Best Apps: Learn to Tell the Time

Learning to tell the time apps

Continuing our series of the best educational apps, we round up our favourite learn to tell the time apps for primary school kids.

Although we adults take it for granted, learning to tell the time is often a challenge for even the brightest kids. While some as young as 4 appear able to read the time on a clock, grappling with the concept of time itself (e.g. what time will it be in 15 minutes?) still flummoxes many KS2 children, long after they’ve grasped their 12 times table.

And it’s hardly surprising, is it? In the words of the late Irish comedian, Dave Allen, in his brilliant 1992 stand up act: “One is five, two is ten, six is half. Because 12 is whole, so six is the half. Seven is 25 to or 35 past”. And that’s before we talk about the 24 hour clock. Confusing, right?

It may be the age of the Apple watch, but for the time being our kids still need to be able to read the time confidently on both an analogue and a digital face by the time they leave primary school.

So here are three of the best tried and tested learn to tell the time apps:

Learn to tell the time app ninja time

Bright Ninja Tells The Time

Best for: Ages 4+ (but later levels more suitable for 6+)

Available on iOS (£2.29). Not available on Android.

Sensei and his sidekick monkey guide children to becoming Time Telling Ninjas through seven levels, each awarding a different coloured karate belt. Each stage teaches elements of the analogue clock i.e. half past, quarter to, minutes past etc. It’s simple to follow, the characters are fun, engaging and encouraging and it has a definite gaming feel to it that kids will love, especially if they’re into ninjas.

Each level consists of an introductory explanation, practice with an interactive clock face with moving hands, and a test. The app allows 5 user profiles for siblings or friends while keeping their progress separate. It does contain standard ninja imagery (samurai swords, martial arts etc.), so one to avoid if that isn’t your thing.

 Learn to tell the time app

Mingoville Fun Clock

Best for: Ages 6-8

Available on iOS (£2.29) and Android

Mixing exercises and tests with story-telling animations explaining how the clock works, and the relationship between analogue and digital clocks, Fun Clock is another popular choice. It has four levels: hours, half hours, quarters and minutes, and starts with the basics of building a clock face. Kids practice moving hands on the interactive face, tilting the device to order the numbers, and have to select the right time to make the bus depart.

It has slightly more of a ‘learning’ feel, unlike the gaming feel of Bright Ninja, but the short animations, colourful graphics and bus game make it engaging for young players and it teaches and reinforces the time telling skills well. There is a built-in speaking interactive clock that kids can use to set the time and test themselves. The games are available in 11 languages, so if you want to embrace your inner Tiger Parent you can make your kids learn the time in Russian.

The free version gives you access only to the build a clock game, introductory animation and speaking clock. One word of warning: there is an in-app purchase option of a suitably hideous branded Mingoville watch, which you may be pestered for incessantly.

 Learn to tell the time apps

Interactive Telling Time

Best for: 6-8 (but has multiple levels and some games suitable from 3+)

Available on iOS (£2.29) and Android (£1.99). 

An award-winning app (although presumably not in the creative name stakes), this offering from Australian educational developers Giggle Up is loaded with features. The basic thread of the app is a series of different interactive clocks, on which kids learn all of the analogue clock basics from hours to minutes to/past, but it also comes with a quick reaction stop-the-clock game, puzzles, quizzes and options to challenge kids to set the time, based on the 24hr clock.

There are animated tutorials to teach younger kids the basics and, slightly randomly, an interactive aquarium which kids are incentivised to fill with various sea creatures by scoring points in the various tests.

Both iOS and Android versions offer a free ‘Lite’ version but the functionality is very limited in comparison to the full version.

Have you read the rest of our best apps series? Read Maths Apps and Coding Apps now.

Tell us – what have we missed? Do you have any of the apps above and what do you think of them?

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