Passing Time

The Ministry is migrating nzmaths content to Tāhurangi.           
Relevant and up-to-date teaching resources are being moved to Tāhūrangi ( 
When all identified resources have been successfully moved, this website will close. We expect this to be in June 2024. 
e-ako maths, e-ako Pāngarau, and e-ako PLD 360 will continue to be available. 

For more information visit


In these five activities the ākonga explore sequences of time and the concept of faster and slower. These are teacher-led, whole class activities.

Achievement Objectives
GM1-1: Order and compare objects or events by length, area, volume and capacity, weight (mass), turn (angle), temperature, and time by direct comparison and/or counting whole numbers of units.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Sequence events within a day.
  • Describe a duration as long or short.
  • Name and order the days of the week.
Description of Mathematics

Ākonga experience with time has two aspects:

  • duration - the length of time passing
  • telling time - indicating time at a particular moment. 

This unit concerns duration of time.

Ākonga need to develop an understanding of the duration of time and must be able to identify moments of time. Time differs from other areas of measurement, in that ākonga are more likely to meet the standard units of time such as days and hour times, before they have fully grasped the concept of duration of time.

Right from the start ākonga need to be acquainted with the concept of time as duration. They need to have many experiences of duration in order to establish that an event has a starting and finishing point and that these determine the duration of that event. Arranging pictures of events in the current sequence helps develop the concept of duration. The use of relevant words (e.g. before, after, soon, now, later, bedtime, lunchtime), helps to develop the understanding of this attribute of time.

Looking at standard cycles of time follows from the sequencing of daily events. Ākonga learn the sequence of the days of the week. However, ākonga may not intially understand the repeated use of these names. Terms such as today, tomorrow, yesterday, and weekend can be learnt in relation to the cycle of days. The sequence of months can also be developed as well as the grouping of months into seasons. Ākonga may comprehend the week cycle more quickly than the year cycle, because of more frequent experiences of the weekly cycle.

Opportunities for Adaptation and Differentiation

The learning opportunities in this unit can be differentiated by providing more support or challenge to ākonga. For example, session 2 could be modified to include pictures or photos of different activities that ākonga place in a sequence. Alternatively the strip of paper could be split into fewer or more sections depending on the confidence of the child.

The contexts for this unit are strongly based on the experiences of your ākonga.  It could be strengthened, if appropriate, by collecting information from whānau about their child’s after school routines (session 3) and by bringing photos of different members of their whānau or themselves to order by age (session 5). 

Te reo Māori vocabulary terms such as, wa (time), ra (day) roa (long), and poto (short) could be introduced in this unit and used throughout other mathematical learning. Other te reo Maori that could be useful in this unit are the names of days of the week.

Required Resource Materials
  • Book 'How Maui slowed the sun' by Peter Gossage
  • String and pegs to hang pictures
  • Paper
  • Crayons
  • Paper strips with the days of the week written on each strip. Use 2 colours, one colour for weekdays and another colour for the weekend.
  • Staples or cellotape
  • Paper
  • Pictures of people of varying ages
  • Magazines

Read ‘How Maui slowed the sun’. Discuss aspects from the story with ākonga.

For example; Why were Maui and his whanau angry at the sun? How do you think you would feel if you lived with his whanau? What are our days like now? Do you think this story is true? Why or why not? (Maui’s story is a traditional Maori story told to explain the length of days).

Session 1: Time on a line

In this activity we sequence events which occur within a school day.

  • String and pegs to hang pictures
  • Paper
  • Crayons
  1. Brainstorm with the ākonga all the things that they do in a school day, for example, reading, newsboard, playtime, mathematics, lunchtime, writing, hometime.
  2. Ask ākonga to draw a picture of something that they do every day at school. Work with ākonga to write captions for their pictures.
  3. Bring ākonga together to pin their events on the line of string.
  4. As each student pegs their picture on the line, ask them to explain where it goes. If more than one student has drawn the same event, tape them together.
    Where does your picture go?
    What happens before your picture?
  5. When everyone has pegged their picture to the line, discuss the order of events and ask them to decide where new events belong. 

