make their clock, use the clocks to practice telling time to the hour and any other time increments you think that the students are ready to demonstrate (for instance, second graders often recognize the half hour). Have students work in pairs to show the time on their clock and tell their partner the time. To create a recording, students could draw pictures of clocks, mark them with the times they modeled, and label them with standard notation.

2. Move on to the last lesson, The Weight of Things.

Questions for Students 

1. Why do we need to be able to tell time at home? At school?

[Student responses may vary.]

2. How can we tell time?

[Accept and encourage answers of nonstandard (the sun comes up, the sun goes down, the alarm goes off, getting up) as well as standard units of time.]

3. In what activities does our class participate during the morning? What activities do we do in the afternoon? What school activities do you do in the evening?

[Student responses may vary.]

Teacher Reflection 

  • Is there another piece of literature appropriate for teaching time?
  • Which students met all objectives of the lesson? Which students did not meet the lesson objectives?
  • What adjustments could be made in future lessons to teach this concept? What materials would help students understand and apply concepts of time?
  • What strategies and materials will I use to reteach time to those who did not master it?
  • What extension activities would be appropriate for continuing to teach time to students of this age and grade?

The Length of My Feet

This lesson focuses students’ attention on the attributes of length and develops their knowledge of and skill in using nonstandard units of measurement. It provides practice with and remediation of the measurable attributes of length.

The Area of Things ...

Students have opportunities to recognize and use the attributes of length and area using non-standard units.

Drop by Drop

In this lesson, students recognize and use the attributes of volume. They engage in activities that promote understanding of how to measure volume using standard units.

The Weight of Things

This lesson introduces and provides practice with the measurable attributes of weight. It also gives an opportunity to assess student knowledge of and skill in using measurement of mass. This learning experience focuses students’ attention on the attributes of weight using hands-on activities and active learning.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Recognize the attributes of time.
  • Measure time using standard and nonstandard units.
  • Identify typical activities performed at various times of the day.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Recognize the attributes of length, volume, weight, area, and time.
  • Understand how to measure using nonstandard and standard units.

Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

Grade 1, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.B.3
    Tell and write time in hours and half-hours using analog and digital clocks.

Grade 2, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.C.7
    Tell and write time from analog and digital clocks to the nearest five minutes, using a.m. and p.m.