Activity Plan 5-6: Experimenting With Time
Five, four, three, two, one. Finish up before time runs out!
- Grades: PreK–K
Ready-To-Use Teaching Ideas: Math
- a variety of timers (wind-up kitchen timers, egg timers, and sand timers)
- experience-chart paper
- drawing paper
- materials to make a group sand timer (such as a large jar, paper cups, and fine, clean sand)
Objective: Children will observe, estimate, and record temporal events.
1. Talk with children about time. Ask: "Can people see time? How do people know what time it is?" Discuss how clocks show us that time is passing. Ask: "What would people do if there were no clocks?" Some children may know what time it is by events at home or at school. What else helps us tell time?
2. Present the different timers. Talk about each one land the different ways they work. Help children compare the timers. Set two timers to go off in one minute and see if they both go off at the same time.
3. Help children make time estimations. For example: "How many times can you jump up and down before the sand in this timer runs out?" or "How many plastic-foam balls can you put in a box before the bell rings?" Record children's estimations on a chart and test them out together.
4. Help children understand that timers can also be fused to measure how long it takes to do something. Ask children to choose a timer and measure how long it takes to build a block tower, paint a picture, sing a song, and so on. "Which activities in your day seem to take the longest? The shortest?" Help children order a few activities by time.
5. Make a group sand timer by taping a paper cup with one hole in it inside a glass jar. Ask: "What would happen if we made more holes in the cup? Will the sand come out faster or slower?" Test children's ideas. Use a timer to help you place enough sand in the cup to make it last exactly one minute, two minutes, or three minutes. Try using this to time your next clean-up!
Remember: Help children understand that it isn't important to hurry when they time themselves. The idea is just to see how long each activity takes.
Outdoor Play: Use outdoor play equipment and games to continue time measurements. Show children how to use a stopwatch or timer to record how long it takes each child to climb up and slide down the slide. Children can also measure by counting in unison. Remind children that this is not a race: They should climb carefully.
This activity originally appeared in the October, 1999 issue of Early Childhood Today.