The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 2 - Page 14

Connecting math concepts to students’ own lives is a way to build background knowledge and make connections to how students can apply math concepts to their lives. Teachers can help children make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001) as they scaffold and support the learning and reading aloud experience (Vygotsky, 1978.

The following math standard for grade 3 from the Common Core Math Standards (2010) addresses elapsed time:

Solve problems involving measurement and estimation.


Tell and write time to the nearest minute and measure time intervals in minutes. Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of time intervals in minutes, e.g., by representing the problem on a number line diagram.

When teaching about elapsed time, several books were used with third-grade students. Using the book Pigs on a Blanket (Axelrod, 1996), students kept track of the elapsed time within the content of the book, following the pigs from home to the beach and all of the interruptions that occurred during the elapsed time between them deciding to go to the beach and then actually arriving at the beach. For instance, they take one hour to get ready, they spend one hour looking for the keys, they had to wait 25 minutes for the train, etc. After the book was read and students followed along with their own clocks to show the elapsed time, the handout shown in Figure 1 was used with students. First, I modeled my own elapsed time from getting up in the morning to getting to work. Then students wrote their own riddle of elapsed time for other students to solve. Students demonstrated an understanding of and a connection to the concept of elapsed time by both listening to the book and doing the follow-up activity that was connected to their own lives.

Figure 1: Text to self-connection to Pigs on a Blanket (Axelrod, 1996)

In addition, the book Scaredy Squirrel (Watt, 2009) was shared with students and the elapsed times of the squirrel’s day before and after his adventure were figured out together on a chart that added the column for elapsed time (Figure 2). After that, students wrote their own elapsed time schedules, demonstrating their understanding of and connection with the concept of elapsed time (Figure 3).



Making Connections to Math Concepts: Elapsed Time

by Kathy Danielson

Rebekah E. Piper

Laurie A. Sharp, Ed.D.

Roberta D. Raymond, Ed.D.

Mary Jo Fresch

Special STEM Section


Special STEM Section