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Calling the family together to eat



Suitable for children: 
Skills this activity improves: 
Child eating dinner

When calling your family together to share a meal talk about when they need to come. Will dinner be ready in five minutes or in half an hour? Talk about what they need to do before they come to eat together. Let them know where the meal will be served.

Dinner will be ready in five minutes. You need to wash your hands and pack away your toys.

Alternative tools

  • Picnic set

Why does this matter?

This helps children to identify that we use numbers to quantify time and that time is a form of measurement.

What does this lead to?

This helps children to develop an understanding that there are different ways we measure and compare objects and that we can use numbers or events in the day to identify when things will occur. This leads to children understanding that time can be linked to an event or recorded using a clock or a calendar.

As children become aware that time helps us to organise how we plan our day they will begin to make predictions about when things will happen and to identify what routines need to occur before the event. As children begin to identify and predict regular routines they are able to follow instruction and to give instructions and information to other people.

Language to use

  • Now, soon
  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Minutes, seconds
  • Stop, start

Useful tips

  1. You might also want to look at the activities Setting the table and Serving the food.
  2. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Countdown the time with a stopwatch or eggtimer.
  2. Set the timer on the oven or microwave.

Variation by age

Birth to two year olds

  • Use different timers to measure how long a turn can be, such as when taking turns on the swing.
  • Time your child’s favourite television program.
  • Play games or sing songs while listening for the beep that tells you when to stop.
  • Read stories together that talk about time, such as night-time, day time or lunchtime.
  • Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle.

Three to five year olds

  • Make eggtimers from sand.
  • Look through the TV guide to map when favourite TV programs are and how long they run for.
  • Make timetables for the day, mapping out when things will happen and how long they will take.
  • Go on a time hunt looking for the different ways that time is recorded in the house.
  • Play “What’s the time Mr Wolf”

Questions to ask

  • What time is it?
  • How long will it take?

Questions to ask

  • How long will it take?
  • Which was faster? Which was slower?
  • What could we use to measure that?

Language to use

  • Soon, later, now, next, wait
  • Day, night, morning, evening, afternoon
  • Dinner time, lunchtime, bath time

Language to use

  • Minute, second, hour