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Learn to watch / learn to read the clock

At the latest in the 2nd grade of primary school, children should learn to read the clock. The following content is offered in this article:

  • A Explanation what analog and digital clocks are and how to read them.
  • Numerous Examples to read the clock.
  • tasks and Exercises where you should read the clock yourself, with sample solutions.
  • A video area with Videos learn to read the clock.
  • A Question and answer area with typical questions on this topic.

Notes: Anyone who would like to learn to read the clock should already know a few absolute basics of mathematics. This includes counting forwards and backwards, plus and minus tasks up to 20 and neighboring numbers. In this article, we'll look at how to read the clock. A follow-up article deals with the calculation of time spans or duration.

Learning to read the clock: explanation

There are basically two different types of clocks: analog clocks and digital clocks. We want to look at both types here. Before that, however, it should be clear to everyone how a day is structured. Say what seconds, minutes and hours are all about.


You should learn this by heart:

  • A day has 24 hours.
  • One hour has 60 minutes.
  • A minute has 60 seconds.
  • The day starts at midnight and ends at midnight.

Digital clocks:

Let's start by reading digital clocks. Because this is much easier than reading analog clocks. The display of a digital clock looks something like this:

The number of hours that have already passed on the day are at the front. In this case it is 6 hours. In addition, another 31 minutes have passed. So a total of 6 hours and 31 minutes have passed that day.

Sometimes there is also a seconds display. This is usually shown a little smaller. In this case, not only 6 hours and 31 minutes have passed, but an additional 12 seconds.

Analog clocks:

Analog clocks are constructed differently. Two hands are moving here, indicating the hours and minutes. In rare cases there is also a third hand which still shows the seconds. The thick and short hand indicates the hours that have already passed on a day. The long and thin hand the minutes. The following clock shows that it is 3 a.m. or 3 p.m.

An analog clock actually only runs until 12. The day has 24 hours. Therefore every hour is booked twice. This can also be seen in the graphic above: 0:00 is also 12:00. And 11 o'clock also corresponds to 11 o'clock on the display. A look out of the window shows whether it is really 11 a.m. or 11 p.m.

Watch learning examples

While you can easily read the hours, minutes and, if available, the seconds on the digital clock, reading the analog clock requires some practice. So let's just make a few examples here.

example 1:

What time is it?


The thick hand points to shortly after 4 o'clock or shortly after 4 pm. The long pointer goes to the right, has passed three lines from above. Each line for the long hand means 5 minutes, three lines are 15 minutes. We have 4:15 a.m. or 4:15 p.m. This is also known as a quarter past 4 (even if it's noon).

Example 2:

What time is it?


The large hand has passed 7 o'clock or 7 o'clock. The long pointer goes down, so it has exceeded 6 lines. Each step corresponds to 5 minutes, with 6 lines this is 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 30 minutes. We have 7:30 or 19:30. This is also known as half past eight, as it takes another half an hour to get to eight o'clock (even if it is evening).

Example 3:

What time is it?


The thick hand has passed 10 o'clock or 22 o'clock (but has not yet reached the next line). The long hand has exceeded 9 lines (calculated from 0 or 12 o'clock). Since each line corresponds to 5 minutes, this is 45 minutes. We have 10:45 a.m. or 10:45 p.m. This is also known as a quarter to eleven (even if it is evening), as a quarter of an hour has to pass before it is 11 a.m.

Learn to read the clock tasks or exercises


Watch learning videos

Learn to read the clock video 1

This video explains how to read an analog and a digital clock. Corresponding examples are presented.

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Learning to read the clock: questions and answers

In this section we look at typical questions with answers about learning to read the clock.

Q: Are there any books or software that students can use to learn to read the clock?

A. Yes there is. For example "My big training book for class 2" from Klett-Verlag.

Q: Should I buy my child an analog watch or a digital watch?

A: I recommend using an analog watch as the first watch. This forces children to learn exactly this type of watch. When the kids are older and can safely read an analog watch, then one can still buy a digital watch. Whereby this is often replaced by a cell phone / smartphone.

Q: What other topics should I check out?

A: Here is a list of important basic math topics: