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Maths in pictures: Time

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By Laura Wardclass teacher at Cove Junior School

Use real-life images to inspire numeracy activities on the theme of time.

Graphic figure with clock

Time is a surprisingly vast topic, covering not only reading both analogue and digital clocks, but also working out time duration, converting times, and understanding and using dates and calendars. The following activities will allow children to discover a practical use to all aspects of time by using a number of real-life problems and images.

Begin the lesson by using one of the maths images on the Interactive resource, ‘Maths in pictures – time’ to kick-start a discussion on time problems before moving on to one of the activities below. You can then return to one of the more difficult image questions in the PowerPoint® presentation to assess learning during the plenary.


  1. Holiday time
  2. Time zones
  3. Birthday reminders

1. Holiday time

Explain to the children that they are going to plan their own activity holidays. Show them a list of potential activities that they might want to take part in and a specific duration for each one. For example:

Swimming — 45 minutes Pony trekking — 1 ½ hours Dance class — 30 minutes Sailing — 2 ½ hours Disco — 2 hours Football training — 1 hour Rock climbing — 45 minutes

You could also include the time taken to get ready for an activity, or to travel from one activity to another.

The children’s task is to create a day’s itinerary, starting at 9.00am and ending at 5.00pm. They must remember to include some time for lunch! The activity can be extended further by asking the children to write an itinerary for several members of a family, making sure that they all meet for lunch at a certain time. The children could also invent their own activities – ensure the durations they decide on are appropriate.

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2. Time zones

Visit a website (such as the Earth and Moon viewer for example) to see the world in real time, showing which areas are in darkness and which are in light. This can lead to a discussion about why there are different time zones. Use a time zone map (such as the Interactive resource, ‘Time zones around the world’ to calculate what time it would be in New York, Paris, Beijing and Sydney when it is midday in London.

Challenge the children to investigate how long it takes to fly to a number of European capital cities. Which are the longest and shortest journeys? By visiting sites such as children can find out the departure and arrival times for flights to various cities and use these to work out the flight durations. They will need to be reminded that these times are local, so it might not be as straight forward as it seems! They should convert the local times to British times before attempting to use them to find the duration.

This activity could be extended by inviting the children to plan their own ‘whistle-stop tour’ of Europe, creating an itinerary showing the chosen flight times and duration of time in the air for each day, starting and ending in the UK.

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3. Birthday reminders

Show the children a page from a conventional calendar and discuss its layout. Ask the children: Why does it have seven columns? How many rows are there? Why?

Next, give each group of children a calendar. They should take it in turns to turn the calendar to their birthday month and mark in their birthday in the right place. When everyone has noted their birthdays, get the children to work out how many days there are between each birthday. What strategies can they use to help them calculate this, instead of counting each day?

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All readers can access the Interactive resource, ‘Maths in pictures – time’ – a PowerPoint® presentation of real-life images to stimulate maths thinking skills. ‘Scale and ratio’ and ‘measurement’ activities and resources are also available.



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