Passing Time


In these five activities the students 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

Students’ 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.

Students need to develop an understanding of the duration of time as well as being able to identify moments of time. Time differs from other areas of measurement, in that students 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 students 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 such words as before, after, soon, now, later, bedtime, lunchtime, etc., helps to develop the understanding of this attribute of time.

Looking at standard cycles of time follows from the sequencing of daily event. Students learn the sequence of the days of the week but initially may not fully understand the way we use the names repeatedly. Terms such as today, tomorrow, yesterday, weekend, etc., 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. However, students grasp the week cycle more quickly than the year cycle probably because they have more experience of the former and it happens more often.

Opportunities for Adaptation and Differentiation

The learning opportunities in this unit can be differentiated by providing more support or challenge to students. For example, Session 2 could be modified to include pictures or photos of different activities that students 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 students.  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). 

Required Resource Materials
  • 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

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 students all the things that they do in a school day, for example, reading, newsboard, playtime, maths, lunchtime, writing, hometime.
  2. Ask the students to draw a picture of something that they do every day at school. Work with the students to write captions for their pictures.
  3. Bring the students together to pin their events on the line of string.
  4. As each student pegs their picture to 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 the students 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 students 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 students 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.

  • 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
  1. On Monday give each student a strip of paper with Monday written in both English and Māori.
  2. Ask the students 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 students 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 the students:
    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.
    days of the week.

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 the students to share their ideas for other fast and slow actions.
    What other things can we do quickly and then slowly?
  3. Discuss things that students know that go fast or slow. List these ideas on a chart of slow and fast things.
  4. Ask the students 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. (An alternative idea is to 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 the students on the mat to show them the pictures. Begin with the picture of a baby. (If it is a photo of you get the students 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 students.
    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 the students to guess who it might be a picture of. (mother, grandmother)
    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 the students to either cut from magazines or draw 4 pictures of people of different ages.
  6. Give the sets to other students to order.
  7. Share the strips of pictures.
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Level One