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elapsed time

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nicole e.

I am at that point in the year where I'm trying to review those math areas that some students just never really mastered, elapsed time being a big one in my class. I'm wondering if anyone knows of good websites or has jewels of wisdom for getting those having trouble to catch on. (I truly think elapsed time is a developmental thing- it's one area in math that I feel I can teach and teach and four or five just never really get it because I simply think they're not ready, but I still try!)


Full Member
To help my students master this I just gave them lots and lots of practice. I created worksheets that contained stories that they coudl relate to. I used their names and events in their lives. On the worksheets I also provided quick of telling time. I kept it easy to get their confidence up. I also wrote a problem of the day everyday on the board to practice this skill. Another act. we did was create mini-books. On page one- they wrote a something along the lines "On Monday, Tom woke up at 8:15 a.m.. 15 minutes went by before he actually got out of bed. What time did Tom get out of bed?" They drew a clock with the starting time and a picture to go along with their story. Then they switched books. Child #2 solved the problem and then drew the clock with the new time and a picture to go along with the story o npage 2. This child then created the story prob. on page three and gave it to another child to solve on the next page. This went on and on over weeks... some books were quite long- but the kids loved it! I left some books in the book area and the children love reading them and solving the prob. SOme kids have also added more pages! Like I said it is all about practice, practice, practice. Another act. would be to give each child (or make) small clocks and do whole class problems out loud. They can manipulate the clocks to show the time (great for those kinesthetic learners). Have them hold up their clocks so yo ucan see who is and is not getting it. Practice often! My students love this too!

Good luck.

email me if you want- I have a few websites you can look at. lismac@comcast.net


Full Member
Hi! I learned a strategy for teaching elapsed time at a workshop about three years ago that is awesome. Now that I teach this difficult skill using the techniques this teacher shared my third graders have ALWAYS been able to find elpased time. I'm going to do my best to explain it, but it's really one of those things you need to see. If you can't make any sense out of my words, maybe I could scan an example and send it to you via e-mail. Here goes:

1. Jamie put a pizza in the oven at 1:25. It cooked for 30 minutes. What time was it when the pizza was ready to eat?

The student draws a t-chart. At the top on the left side write the start time-1:25. On the top at the other side write min. Now, in between the two draw an arrow pointing up to show that we are counting up. Next, make several horizontal lines going down the t-chart. Under "min." write 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30. On the other side, under 1:25, count up the time until it is on the same line as "30." The left side should say 1:30, 1:35, 1:40, 1:45, 1:50, 1:55. The answer is 1:55 and I have the kids circle it.

This will work with virtually any kind of elapsed time problem.

2. Kyle's soccer practice started at 4:10 and lasted until 4:40. How long did soccer practice last?

The student draws a t-chart. At the top on the left side write the start time-4:10. On the top at the other side write min. Now, in between the two draw an arrow pointing up to show that we are counting up. Next, make several horizontal lines going down the t-chart. Under the start time count up at five minute intervals until it shows 4:40. Under min. count up by fives until you are on the same line as 4:40 and there you have how much time has passed! (30 min.)

3. Tamia went to the mall at 2:20 and shopped for one hour and 10 minutes. What time was it when Tamia left the mall?

This time you will complete two t-charts, one for the hours and the other for minutes. Do the hour chart first. The student draws a t-chart. On top of the left side write 2:20. On the top of the right side write hours. Don't forget the arrow pointing up! Now make several horizontal lines and label the first underneath hours with 1. Now move 2:20 to 3:20. The next thing to do is create the minutes t-chart and use 3:20 as the start time.

I promise that if you can figure out what I'm trying to explain this will work for your students. My students always love it! One thing they have to learn to look for is whether the problem requires them to find the minutes elapsed or to find a new time. That's how they know which side of the t-chart to work first. They will eventually get to the point where they don't even need the t-charts. If your time has minutes that aren't at intervals of five you can still do it. For example, if the time is 2:12 just add five to that to get 2:17. If you are subtracting time the arrow should point down. You have to teach this step-by-step but they will quickly catch on.

Please let me know if you have anyquestions. Thanks!


Senior Member
I get it!

I love this idea! I can't wait to try it out on the students. Thank-you!

nicole e.

thank you

Thanks to both of you for your help! I appreciate the time you took to explain- I will have more ammo for Monday! I'll let you know how it goes!


Senior Member

This is great!! I think I understand this strategy, but if you can, could you e-mail me an example of one? I'm a visual learner.

Thanks a bunch!!!


Senior Member
Thanks, Betsy!!!

I used your method with my fourth graders and it worked beautifully!! I shared it with my co-workers, and, again, it worked perfectly! One teacher told me he has ALWAYS had trouble teaching it, until I gave him a copy of your explanation. Your description worked out perfectly for us! Thanks again and again!:s) :s) :s) :s) :s)


Senior Member
Did I do this correctly??

OK.. I did this in a Excel sheet... if I did it correctly, it will give you a paper copy to look at or share with colleagues...

This is brilliant.. I agree, they need to put this in text books!
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stephen tatu

elapsed time strategy

I recently used the t-chart strategy when re-teaching elapsed time to my 3rd graders and it worked beautifully. Before elapsed time was such a hard concept for them to understand but now they are able to trully work independently to prove their answers. THANKS!!


New Member
Looks great

That Excel sheet looks good and makes complete sense. Thanks for taking the time to do that!!

This is a great help in teaching elapsed time.




Thank you for the strategy for teaching elapsed time! I shared it with my 4th grade team and we were very successful teaching this concept to our 4th grade students. THANK YOU! You are awesome. For those of you that teach elapsed time, this is the strategy to use. The kids love it and catch on quickly.

3rd gr tchr

Thank you so much for taking the time to write it out in detail. This has helped tremendously!


Elapsed Time

Hi Betsy,
Thank you so much for this wonderful strategy. I am going to try it out with my students. What grade do you teach? Is this something 4th graders can catch on to?
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