Photo of Sadie with hands on the hour and minutes clock hands and text

Teaching Time: CVI

Follow Sadie as she learns about clocks and time.

Teaching a child to tell time and about clocks is an evolution. It happens throughout their childhood. First, you tell a toddler statements like, “it’s nap time, snack time, time to go see Grandma, wait a minute please.” Children slowly grasp what this means. Then comes the looking at clocks to see what time it is and a formal lesson on seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc. 

When formally teaching Sadie about time, she already had that baseline. Normal parent/teacher conversations you would tell a preschool child. I also had a routine and schedule down so she had predictable outcomes and an understanding of her day at school and at home with her parents. 

In her “typical” pre-K class they were introducing the clock to the group. Sadie heard the group introduction but retaineds very little this way. Novelty and distractions come into play. 

Photo of smiling Saiding holding a tactile clock sitting in front of a larger tactile clock on her desk. Dated 1/26/18.Sadie sitting at a desk moving the hour and minute hands on a tactile clock. Dated 4/30/18.

Students sitting in front of the teacher who is demonstrating a large tactile clock.

Her class then has a “center” for individuals to explore the clocks. This is where my direct instruction took place. I found with Sadie, the most motivating way for her to learn, is for her to see her peers learning the same thing as well. So I don’t know if I would have done a formal lesson on clocks at this time. I might have waited but, this is what the class was doing and Sadie wanteds to learn with her friends. 

Clocks Introduction Lesson

This lesson can be broken down into many lessons and is just a sample of a whole unit that is developed for teaching time. 

Sadie and peer working together with tactile clocks: each girl has her own yellow tactile clock.Sadie and peer working together with a large white tactile clock, placing numbers around the clock face.


Sadie will point and count to the 12 numbers on the clock. She will point to the hour hand and minute hand. 


What does the child know?
What do I want them to learn?
What skills are required for them to achieve this goal? What adaptations must be in place for optimal learning? 


Clocks manipulatives, including a puzzle clock and a talking clock Digital clock
Wall clock
Telling Time Book
Ipad pictures of a child’s day: Waking up, eating, going to school, playing outside, bathtime, bedtime 

Ongoing: Sadie will be introduced to the different times of the day using a school schedule and evening schedule with her parents during the evening while using the analog clock in conjunction with a digital clock. 

Two traditional wall clocks: School clock has school hours highlighted in yellow.

Photo description: We purchased inexpensive clocks from Amazon. I opened them and colored in the time we spend at school. The other was kept at home. 


I recommend a clock like this AND a bold digital clock next in the child’s room and in a common area in the house for frequent time talks. For Example: At 8:00pm we go upstairs for bedtime chores and a book. 


Home Link

Digital and analog clock are placed in home.
Talk to the parent about the lesson and goals: make a simple home schedule the can show their child on the clock for example:
4:00 pm play time
6:00 pm dinner
8:00 pm bath routine and book
8:30 pm bedtime 


With CVI the introduction will be novel. The lesson must be repeated as many times as the instructor feels the child is showing comprehension and retention. This may take a day, two days, a month, or even a year. This lesson is multi-tiered and is teaching many skills. 

If it is taking a long time, reassess review your pre-assessment – does the child know how to count to 12 already, can they look and point at the same time, are my materials appropriate for this child, do I need to break down the lesson into smaller lessons. 

The child has achieved this learning activity when they can independently count all 12 numbers on the clock while pointing to the correct number and point to the hour and minute hands.

Materials Links

APH Analog Clock

Catalog screenshot of APH's Analog Clock Model for $10.page5image1694656page5image1695040

Wall Clock  From Amazon ($11.97)

Talking Toy Clock from Amazon page6image1703680

Maisy’s First Clock Book 

Screenshot of Amazon Cart with two wall clocks, Best Learning Clock (talking clock) and Maisy's First Clock.

Puzzle Clock 

Editor’s Note: Pidoko Puzzle clock is no longer available, but Mellisa & Doug has a similar puzzle clock.

Screenshot of Amazon's Pidoko Puzzle Clock.

Manipulative Clocks: Learning Resources Gear Clock

Editor’s Note: Learning Resources Gear Clock has been replaced by Learning Advantage Student Clock.

Screenshot of Amazon's Learning Resources Gear Clock, 4 inch, set of 6.


Other posts in this series:

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“Ish” book: Drawing, estimating, and digital table activities

Image of the graphed y = sin(x) equation

Understanding Desmos: Sonification lessons

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Safari animal sounds: ePub and tactile graphic activities