The Final Countdown: 5 Games That Teach Kids to Tell Time

The art of telling time is something your sidekick is still learning. But with 2017 on the horizon, he’s all about the hours. Whether you’ll be waiting for the clock to strike midnight on New Years, or ringing in a Noon Year, you can count on these games to give your little learner the boost he needs to know exactly when to shout “Happy New Year!” Scroll down for the fun!


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1. “Times” Two
This egg-cellent matching game, designed by Scholastic, helps little learners pair digital clocks with their analogue counterparts in a race against time. There’s a little prep up front on this simple game. But once parents have prepped plastic eggs with analog and digital clock pics, it’s time to roll out the game. Scatter the eggs on the ground and let the kids dive in, sorting and matching pairs for points. Whoever has the most matches gets crowned the reigning time champ!

Good to know: Have no fear! Rubbing alcohol makes quick work of Sharpie marker drawn on plastic eggs when the game is over.


2. Tick Tock, Pick It Up
To play this pick-up-sticks copycat game, you’ll need to print out a bundle of blank clock faces to start. Then get down to drawing on big and little hands covering all the time bases, before you start the game. Make them all on-the-hour if your kiddos are still figuring out the basics, or move to half and quarter hours if they need a little challenge. And if your sidekick needs a little more help, write the digital counterpart on the back of the clock for some extra reassurance. At any rate, the more you make, the longer this zany game lasts. Once the clocks are ready to go, scatter them on the ground so tiny players can sift through them to find the right one. You call out the time, they find the match and bring it to you for a point. Play this one head-to-head or let your solo sidekick rack up points on her own.


3. Race Against Time
This get-up-and-move game is as easily played with one kiddo as it is with many, so no matter who’s coming to party at your place this New Year, you can pull this out of your hat. Print out a slew of blank clock faces or use a clock face drawn on a wipe board you can keep reusing for the playing space. Then pair tiny time tellers against each other for a down and draw relay. You yell out a time. They rush down and draw the big and little hands into the right positions to win the round. Use simple on-the-hour times for the tot lot, and challenge older kiddos with half-hour and quarter-to’s. They’ll have it figured out in no time!


4. Spin It To Win It
We took a cue from the old spin the bottle game to design this simple time-telling activity you can play with your Littles. To set up the game, you need to map out a clock on a playing space first. Use tiny items your kidlet can count (think: LEGOs or marbles) as the hours, or make it easy by using numbers written on paper to mark them. Next, use Washi tape for the minute hand (to 12) and place your bottle at the ready. Now it’s time to play. Have the first player spin the bottle and when it lands, the other players race to call out the correct time. Winner gets the next spin. To spice things up, re-tape your minute hand at the 3, 6 or 9 and see how much your wee one has learned. It’s a rock around the clock kind of game!

Tip: We use Washi tape because it comes on and off any surface very easily and rarely leaves marks or damage, plus it’s good for 3 or 4 rounds. You could also make a minute hand arrow out of cardboard, but it’s best if it stays flat and in place.


5. Stack It Up
Building on an idea inspired by Scholastic this simple game that teaches kids how to read digital clocks can be played solo or with sibs and friends. And it’s so simple everyone can get in on the action. First, you’ll need to write digital clock hours on LEGOs or Duplo blocks. We used a Sharpie to do it and it worked like a charm (Once you’ve got a full 24-hours worth, drop them in a bag and give it a good shake before passing it off to your players. From there, kiddos sift and sort to find the right numbers they can use to stack a clock that runs from 12 to 12. Play it competitively against each other, or have solo players beat their own time to add a dash of fun.

Good to know: A little rubbing alcohol will take that Sharpie marker clean off your LEGOs when your little builder is ready to get back to making architectural masterpieces rather than timepieces.

Which one of these games do you think you’ll try? Tell us how it goes in a comment. 

—All photos and copy by Allison Sutcliffe

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