Telling the Time on a Digital Clock

digital clock

It is easy enough for a child to read the numbers on a digital clock – but this is not the same as being able to read a digital time. To read a digital time accurately, it is important that a child understands what the numbers mean.

Follow our easy guide so that your child can learn to understand digital times and translate them into analogue times.

Begin by explaining that the numbers to the left of the dots represent the hours and the numbers to the right of the dots represent the minutes. Show them a diagram like this one to illustrate this point:

digital hours minutes

Explain that on a digital clock, we are always shown how many minutes have gone past the hour.

Remind your child that there are 60 minutes in one hour, so if it is 51 minutes past 12, that it is nearly 1 o’clock.

clock with blanksGive your child a picture of a clock with the numbers 1 to 12 written on. You can print THIS ONE. Tell them that we are going to count in fives in order to fill in all the boxes on the clock.

clock with digital times

Help your child complete the boxes on the clock with 05, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 00 in the appropriate places.

Explain that the numbers in the boxes are the digital times. Explain that when it is 5 past on the analogue clock, the digital clock will show 05 in the minutes, when it is 10 past, this will show as 10 and so on. Show them the clocks below and talk through it with them. You can print this sheet HERE.

analogue and digital minutes

Next, cover up the digital times on this sheet and ask your child to tell you the corresponding time on the digital clock when you point to an analogue time.

Then cover up the analogue times and ask them to say what the analogue time is for each digital time.

Once your child is secure with these steps, they are ready to start telling the digital time with both hours and minutes.

Show them some times on an analogue clock (you can use this online one), or use the ones below. Ask them to say what a digital clock would show at each time.times to tellNext, show them a series of digital times (you can use this online digital clock) or use the ones below. Ask them to tell you the analogue time, i.e. “it is five to 1”, times to tellOnce your child can confidently translate these times then they are proficient at understanding the digital time. Well done!

great job imagePlease notice that only the 12-hour digital clock is taught on this page. This knowledge needs to be secure before teaching the 24-hour clock. Instructions on teaching the 24-hour clock can be found HERE.