A favorite Marilyn Burns' activity is to see how many stars a child can make in a minute. But making stars can often be difficult for preschoolers. Have them draw lines on a piece of paper. The idea is not to see who can draw the most lines, but to give them a sense of how long it takes for a minute to pass. We suggest not even counting the lines to avoid making this a competition, rather talk about how they felt during the minute that it took to draw the lines.
Make a list with the class of other things that might take a minute to do. Some children may say washing their hands, brushing their teeth, walking in a line to the playground. Time different activities throughout the day to check children's understandings. For example, if someone said, "It takes a minute to sing our morning song," time the song to see if this is accurate. This will likely bring in the concept of two or three minutes.
An hour can seem like an eternity to children. After you have helped them understand a minute, continue with understanding an hour. Set a classroom timer so they feel the passage of time. Does it take an hour for you to do the calendar, sing songs, read a book, and do circle activities? This will help children get a feel for an hour.
Enlist families in your lesson. Send home a note, put it in your weekly newsletter, or post it on your door:
What takes an hour to do?
Families can make a list, Is it preparing dinner, eating, and cleaning up? Is it going to the food store? Could it be riding to a relative's house? Families may not understand that young children do not have a feel for time passage.
One fun note: BEFORE you begin this activity, have children draw a picture of something that takes a minute to do and something that takes an hour to do. Label these pictures. It's fun to look back at initial impressions!
NAEYC - 2.F.04 & 2.F.07
Head Start - X.A.