Elapsed time is one of those real-world math skills that is so useful but at the same time can be so tricky for kids! You’ll definitely want to plan time to teach a few different strategies and offer lots of practice! Let’s dig into some activities and strategies for teaching elapsed time in 4th and 5th grade.
Elapsed Time Strategies
By 4th grade, your students have likely had practice with elapsed time to the hour and half-hour. This is fairly easy to review using handheld clocks, number lines, and even mental math.
Where it gets more challenging is when students have to determine an amount of time like 9 hours and 17 minutes – or when they have to figure out when an event started or ended. There are a few different ways to solve these problems.
My favorite elapsed time strategy is a visual one. It’s simply drawing a blank number line and then making marks to jump forward or backward a certain number of hours or minutes. Another version of this is called “mountains, hills, and rocks”. I like the flexibility of this strategy, and it’s my go-to for problems I can’t easily do in my head.
Another helpful strategy is to use a t-chart to add/subtract minutes and/or hours. It’s the same method, but organized differently. It’s a good visual aid for students, especially if you use different colors for the hours and minutes.
Counting up or down to benchmark numbers on the clock like :00, :15, :30, and :45 (really, any of the “5’s”) also makes solving elapsed time problems easier. And it’s really helpful for mental math.
Practicing Elapsed Time
Whatever strategy they pick, most students will need repeated practice with the 3 different types of elapsed time problems – determining how much time has passed, when an event began, and when an event ended.
This means a lot of practice with word problems as they master these strategies. And it’s also easy to ask families to talk about elapsed time at home!
Elapsed Time Activities
At the same time (ha), drill worksheets with 50 problems to a page are a super painful way to review.
I love these standards-based elapsed time activities to help students practice elapsed time within 12 hours – including all 3 types of problems.
There are some straightforward elapsed time worksheets, but I’ve also included hands-on activities that make it fun to review this standard!
The elapsed time pack has over 30 pages, including:
- 4 anchor charts (including blank and completed versions)
- 3 word wall cards
- 2 interactive notebook activities
- 2 graphic organizers
- 8 differentiated worksheets
- differentiated sorting activity
- 10 matching puzzles activity
- recording sheets
- answer keys
I especially love the hands-on word problems sort because students have to identify what kind of elapsed time problem they need to solve. This is a helpful way to support students who need practice figuring out what a word problem is asking.
The resources in this pack can be used for classwork, homework, math centers, review, assessment, and of course, spring math test prep.
Daily Elapsed Time Word Problems
I’m a little obsessed with bringing word problems into every math unit to help students see how we use each skill in real life.
My daily elapsed time word problems set includes 30 questions to help students practice this standard. Lots of them include pictures or tables so that students have to locate the information they need.
These are great for a daily warm-up or a spiral review activity to get students practicing elapsed time strategies throughout the year.
Determining elapsed time can be challenging for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, but it’s an important real-world math skill to learn. I hope these elapsed time strategies and activities help your students!