Time Zones


Time Zones introduces students to the concept of having different times on the clock depending on where you are in the U.S. and the world. Students will discover why this is the case and be able to explain the reasoning correctly.

There are many suggestions listed in the “Options for Lesson” plan that you could take advantage of if you have extra time or want to adjust the lesson plan in some way. One suggestion is to send students home with a note to parents asking for small clocks that no longer work to bring to class.

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What our Time Zones lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Time Zones explores why different places have different times. Students will discover why this is the case and learn to explain the reasoning correctly. The lesson focuses on the United States, but students will become aware of time zones across the world as well. This lesson is for students in 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand.

Options for Lesson

There are many suggestions in the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page that you can add into the lesson if you want to. One suggestion is to send a note to parents prior to the day you plan to teach about time zones and ask them for small clocks that may no longer work. You can use these clocks to display different time zones. You could also extend the activity to include time zones outside the United States. For higher grade levels, introduce additional time zones, the concept of the International Date Line, daylight saving time, and so on. Another idea is to discuss jetlag and explain how traveling to other parts of the country or world can affect a person’s sleep schedule. This could be a great lesson to teach after presenting a lesson on telling time.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page gives you an extra bit of information on what to expect from the lesson or guidance on how to go about teaching it to students. The paragraph mentions that the goal with this lesson is for students to recognize what time zones are and what that means for telling time for two different places. Use the blank lines to write down ideas or thoughts you have as you prepare.


U.S. Time Zones

The Time Zones lesson plan contains two pages of content. The first page presents a few scenarios to introduce the concept of different time zones. When some people wake up in the morning, there are people elsewhere in the world getting ready for bed. And when one person eats dinner, another eats breakfast because they are somewhere else on the Earth.

The reason for this phenomenon has to do with Earth’s rotation. Because the Earth rotates on its axis, the sun shines on one part of the planet at a time. Therefore, it cannot be the same time everywhere in the world, or even in the United States for that matter. In total, there are 24 time zones across the world to cover the 24 hours in a day. The U.S. has 6 time zones, including Alaska and Hawaii.

There is a three-hour time difference between states on the east coast and those on the west coast of the United States. If it is 6:00 a.m. in New York, then it is 3:00 a.m. in California. Many people in New York might be getting up and out of bed to start getting ready for the day. Most people in California at this time, however, would still be sleeping in bed. The sun has not yet reached California but is already shining in New York.

How Many Zones

The East Coast has one time zone, and the West Coast has another. Between the two are two more time zones, and both Alaska and Hawaii have their own as well. The sun doesn’t shine on the entire country at one time. Because the Earth rotates a certain way, the sun rises for the East Coast before it does for the West Coast. Therefore, daytime starts at different times throughout the country.

The lesson provides a map of the U.S. that displays in different colors the four continental time zones. It shows what time it would be in each zone, starting with 2:00 a.m. for Hawaii and ending with 7:00 a.m. for the states on the east coast. Moving from east to west, students will see that they have to subtract an hour from the current time. From west to east, they would instead add an hour.

Students will then look at four clocks that represent the major time zones of the United States: Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern. A student in Oregon might be eating lunch while someone in Ohio just finished the school day. Because there are 24 different time zones across the world, it is already the next day in some places!


The Time Zones lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one of these handouts helps reinforce students’ understanding of the concepts in the lesson. Use the guidelines on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet to the class.


For the activity, students will cut out pieces on the worksheets to create different clocks. There are eight sets of small clock hands and big clock hands (arrows), six clocks, and six labels. Next, students will set each clock to correct time based on the six time zones. Then they will match the labels with the right clocks and glue them onto a piece of construction paper in order from earliest to latest.


The practice worksheet requires students to look at a map to solve problems. There are five word problems for them to solve. Students will use the map to figure out how to find the correct times for five zones based on the one given in the word problem.


For the homework assignment, students will review 10 statements or questions and answer them using what they learned in the lesson. Students may need to refer to the map on the content pages that displays the time zones of various states.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The last two pages of the lesson plan document are answer keys for the practice worksheet and the homework assignment. The correct answers are all in red to make it easy to compare them with students’ responses. For the most part, students’ work should reflect the answer keys, but there may be a little variation on some of the questions that are open-ended. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade



State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.7, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.7

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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