Arielle is going to be home-schooled next year. After visiting the local school and hearing from friends who are teachers, I decided that I'd prefer that she spend her early years learning to love learning.
My husband has a degree in elementary education, so I went through my checklist of the things we plan to learn with him. He said that learning to tell time was a big challenge for many of the children he's taught. Many have never seen a clock that is not digital. I thought about it, and almost all the clocks in our home are digital as well.
So, we are very happy to review the Activity Clock from Plan Toys ($32.99)
This rubber wood toy clock comes with a set of nine activity cards (going to school, sleeping, playing, reading, etc.) that fit on top of the clock so children can match the time with their activities.
Arielle was very curious about the clock, and she was eager to learn to tell time. It took a few days, but she soon understood that the long hand at the twelve means o'clock. She's been having a great time setting the clock to 9:00 at bedtime and to 8:00 when she wakes up. After a few days of getting the idea that our activities correspond to the time of day, we were ready to move on.
We matched the clock up with a workbook My Book of Easy Telling Time: Learning about Hours and Half-Hours ($6.95) and will follow that up with My Book of Telling Time: Learning About Minutes ($6.95).
This is a fairly simple workbook that easily guides children into telling time. As Arielle fills out the information in the workbook, she also has the hands-on-experience of setting the play clock to the appropriate time. As she moves the hands clockwise, she gets the idea of how time passes (the hour hand does not move independently, so minutes must pass to make hours). We also talk about the kinds of activities we do at that particular time. Ten o'clock is usually snack time and that is when Sesame Street is on. Four o'clock is when Daddy comes home from work.
Arielle quickly mastered hours and is moving on to half hours. Telling-time works nicely with introducing fractions as well. Talking about half-past lead to a discussion about "what is half?" and a fun afternoon of chopping up snacks and learning about half-way there.
Summer is a great time to review old skills and pick up new ones in preparation for next year. And the Activity Clock is a fun way to introduce an important concept. It is safe, simple and perfect for a four-year-old. Oompa also carries slightly more complex learning clocks from the Polish company, Bajo. They carry both a manual learning clock ($59.99) and a battery-powered option ($69.99) for telling the actual time. These clocks have rotating number balls that can be used for standard time telling, 24 hours (military-style) time telling, learning Roman numerals and for learning fractions. These are nice for children who already understand the basics of telling time, and the battery-powered option could be used as learning-decor for a play room or class room.
Thank you, Oompa.