Lesson plan

Just a Minute

Help your students learn how long a minute is with this lesson that shows them how the length of a minute can appear to change depending on the activity, all while putting their time estimation skills to the test.
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Students will understand how long a minute is.

(10 minutes)
  • Tell the students that today they are going to learn how we measure time.
  • Ask students to brainstorm measurements of time.
  • Record their responses on the board. Students might mention words like day, month, year, hour, week, second, minute, decade, and century.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain that the 24 hour day dates back to early Egyptian times.
  • Help students understand that a day is 24 hours, an hour is 60 minutes, and one minute is 60 seconds.
  • Tell students that though we generally think of a minute today as a TV commercial or a common expression, like got a minute?, just a minute!, or in a minute, we often don't actually mean exactly 60 seconds.
  • Ask students if they think they know how long a minute is.
  • Have students place their heads on their desks. Say "Go" and then use a clock, watch, or stopwatch to measure exactly one minute.
  • Tell students that when they think one minute is up, they should quietly raise their hands without looking up.
  • At the end of the activity, identify those students who raised their hands closest to the 60 second mark.
  • Discuss what it felt like, or how long it felt like, with your students.
(20 minutes)
  • Have students repeat the activity in pairs or groups of three.
  • Have each student take several turns and record the results.
  • Tell students to mark down how many actual seconds had passed when each student indicated a minute was up.
  • Ask your students Which student seemed to have the best concept of a minute.
  • To allow students to keep time without using timers, feel free to project an online clock, such as the Industrious Clock.
  • Have the students see how many times they can write their name in one minute.
  • You could also give students the 1 Minute Multiplication worksheet to try to complete in one minute.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to write a couple of statements describing what they learned from the activities about the length of a minute in their math journals. Give students one minute to think of a statement and one minute to write it down.
  • Some students might point out that a minute seems to go quickly some times, like when racing to complete a math facts test, and more slowly at other times, like when standing on one foot.
  • Others might note that they learned that a lot can be accomplished in a minute, and that a minute can be a valuable unit of time.
  • Tell students that on their eighth birthday, they were over 4 million minutes old! Ask students for a couple of their birthdays and figure out exactly how many minutes old they are to show the students how many minutes they have already lived.
  • Enrichment: Have advanced students create a chart of equivalent times in their journal that you discussed earlier in the lesson.
  • Support: For struggling students, prompt their journal entry and give them the equivalent chart to glue into their journal.
(10 minutes)
  • Monitor students to determine who has the idea of a minute and who is still struggling.
  • Read students' journal entries to determine what they have learned about a minute.
(10 minutes)

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