Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks
Maths / Unschooling

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks


Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

If you follow me on Instagram then you would have seen me mention this clock that the girls use before.

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

We’ve had it for a while now and they love it. Honestly, I had no clue how to teach them to read the time. I tried explaining it to my oldest when she asked and I think I just made her more confused! It’s so hard to explain about the big numbers meaning hours but also that between each number is five minutes. See? I’m not even making any sense now am I? I’m sure I’m not the only one! Anyway, I found these clocks and ordered one straight away. Within 10 minutes of arriving my oldest, who I think was 5 back then, had learnt to tell the time! My four year old has recently learnt as well. I think she just took it in from watching her sister but they now both love to run and tell me what time it is or if it’s lunch time or time for ballet, etc.

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

We recently also got the matching watches, and their interest in time and clocks has increased even more now that they can have it with them all the time. Yes, even my little 1.5 year old is in on it, wanting to be like her big sisters, ha!

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

The watches have prompted a few questions and I thought they would be a good example to share of turning a question into a discovery. Miss 4 in particular has always been interested in how things work. She studies things closely and tells me what she thinks is happening. So when they asked me how a clock works I knew it could be a fun thing for them to discover themselves instead of me just giving them the answer.

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

I’ve said before how I feel like my job is not as a teacher but as a facilitator of their own independent learning. So I try not to just give them the answers to their questions. Often I will just turn it back to them and let them wonder and come up with their own ideas.

‘How do you think the clock might work?’

‘I think maybe the batteries make it go?’

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

Next I try to find a way they can discover the answer themselves. This time we happened to have an old clock that can never keep it’s time so I decided to give it to them so they could do their own investigations.

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

After unscrewing it all, they took out all the pieces and wondered about what they might do.

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

‘It has cogs inside’

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

Miss 6 wondering if the cogs fit together this way.

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

Miss 6: ‘I thought the cogs went inside each other first. But I think they fit together like this and they make each other turn’

Miss 4: ‘I think the cogs turn and they make the hands turn!’

Inquiry Based Learning: Clocks

We remembered that we had this book which tells us how some simple machines work and we found a little bit about cogs and discovered they were right!

They then continued to play around with the pieces of the clock, seeing if they could put them back together. Such meaningful learning! I think that they will be much more likely to remember what they have learnt because it is something they have discovered themselves, rather than me just telling them. If you look around there’s usually a way that you can provide a hands on experience to help them answer their own questions!

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” – Socrates


September 18, 2015 at 12:37 pm

My oldest (age 4) has been asking about telling time lately. Most of the clocks in our house (and specifically the ones they have in their rooms for rest time) are digital. Have you incorporated digital clocks in your conversations? I nearly bought the learning clock you have here, but hesitated because it shows the time as “minutes past” and “minutes to” and not the actual number as a digital does. I was worried that part might get confusing.

September 18, 2015 at 2:07 pm

I’ve been working on teaching my daughter to tell time. I love this idea! Thank you for sharing (:

September 18, 2015 at 10:52 pm

Have you come across the book ‘me counting time’? I love that whole series…

September 19, 2015 at 12:09 am

What a fab idea of teaching time. I am eagerly waiting for my LO to grow up. This post wants me to get to that stage when he is really wanting to know what time is it..

September 19, 2015 at 8:36 am

Another brilliant post. You photos are always so bright, clear and welcoming.

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