Home » Math » Here’s A FREE Elapsed Time Word Problem with a Christmas Twist




Do you love Christmas? It is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. And since my little ones have come along, my joy this time has quadrupled. There is no way not to love it as you see their eyes light up and twinkle like the lights on a tree as all the decorations get pulled out. No way to stay stressed as their laughter and excitement fill the house when they pull out their treasured ornaments.

And you know, there is something about the Christmas season that can make normally boring tasks fun. Add a little picture of Santa, Christmas trees, or snowman and our Ba-humbug mood seems to slip out the window.

Free Santa Word Problem

I’m so excited to offer another FREE real life, elapsed time word problem. Well, I guess it is not real life since we know it is not possible for Santa to deliver toys to every child in the world in one night, but it does get our children using math outside of a worksheet!!!

If you have read any of my posts you know we do a lot of math throughout our day. Much of it is verbal, and my oldest has become great at solving problems in his head. One way we integrate math into our lives daily is through time. He can see the time on the dashboard of our van, and we are constantly talking about what time we will arrive, making predictions about the time we will pull into the driveway, or figuring out how long it will take us to get some place. In our first grade Everyday Math program, we are also learning to use analog clocks to tell time.

Wanting to challenge my little guy, I decided to create a word problem using time and Santa delivering toys. I even included my four-year-old, by just having him draw the time on the analog clocks. Since we had practiced this using This Reading Mama’s playdough clock activity, he was able to keep up.

The Elapsed Time Word Problem

The basis of the problem is to figure out what time Santa arrives in four different states. The students are given a start time, and then how long it took him to deliver toys and travel to the next state. Using have to figure out what time he lands in each state, draw that time on an analog clock, and then glue that clock onto a map….yep some geography too.

Prep Work

  1. Print off Free word problem and map of the United States
  2. Gather up glue and scissors
  3. Glue the map and number line into a math journal and you are set to go.


  1. Start by filling out the number line. Begin with 9:00 and fill in the rest of it using 15-minute increments. Use the number line to figure out what time Santa landed in each state, and then write the name of the state above the time he landed there. For example, above 9:00PM you should write Georgia.
  2. Cut out the clocks, and paste the first one in Georgia. Draw the hands on the clock so that it shows 9:00.
  3. Follow the directions on the word problem. Place a clock in each state mentioned, and use the clues to figure out what time Santa landed there.
  4. Under the clock in California, write how long he stayed there.


Using a Number Line to Help Solve

We know that every child learns differently, yet often times while teaching math we only present our children with one way to learn.

Obviously when teaching elapsed time word problems, using an analog clock is a great help. Children can move the clock hands to help the solve the problems.

This may not work for every child though, so I love the idea of also providing a number line when teaching elapsed time.

We used a number line (there is one provided for you in the FREE printable) and this was amazing for helping my first grader figure out the time. If you use common core standards you know this is required, if not it is still a good visual for any type of learner. I honestly thought this may be confusing for him, but was amazed at how it helped him.

He helped me label the number line using 15 min intervals, and then proceeded to move up the number line as he figured out Santa’s arrival time.

time number line

Used from North Carolina Unpacking 3rd Grade Standards

I can’t say that we normally like working on time! This activity with a little Christmas thrown in made our morning. Numerous times as we worked through the problems, my little guy looked at me and said, “This is fun, Mommy.” Those types of comments make my day!!

I hope you enjoy it with your child or students as much as we did.

You’ve Got This

Need more time activities. Check out a few of these.

telling-time-clip-cards-pinterest           telling time game facebook   cut and paste telling time


Elapsed Time Trouble by Teaching With a Mountain View

Elapsed Time Strategy by Just Another PB&J Day


Get your FREE printable HERE

Get a FREE map printable HERE.













7 thoughts on “Here’s A FREE Elapsed Time Word Problem with a Christmas Twist

  1. I always love your ideas. Pinning this!

    1. rachelpeabody@yahoo.com says:

      Thank you Shelly!

  2. What a great math idea for Christmas! Just what I was looking for.

  3. Erin Vincent says:

    Our son is struggling with elapsed time. This may help, thanks!

    1. rachelpeabody@yahoo.com says:

      It is such a hard topic. I hope he has fun with this activity!

Comments are closed.