Time Travel


Caitlin Murray Giles


Adults take watches, clocks and the passage of time for granted as a part of our daily lives, but this is exciting stuff for kids just learning how seconds turn into minutes and minutes become hours.

Kids as young as 4 or 5 often express interest in learning basic time concepts, although it isn't until age 7 or 8 that most children master this important skill.

Keep your initial explanation simple. Start with a basic analog clock and explain the difference between the hour and minute hands. Point out that every clock contains the numbers 1 through 12, and the hands always move in the same direction. Focus first on the concept of hours and provide some familiar real-life examples (i.e., story time at the library takes an hour, the car ride to grandma's house takes two hours, etc.). Repeat the same exercise to explain how long a minute is (i.e., we cook our oatmeal in the microwave for one minute, the walk to the park is five minutes long, etc.).

Once you've covered the basics, head out in search of timepieces to put your child's skills to the test. For little ones new to telling time, Chicago is full of interesting opportunities to see time in action. Make Chicago your classroom-this is a great reason to take a tour of the city.

If you aren't inclined to drive all over the city in search of notable timepieces, you can easily apply this same "time tour" concept to your own neighborhood. Keep your eyes open for clocks at banks, parks, train stations and other buildings in your area. Look for more traditional public timepieces and interesting digital displays as well.

Also note the more unconventional ways of marking the passage of time like using a sundial, watching an hourglass or counting the rings on a tree.

Most importantly, be sure to enjoy every minute of this adventure with the little timekeeper in your life.


The Wrigley Building
Located on the north bank of the Chicago River at Michigan Ave., this building is grand in every aspect and detail, including the two-story clock on the South Tower. Each of the four dials measures 19 feet, 7 inches in diameter. The hour hands each measure 6 feet, 4 inches and the minute hands are 9 feet, 2 inches long. This is a sight best appreciated when it is illuminated at night.

Macy's on State Street
The Great Clock at the corner of State and Washington streets is a true Chicago icon, dating back to its installation in November 1897. Marshall Field hoped his Great Clock would attract crowds to his store (turned out to be a good plan). Jutting out from the corner of the building, the ornate and grand timepiece looms large over busy shoppers and passing business people.


The Chicago Board of Trade
Built in 1848, the Chicago Board of Trade Building, 141 W. Jackson Blvd., provides a dramatic endpoint to LaSalle Street. The clock is particularly beautiful at night when it is illuminated and the surrounding sculptures become more visible.


Union Station
Although this clock at 225 S. Canal St. isn't particularly grand or beautiful, it is still fun to watch the hurried commuters and travelers glance up at this timepiece while rushing to catch their trains. Linger a moment and take in the surrounding hustle and bustle.


Wrigley Field
Anyone who has ever watched a game at Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison St., has seen the old-time clock atop the classic scoreboard. This simple clock (just dots, no numbers) is part of the original scoreboard, constructed in 1937.


Kids Eat Chicago

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