Elapsed time can be a tricky skill for students to learn! But, with the right strategies they’ll understand it and be able to master it in no time!  Today I’m going to share my two favorite strategies for solving elapsed time problems.  These are elapsed time strategies that my second graders loved and helped them understand and easily solve these problems.  Now, I know the two strategies are very similar but they are laid out differently.  Some of my kids preferred the empty number line visual and some preferred the T-chart.

Quick Tip

When working with elapsed time I like to use word problems.  I know you can give problems with a start and end time or a start time and elapsed time, but I like to use word problems. I find giving it in a story problem format helps kids visualize the problem because there is context.  This then makes the problem easier for them to solve.

Strategy #1 – Empty Number Line

For empty number line, students start with an empty number line. Then, they place the start time at the beginning and end time at the end.  Next, students need to make jumps on the number line to figure out how much time has passed.  I suggest students always start by looking at hours since it is a larger chunk of time and then moving to minutes. Students may make jumps in different ways. For the problem below, some students might add five minutes to get to 8:00 and then make the jump of 42 minutes.  Other students may make jumps in increments of ten or twenty to get to the final time.  There is no “one” right way and what I like about this is students can make jumps that they are comfortable with given their math understanding. Once they have made their jumps they add the hours and minutes together to come up with the total elapsed time. This problem has the end time missing.  Students create the empty number line and put the start time on it.  Then using the elapsed time given – 32 minutes – they make jumps to find the end time.  Students can jump 30 minutes and then 2 minutes. Students can jump 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 minutes, and 2 minutes.  Students could also jump 20 minutes, 10 minutes, and 2 minutes.  Again the number line provides a visual strategy and then students can make jumps depending on their number flexibility and math foundation.

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Grab these FREE Elapsed Time Word Problem Practice pages for your students! These are great for homework, formative assessments, independent practice, and more! Click HERE to get your FREEBIE!

More Elapsed Time Practice

If you are interested in providing your students with some elapsed time word problem practice, check out my two resources below. Elapsed Time Worksheets These worksheets are easy for teachers to use because they are already differentiated!  There are three different levels for each worksheet. I’ve used these as homework, practice, and formative assessments. Elapsed Time Task Cards Task cards are a great addition to math stations, math centers, or math practice time.  These are differentiated with three different sets!  I love using them because you’re able to meet the needs of all of your learners and they are able to all practice the same skill, but at their level.
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