Time as a Concept

Time as a Concept

Background Information

Time can not be defined as just one thing. Some dictionary definitions show as many as 20 different interpretations of time! However, one definition could say something like this:

Time most often refers to a measurable period in which an action or event takes place, but time can also refer to a period, action or event that has a certain quality or characteristic. The study of time and creating tools for measuring it is called horology.

Most living things are born with a biological clock, an internal system that helps the body know hen it is time to grow and change, and also helps shape behavior according to time of day or season of the year. For example, mice and owls are nocturnal animals, active at night and mostly sleeping during the day.

Other animals, such as bats, ground squirrels, and bears, have biological clocks that allow them to hibernate, to lower their body temperatures and slow their pulse rates in the coldest part of the winter Hibernation allows these animals to sleep through the time of year when it would be impossible for them to find enough food to stay alive.

Scientists studying biological clocks have discovered that most humans and many other living beings follow a regular daily rhythm, or cycle, of sleep and wakefulness that corresponds to the earth’s 24-hour rotation. This cycle, called the circadian rhythm, means that most humans feel sleepy at night and less sleepy during the day. Early humans likely followed this time rhythm naturally, sleeping at night and staying active during the day.

Time as a topic for a language arts exercise:

Thinking about time gives the students an opportunity to think about and practice al the ways a word can be sued in the English language. When introducing the topic of time in history, teachers could challenge students with an exercise in language arts. The exercise could start with the statement: time is something that many people refer to every day in many ways.

The challenge of the exercise would be to find five different examples of ways people refer to time, Here are a few possible examples: What times it? Do we have enough time to complete the task? What id people eat in that ancient time? When do we know it’s summertime? Let’s time how long we take to run o that pole!

Activity 1: Thinking About Time

Purpose: To understand more about what time is.

Materials: Whiteboard & marker, Dictionary, World History Journal, and pencils.


Most Montessori teachers present this concept in Year 4.

Invite the students to talk about all the ways they use the word “time”. Write some examples on the whiteboard.

Demonstrate the dictionary and invite the students to find the definition of time. Ask students to read the definitions aloud. With the students, discuss why time has so many definitions, then create a definition that suits most situations.

Define horology and introduce “clock” as a word associated with telling time. Explain that not all clocks are made by humans – most living beings are born with internal clocks. Define and discuss biological clocks, nocturnal behavior, hibernation, and circadian rhythm. Encourage the students to think about why biological clocks do not give most people enough information about time,

Ask the students to use their journals to write a short passage about two of the following: biological clocks, nocturnal behavior, hibernation, circadian rhythm.


* Research and write a short report on the effect of shift work (e.g., sleep during the day and staying up all night) on people.

* Find examples of how biological clocks change the behavior of three different animals.

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?