Clock Time

play with a working clock and learn to tell the time

This is my software version of the traditional paper clock. It is what I would use to teach somebody about the clock. It wasn't ready when my children were learning, but I used their feedback in developing it.

Start simple, then turn on more options, in different combinations. Before going in depth with this gadget, you can build additional mental associations for the day's hours by using the Sky Clock gadget in a simple configuration (most options off).

When you turn on "auto" and maximize the window, you get a working "desk clock".

While this clock does things that a paper clock can't, I wouldn't say it's a complete replacement for it. Sure, it's smarter, but I'd still recommend making one with your own hands. Combine the fun of creating something — the paper clock — with the fun of discovering connections using the Clock Time gadget. :)

cris p

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The fully functional analog clock is accompanied by a digital one. Use the mouse to move the hands on the analog clock and change the time, which can be read on the synchronized digital clock.

The different clock hands are coordinated: moving one causes the others to move by a proportional amount.

Learning is supported by visual clues: coordinated colors, numbers, positions, quantities.

Different configurations are possible, ranging from very simple to somewhat loaded. At different stages of learning, different sets of options should be enabled. For instance, begin by disabling everything but the hours; later add one of "sweeps" or "shadows" (see below), then minutes.


Red is always used in relation with seconds; blue is for minutes and green for hours.
There are up to three occurrences of the number for the current second. Find them.
  1. the fixed clock numbers
  2. digital clock
  3. the shadow numbers
The same for current minute and current hour.
The seconds, minutes, and hours are tracked by highlighted dots, shadow numbers, and sweeps, to provide different associations for the clock hand positions.
When the minutes hand is on 15, 30, 45, or 60: the one-quarter, one-half, three-quarter, or exact hour condition is highlighted on the clock dial; also displayed in a box.
Check-boxes control what is displayed and how the gadget behaves.


Circular arcs of the matching color show the "quantity" of seconds, minutes, and hours. Circular sectors highlight the fraction of the next second, minute, and hour, that has passed.
Shadow numbers follow the clock hands, to make it easy to see the current time.
hours, minutes, seconds
Either can be enabled or disabled. When one of them is disabled, none of the associated elements are displayed — this is a way to make the workspace less cluttered, less distracting.
When this is checked, the clocks keep updating to show the current time. Turn on the seconds to see that hand moving. (The others move, too, but slowly.)
Certain combinations of options are less useful (e.g., only hours and seconds) or clutter the workspace too much; these are prevented when "assisted" is on. Turn it off to allow full option control.

Dig Deeper

How do the rotation speeds of the different clock hands compare?

Seconds is 60 times faster than minutes and 720 times faster than hours.

Minutes is 12 times faster than hours.

When only "hours" are enabled, why is the highlighted (green) number "6" when the hours hand is very close to the left of "6", but "5" when at the same distance, but to the right?

The clock hands, including hours, have a preferred (normal) direction of rotation — the only one on actual clocks:
  the tip moving from right to left at the bottom and left to right at the top.

We call this the clockwise direction of rotation.

What things in this gadget indicate the clockwise direction?

- The obvious one: the numbers being ordered from 1 to 12, and from 0 to 60

- The sweep ranges — where they begin and end

- The highlighting of hour numbers and of minute/second dots

Why is the clockwise direction not the opposite one?

There is nothing special about the clockwise direction — the opposite one would have worked just the same. (Correct me if I'm wrong. Seriously.)

And we would ask the same question if it were the opposite one.

But we could ask: was there a reason for this choice, or it's just arbitrary? I don't think we have an answer to this one.

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