“Time to get up”, “Time to go to school”. Modern life is ruled by the calendar and the clock. You probably know what the time, day and month is at any moment. The first people didn’t keep track of time though. They hunted and worked during the day and slept at night. They didn’t have a calendar to track days, months and years, or a clock to track minutes and hours.
Sumerians settled in Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, about 3,000 years B.C.E. The Sumerians were the first known people to read, write and keep records. From their clay tablets, we know that they kept a calendar based on the moon. The calendar had 30 days. Each day was divided into 12 periods, which were divided again into 30 parts. Soon, other civilizations developed methods for tracking time.
Fun Facts About Keeping Time for Kids
- One day describes the time it takes for the Earth to make a full rotation on its axis. The Babylonians measured one day from sunrise to sunset.
- The Egyptians built great towers that cast shadows to tell the time. Later, sundials used the sun’s movement to track the passing of time during a day. If the day was cloudy, though, a sundial wouldn’t work.
- For hundreds of years, people used burning candles, dripping water – known as water clocks — or sifting sand to tell time’s passage. People still use sand clocks or hourglasses to keep time.
- In the 14th century, Europeans developed basic clocks with springs and weights. These clocks sounded a bell every hour. Later, clock makers developed the hour and minute hands. These clocks were not very accurate.
- Wristwatches were very popular for women for hundreds of years, while men carried pocket watches. Pocket watches fell out of favor during World War I. Soldiers couldn’t safely reach into their pockets to leisurely get a watch. They needed wristwatches too.
- Today, people still wear wristwatches. Analog clocks have two hands. Digital clocks have only numbers. Most homes have both types of clocks, as well as clocks on the computer and cell phones. Even our cars have clocks.
Keeping Time Vocabulary
- Civilization: settlement of people
- Rotation: Circular movement
- Leisurely: slowly, casually
All About Keeping Time Video for Kids
Here’s the best kids Keeping Time video you can watch right now to learn more about how to read time:
Keeping Time Q&A
Question: Why is time keeping important?
Answer: Keeping time allows people to coordinate schedules and organize daily life. Without it, modern civilization would be chaotic. When would you go to the doctor? How would your soccer team know when to show up for practice?
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