In my classroom, I hung a row of clocks set to the time zones for different cities we study during the year, with the cities' names below. It looked like an airport or a "situation room." This had several positive effects:

  • It concretized the idea of time zones. We could point to the clocks and ask, "What are the people in Paris doing right now? What about the people in Moscow?" Some days I noticed students congregating around the clocks before the bell rang, pointing at them and talking about them.
  • When I did the traditional activity of shining a light at a rotating globe, we could try to set the the sun at its current position and visualize what it looked like from each of the cities.
  • Students began wondering about the cities early in the year and building vocabulary. I found that they had trouble remembering which new places were cities and which were countries. This helps cement certain names as belonging to the category of "city," long before you actually study them.
  • It makes the classroom feel special and important.
You can get black and white analog clocks at Wal-Mart that only cost a few dollars and look very credible. Make sure to hang them out of reach--they break when they fall.
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