Maths KS1 & KS2: How long is a second?

Sabrina learns how to measure a second using one-elephant two-elephant, and finds out that there are 60 seconds in one minute.

The children give examples of things they can do in just one second, such as scoring a goal or snapping their fingers.

They also think of lots of times when seconds are useful in everyday life, like for athletics, to count down to blast off and to time food in a microwave.

Sabrina needs to blend her milkshake for 20 seconds, and the children help her estimate the time by counting elephants.

From BBC Series Round the Clock.

Teacher Notes


Ask children to look at the second hand on the clock and see how fast it goes.

Count together as the second hand goes right round the clock, stopping when it is back at the start.

Children could work in pairs: one child does an activity and the other uses a second timer or counts (perhaps using 'one elephant', 'two elephants') to time how long it takes.

Activities could include jumping up and down ten times, writing your full name, saying the alphabet or running around the playground.


Ask the children to work together and draw on books and experience to find different words and phrases related to time that are not always used accurately e.g. just a second, in a minute, it took hours etc.

Ask children to estimate one minute by counting 'one elephant', 'two elephants' up to sixty.

Now ask them to find another way to estimate a minute. Are there any other words that can be used? What is important?

Children could be asked to work out how many seconds they have lived for.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Maths at KS1 and KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and First and Second Level in Scotland.

More from Round the Clock:

How long is a minute?
How long is five minutes
How long is quarter of an hour?
How long is half an hour?
How long is an hour?
Using clocks and calendars
A song about time