Appointment Clock Buddies: Make an Appointment for Learning!

If you’re looking for a fun way to form partners for cooperative learning lessons, try the Appointment Clock Buddies strategy. The activity is a terrific icebreaker that also serves another useful purpose. Within just a few minutes, each of your students will have four unique partners lined up for future activities!

Here’s how it works. First, students make “appointments” with four different classmates to become a clock buddies, or partners, for future lessons. To keep track of these appointments, students record them on their Appointment Clock Buddies printables. Kids love this part of the activity because they’re moving around the room, meeting their classmates, and choosing partners for future lessons.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! When you need your students to pair up for an activity, ask them to take out their Appointment Clocks. Then announce one of the four designated appointment times, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00 or 12:00. Their partner for the activity is the student whose name is in that time slot!

To get started with Appointment Clock Buddies, download the free printables and choose the format you prefer. Then follow my step-by-step directions to guide your students through the activity. Be sure to read the management tip at the end to avoid making the newbie mistake that I made!

Appointment Clock Buddies Activity Directions

  1. Give each student a copy of the Appointment Clock Buddies printable and ask everyone to write their name and the date at the top. If you have an uneven number of students or if someone is absent, write your own name at the top of one printable and take part in the activity.
  2. Tell your students that they are going to make “appointments” to become partners with four of their classmates. They will meet with each partner sometime during the next week or two. Each appointment must be made with a different classmate, and all four appointments will be recorded in one of the time slots on the  printable. Explain that these time slots aren’t the actual meeting times; they’re just labels to identify the time slots.
  3. To start the activity, ask everyone to take the printable and a pencil with them as they walk quietly around the room.
  4. After 10 or 15 seconds, give a signal (clap, chimes, buzzer, bell, etc.) and ask your students to “freeze.”
  5. Ask everyone to pair up with someone who is near them. When everyone has a partner, ask them to write their own names in the 3 o’clock time slot on their partner’s paper. Important! Do a quick check to make sure that everyone’s paper has their partner’s name written in the 3 o’clock time slot.
  6. Ask your students to begin moving around the room again. Stop them after 10 or 15 seconds and ask them to find a new partner. Ask everyone to write their name in the 6 o’clock time slot on their partner’s paper. Have them hold up their papers to show you that the first two time slots are filled.
  7. Repeat these steps and ask your students to find a third partner. Ask them to wait until everyone has a partner and then write their names in the 9 o’clock time slot on each other’s papers. You may have to switch a few students to be sure they all have a new partner.
  8. Before the final round of the activity, remind your students that they need to find a classmate who has not already filled out one of their time slots. You might have to help with the final pairings, especially if you have a small class. When everyone has a fourth new partner, have them write their names in the 12 o’clock time slot on each other’s papers.
  9. Finally, ask students to return to their seats and store their Appointment Clock Buddies printables in a safe place because they will need them later. If you’re afraid they will lose their appointment clocks, you may want to collect them and return them later when needed. Another option is scan your student’s completed appointment clocks or photograph them and save them digitally.
  10. The next time you need your students to pair up with a partner for an activity, ask them to take out their appointment clocks. Randomly choose one of the four time slots and announce that your students will be meeting with the partner whose name is in the spot. For example, you might say, “Today you’ll be partners with your 3 o’clock buddy. Please find your buddy, sit together, and wait for more directions.”

Classroom Management Tip: Be sure to guide your students through the activity, step-by-step, and monitor what they are writing on their appointment clocks in each step. The first time I tried this with my 5th graders, I gave them verbal directions and let them move around the room, signing each other’s papers without much direction from me. What a mistake! When I asked them to pair up for an activity later, there was mass confusion because they hadn’t filled out their appointment clocks properly. The next time I did the activity, I guided the class through the activity, step by step, which totally eliminated the problem!

Compass Buddies Variation

When I first shared the Appointment Clock Buddies activity online, a teacher suggested that I create a compass-themed variation. Monica Horn’s students were learning about cardinal and ordinal directions, and if the printable had a compass rose instead of a clock, and directions instead of times, she could tie the activity in with her social studies lesson. I loved her “Compass Buddies” idea and created two printables to go with the activity. One variation has the cardinal directions, and the other has the ordinal directions. If you want to try the Compass Buddies activity with your students, download the free printables and follow the same directions as the Appointment Clock Buddies directions above.