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Fifth-Grade Lessons on Time Management

by Debbie McCarson

Time is a valuable asset and should not be squandered. Fifth-grade students are mature enough to understand the concept of time management and can begin to be trusted with managing their own time. By incorporating lessons and activities that address time management, teachers will help students develop life skills required for success.

The Value of Time

Gather play money from board games such as Life or Monopoly or print some of your own design on a copier. Count out $24 for each student. Tell them to imagine they must spend these $24 today or lose it forever. They cannot save the money or carry it over to the next day. Explain that time is like this money. It is valuable and limited and cannot be saved or retrieved once it is gone. It should be protected and managed well. Ask students to account for their twenty-four daily hours as they count the money back to you.

Beat the Clock

Students often feel overwhelmed by an incorrect perception of how long tasks actually take to complete. For example, a student who dislikes math may sit in front of homework for an hour wasting time before he actually gets any work done. Help students gauge how much time they waste procrastinating. Pass out a math worksheet and ask the class how long they think it will take to complete it. Ask them to estimate how many math questions they can answer in two minutes. Write the answers on the board. Set the timer for two minutes. Tell them not to rush, but to work diligently with purpose and without dawdling. After time is up, compare how long it actually took to their estimations. Encourage them to do this at home with chores like making beds or emptying the dishwasher.

Prioritize Time Spent

Have a classroom discussion about priorities. Ask the class as a whole to list their daily priorities. Record them on the board in descending order from most important to least important. Then ask students to individually list all the life roles they have -- for instance, student, dog owner, daughter, baseball player, brother, self. Have them calculate how much time each day is spent on each role and create a pie graph or bar graph to illustrate. Ask them if the amount of time they spend on each role is appropriate according to their priorities. If not, encourage them to discover ways they might be wasting time in each of these roles.

Peer Group Time Comparison

Have students list daily tasks and how long it takes to do each one in ascending order. For instance, brush teeth: 3 minutes; eat breakfast: 10 minutes, walk the dog: 20 minutes. Compare lists with classmates and look for extreme differences in the amount of time it takes to do the same task. For instance, it takes Mary an hour to get dressed for school, and it takes Max 5 minutes. Talk about why such discrepancies exist, and allow students to learn from one another, offering advice on managing their time more effectively. Encourage them to discuss opportunities to fit small tasks into wasted time -- for instance, studying spelling words on the bus on the way home from school or cleaning out a backpack while waiting for a friend to visit.

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