Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Make Every Moment Count

"Make Every Moment Count"

The Time Timer, invented over twenty years ago by Jan Rogers in response to her four-year-old daughter’s need to see the passage of time in order to understand it, is working today to help a new generation of students, classroom teachers, special educators, and homeschoolers keep track of their time.

Time Timer is different from your ordinary kitchen timer or wall clock by the fact that due to its unique construction, you can actually see the passage of time as the red disk diminishes minute by minute.


Time Timer is an excellent tool for a myriad of uses.

These include:
  • setting time limits for work or practice sessions
  • keeping track of time during testing
  • keeping track of silent reading time
  • keeping track of time during therapy sessions
  • helping students learn to manage their time wisely
  • providing a visual aid for learning about the passage of time
  • helping children monitor their time spent during chores, homework, or play activities
  • and many more practical uses, from timing exercise periods to timing computer use
The timer’s silent functionality (there is no ticking, just a ding when time is up) removes the noise of standard timers, making it ideal for testing situations and students who feel pressured by the ticking of a typical timer.

Its striking visual representation of elapsing time can help even pre-readers be able to self-monitor timed activities.

Its easy-to-use design makes it suitable for most ages.

Here’s how we used the Time Timer in our homeschool over the last month or so:
  • timing silent reading
  • timing Bible devotions
  • timing math or writing exercises
  • placing limits on recreational computer time
  • challenging the kids to beat the timer for quick completion of chores
  • timing “ten minute pick ups” around the house
  • timing how long each older kid was in charge of “mini-mayhem, octopus arms” Baby Boo
  • timing piano practice
  • timing tooth brushing and other nighttime rituals
  • timing brownies and cookies when we were in areas of the house other than the kitchen during baking
  • timing how long each student gets to do their computer work before having to let the next one have a turn
  • “Time Outs” (yes, we did need to do some of those…sigh)
  • limiting Mommy’s blogging time (that was a BIG help for me!)
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Our three most successful uses for this timer were for Bible devotions, math exercises, and silent reading. For example, we started having the kids sit down for ten to fifteen minutes a day while I do my daily Bible reading to do their own personal “devotions” (aside from our separate family devotions) now that the older two Amigos can read.

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I saw an idea over at Mustard Seeds that suggests that you gather various child-level Bible activities (easy reader Bibles, Bible coloring or activity books, books based on character traits, etc.) into a bin, then let them do their “Bible time” while you do yours. The Time Timer gave the kids a visible idea of how long they had left to finish their various chosen activities. It worked quite well, and I think we will be sticking with this addition to our day.
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The second most successful use of the Time Timer was to time the kids’ math work. We were also trying out Math Mammoth during this time and found that the combination of the MM worksheets and the Time Timer was golden. I’d go over the how-to’s of the exercises for each of the kids, then set the timer for a half an hour or so, and let them sit at their school table while I was able to work on other things. Occasionally, Ladybug would ask to add a bit more time, and I always said yes. She never seemed stressed out by the timing aspect (perhaps because we used it as a tool and not as a control), and we are fairly sensitive to the potential stresses of timed exercises since Bubba had issues with math due to getting timed frequently in the public schools before we started homeschooling, so this was a huge plus in our minds.

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Actually, rather than stress her out, having the timer helped her keep her focus very well, and it also helped Cowboy develop his. Ladybug would notice if he was not attending to his work and urge him to get back on task. Because it was “the timer,” and not his sister “telling” him he had to get busy, it worked much better than I expected. I do think if there was a way to choose to make the timer tick audibly if you wanted it to (it is silent), that might have been more helpful for Cowboy’s focus if he was working on his own (he is less likely to look up to check his progress without the auditory reminder of the ticking), but conversely, audible ticking might have disturbed Ladybug (she’s more sensitive to pressure). As it was, we never had any difficulties with the kids finishing their math work completely, as long as we used the timer and they worked together. What a relief!

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The third most successful use of the Time Timer at our house was for silent reading time. I’d let the kids choose level-appropriate books from our “Reading Suitcase” (where all our Bob books and other early leveled readers are kept) or from the Easy Reader shelf, and then I’d set the time for a half an hour (or whatever time we chose that day). Then the Three Amigos would go sit in comfy corners and read until the timer dinged.
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I was free to go about my other business, knowing that the timer was “holding them accountable” and I did not have to constantly check in on them. I became more productive, too!! I kind of wish you could adjust the “time’s up” ding volume to ding a bit louder if you wanted to, since kids who are concentrating in a larger room will not always hear the fairly quiet ding of the Time Timer, but then again, if they forget they are being timed and read more than you planned, well, there is nothing wrong with that, is there?

To be fair, I should mention that several times I used the Time Timer to place limits on my own work time at the computer. If I decided I could spend an hour on the blog, or my other writing, I’d set the timer, and only work for that amount of time. Sure, I have a timer tab on my Google page, but it’s easier to ignore the digital version of the timer. I can’t say why. Something about seeing the red disk of time run out kept me on task better than just checking with my timer tab from time to time. It also gave the kids a tangible manifestation of time to look at if I said, “I need to work for an hour. Find something to do until the hour is up.” It made it easier for them to re-occupy themselves for the remaining time because they could see how much time was left in a very visual way.


The Time Timer comes in a variety of sizes,  ranging from 3” to 12”, to accommodate its many potential uses. It is also available as a watch, an app for the iPod and iPhone, and a software program for your computer, though personally, I thing the actual clock itself is the idea tool (but the watch might be good for an older student like Tex).


Time Timers are $30.00 for a 3” model, $35.00 for the 8” model, and $40.00 for the 12” model (perfect for classroom and group use). The software is $24.00, while the watch is available for $40.00. Orders placed in the United States and those which total over $50 receive free shipping.

I encourage you to check out the Time Timer website and consider whether this might be just what your child needs to help him or her learn to manage their time more effectively…Learning tomake every moment count could make this your child’s best school year ever…I know it has already improved ours.

Click here to see what others on the TOS Crew thought of the Time Timer.


Disclaimer: I received a 3” Time Timer for the purposes of testing it out so I could write this review. What you have read here are our honest and personal experiences with this product. If you have any questions I failed to answer, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.


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