To teach elapsed time to students, teachers must make time matter in the classroom and must discover a strategy that works for all students, such as the mountains, hills and rocks technique. Teachers can make time matter in the classroom by using exact time when speaking instead of offering approximate times.
If a teacher says that lunch is in a half hour, but lunch is really in 21 minutes, the teacher has just given the student an inaccurate representation of time. For students learning elapsed time, this can make the learning process more difficult. Teachers should instead say that lunch is in 21 minutes. When time becomes engrained in the student's days, it will become engrained in their minds. Teachers should also give precise time limits rather than approximate time limits.
The mountains, hills and rocks technique is a technique that can help students learn elapsed time. The best part about this particular strategy is that it can be used for students who already know elapsed time and for those who are struggling with the concept, so it is a great learning tool for all levels. To use the technique, students label mountains as 1 hour, hills as 5-minute increments and rocks as 1-minute increments. Then students create a timeline with these three visual representations to help them solve problems and understand the length of time. It also provides a way for the students to visualize time in their minds.