Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Time Flyers

Wayne Mitchell


Can time really fly? Involve your students in finding elapsed time and creating real-world problems using an airline flight schedule.


The student uses schedules, calendars, and elapsed time to solve real-world problems.


-Copy of airline schedule for each child, or group of children
-Pencil for each child
-Piece of notebook paper for each child
-Overhead projector, pen and screen or chalkboard and chalk for displaying examples and non-examples


1. Obtain enough airline schedules to present each child with one.
2. Read the schedule before giving it to the class so you can point out other mathematical ideas listed in its content.
3.Be familiar with elapsed time.


1. Engage students in a discussion about traveling and the amount of time it takes to move from one place to another.

2. After handing out the schedules, encourage the students to compare the lengths of time it takes to complete flights.

3. Show students how to write word situations that deal with elapsed time. For example, “If an airplane leaves Panama City, Florida at 8:50 A.M. and lands in Atlanta, Georgia at 9:35 A.M., how long was the flight?” Another example might be, “If it takes 3 hours 25 minutes to fly from Panama City, Florida to Roanoke, Virginia, what time will the plane land if it leaves Panama City at 11:40 P.M?”

4. Explain to the students that they will be working out real-world problems and comparing elapsed times.

5. Have the students write three elapsed time questions using their schedules and calculate the difference between the arrival and departure times.

6. Now have the students switch papers with a classmate and solve the problems written by the peer, and show all of their work.

7. Once the items have been worked out, have the students return the papers to their owners.

8. Have the owners work out their own word situations.

9. Write three assessment items on the board or overhead, and have the students work these to turn in to you. Have them show all work and assess these items with the attached checklist. (See Associated File)


The students read through the schedule to devise three questions that pertain to the airline schedule to be posed to a classmate. The students answer their classmate's questions and correctly figure the elapsed time. The students also solve the three items posed by the teacher.

Note: The purpose of this activity is to find out where the students’ strengths lie and to find out what help should be offered to those children having difficulty working with elapsed time. This lesson plan does not include any calendars.
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