    Where would I put playtime?
    Where would I put your parents coming to collect you from school?
    Which are morning events?
    Which events happen in the afternoon?

Session 2: My day

In this activity we sequence the events in our day from when we wake up until when we go to bed. We make these into a wrap-around-book.

  • A strip of paper divided into 5 sections
  1. Begin by asking ākonga to tell you about the first thing they do when they wake up.
    The first thing I do is look out the window.
    What do you do?
  2. Get them to draw the first thing that they do on the first segment of the strip. Share the drawings.
  3. Ask the ākonga to think about the last thing that they do each day. (In bed asleep)
  4. Draw this on the last segment.
  5. Now ask the ākonga to think about the other things that they do during the day.
  6. Tell your friend about the things you do.
  7. Fill in the other pictures on your day chart.
  8. Join the ends of the strip to make a wrap-around-book.
  9. Share the "My day books".

Session 3

In this activity we sequence days of the week. The activity works best if it can be developed over a week, taking a couple of minutes a day. The learning in this session could be complemented with singing a song about the days of the week (in English and other relevant languages).

  • Paper strips with the days of the week written on each strip in English and in te reo Māori. Use 2 colours - one colour for the weekdays and one colour for the weekend.
  • Staples or cellotape
  1. On Monday give each student a strip of paper with Monday written in both English and Māori.
  2. Ask the ākonga to tell you events that happen on Monday – list these on a chart.
    On Monday I ….go to ballet, visit Grandpa etc
    Ask each student to write one thing that happens on Monday on their strip. They can copy one from the class chart if they prefer.
  3. Help ākonga join the ends of their paper strip to form a loop.
  4. On Tuesday repeat the process, linking the Tuesday loop to Monday’s loop.
  5. Repeat this for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
  6. On Friday ask ākonga:
    On what day does the chain start?
    How many days are in the chain? Can you say them in English? In Māori?
    What day was it yesterday?
    What day is it today?
    What day is it tomorrow?
  7. Add loops for Saturday and Sunday.
  8. In the following weeks loops can be added to a class chain to develop the idea of repetition of days of the week.
    Example of a chain made from loops.

Session 4 : Fast and Slow

In this activity we discuss things that move quickly and slowly. We begin by reading the story of the hare and the tortoise.

  • Paper
  1. Begin the activity by exploring fast and slow actions.
    Let’s wave our hands quickly…now slowly
    Let’s clap quickly…slowly
    Let’s blink quickly…slowly
  2. Ask ākonga to share their ideas for other fast and slow actions.
    What other things can we do quickly and then slowly? Make links to relevant learning from other curriculum areas, where possible (e.g. we can beat the drum quickly, we can write letters slowly).
  3. Discuss things that ākonga know that go fast or slow. List these ideas on a chart of slow and fast things.
  4. Ask ākonga to think of their favourite fast thing and their favourite slow thing. Draw these onto a piece of paper.
  5. Share the pictures of fast and slow things.

Session 5: Ages

In this activity we begin by looking at pictures of people of varying ages. Alternatively, use photos of you, the teacher, at various ages from birth until your present age.

  • Pictures of people of varying ages, images from the internet, photos from magazine, or family photos
  • Magazines
  1. Gather ākonga on the mat to show them the pictures. Begin with the picture of a baby. (If it is a photo of you, get the ākonga to guess who they think it is.)
    How old do you think the baby is?
    Do you know any babies? Who?
  2. Show two more pictures of ākonga.
    Who do you think is older?
    How can you tell?
    How old do you think that student might be?
    Is that older or younger than you?
  3. Before you show the next picture ask ākonga to guess who it might be a picture of (mother, grandmothera, kuia, toua)
    What picture do you think I am going to show you next? Why did you guess that?
  4. As you discuss the pictures display them on a line in order of age.
  5. Ask ākonga to either cut from magazines or draw 4 pictures of people of different ages.
  6. Give the sets to other ākonga to order.
  7. Share the strips of pictures.
Add to plan

Log in or register to create plans from your planning space that include this resource.

Level One