Time Puzzlers - solving problems with time task cards + printables set

Grade Levels
3rd, 4th
Common Core Standards
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Help build your students’ proficiency with telling time and solving time-based word problems with this set of problem-based task cards and printables. The 32 task cards will provide your students with the necessary practice to build their ability to apply their understanding of time Extend your students’ practice (or assess their level of mastery) with the two included assessment activities. With this set of print-and-go resources, your students will grow stronger in their understanding of telling time and problem solving with time.


Common Core State Standards for Mathematics addressed:
Measurement and Data (3.MD, 4.MD)
• 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. (3.MD.1)
• Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money. (4.MD.2)


• 2 graphic reference sheets
• 32 task cards
• 8 self-checking “answer cards”
• task card answer sheet and key
• 4 assessment activities and key

About the Cards

This set was designed to provide students practice with reading clocks (a skill that is notoriously difficult for some students to master) and to build students’ proficiency with solving a variety of problem types that involve time. There are three problem types used on the cards: starting time unknown, elapsed time unknown, and ending time unknown. Some of the cards feature clocks that students will have to read as part of answering the questions, and there are one-step, two-step, and multi-step problems on the cards. Students will have to read clocks and solve problems that involve five-minute and on-minute intervals. The variety of the problems on the cards will build your students’ flexibility and offer opportunities for your students to make sense of problems and persevere when solving them, the first of the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice.

While the cards feature a variety of problem types, they are structured in a way to more easily allow for differentiation and scaffolded practice:

Cards 1-8: time in five-minute intervals, clocks featured on cards for students to read as part of solving the problem

Cards 9-12: time in five-minute intervals, problems have two-steps

Cards 13-16: time in five-minute intervals, problems given three or more steps

Cards 17-24: time in one-minute intervals, clocks featured on cards for students to read as part of solving the problem

Cards 25-28: time in one-minute intervals, problems have two-steps

Cards 29-32: time in one-minute intervals, problems given three or more steps

Using the Cards

The organization of the problem types allow for differentiation and scaffolded practice. Cards 1-16 all involve problems where time is given and calculated in five-minute increments, and cards 17-32 use time in one-minute increments. Considering this, you could have students who are still building proficiency with time work on cards 1-16 while students who are more proficient with time could work on cards 17-32. Alternately, you might have students who need to practice telling time work on the cards with clocks (cards 1-8 and cards 17-24) while students who are already proficient with reading clocks could work on the cards without clocks.

Since the cards were designed so that each set of four cards (e.g., cards 1-4, cards 17-20) feature similar problem types, you can use this organizational structure to differentiate based on your students’ levels of proficiency with the target concept. Decide which set of four cards you want your students to work with and then:

1) have your students work through all four at a time while you circulate and provide guided support;
2) work through the first card together and then have students use the other three as paired or independent practice.;
3) have your more able students complete the cards on their own while you provide guidance to a small group; or,
4) have students work in pairs to complete the first two and then complete the other two on their own.

Beyond the suggestions above, there are lots of ways in which you can implement the task cards. You can have the students work on them independently, working through the task cards on their own. The students can work on them in pairs or small groups, completing all the task cards in one session. You can use them in centers, having the students complete 6-8 task cards a day over the course of the week. You can even use them as a variation of “problem of the day”, giving each student 1 sheet of 4 cards to glue in their journals and solve, one sheet per day for eight days.

Reinforcing and Assessing Understanding

The printables consist of two graphic reference sheets and four different assessment activities. The first graphic reference sheet is a half-sheet, and it demonstrates how to read an analog clock to tell time to the nearest five minutes and nearest minute. The second reference sheets focuses on interpreting time-based story problems, providing an example of each of the three main types of story problem (start time unknown, elapsed time unknown, and end time unknown) as well as representations of the problems on a number line and as an equation. This reference sheet has a number of open-ended questions about the problems and models, and can be an excellent springboard for a rich mathematical discussions about word problems and representations. Your students can use either the journal inserts as guides while they work on the cards, as well as when they complete other tasks that relate to telling time or solving time-based word problems.

The four provided activity sheets can be used to evaluate student understanding of telling time and solving time-based story problems. The first two assessment activities, A & B, feature problems similar to those on the cards. Assessment activities C & D present the student with a time-based story problem as well as the work and explanation of another student who arrived at the wrong answer. The student is then asked to describe in writing the errors that the hypothetical student made. This pair of activity sheets is also formatted similarly, though the problems and errors on each are different. Since the pairs of assessments are formatted similarly but have different problems, they are ideal for use as pre/post assessments. Besides as assessments, however, the activity sheets could also be given as homework, center assignments, or any other purpose that fits your teaching style or classroom routines.

For more practice with number relationships, please check out the other related resources I have available –

Broken Rulers measure to the nearest inch & half-inch task cards + printables (set a)

Self-Checking Math Riddles – Reasonableness of Sums/Differences

Snow Bonds: +, –, x, ÷ number relationships task cards + printables (set a)

Self-Checking Math Riddles – Rounding to the Nearest 10 and 100

Line 'Em Up reasoning about number lines task cards + printables (set a)

I hope your students enjoy these resources and are able to build their proficiency with time and problem solving. – Dennis McDonald
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Time Puzzlers - solving problems with time task cards + pr
Time Puzzlers - solving problems with time task cards + pr
Time Puzzlers - solving problems with time task cards + pr
Time Puzzlers - solving problems with time task cards + pr