Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tick Tock, a learning clock

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.


The Toy Snob said...

I love that clock! I've had my eye on it for awhile and once again, you beat me to it! Do you think my 4 1/2 year old would be ready to learn time telling yet? Who makes the workbooks?

Sara said...

Hey Snobby,
Arielle is about 4 1/2. I think it would totally depend on your child and his attention span and interests. You might start first with timing different activities and helping him get a concept of what time feels like and see if that is interesting to him. You can always try and if not, put it away for 6 months. The workbooks are by Kumon and I found one of them at Target.

The Toy Snob said...

Thanks! We have a couple of the Kumon workbooks actually, the Cutting, Cut & Paste, and the Tracing. He loves them! I've also really liked using the Brainquest Pre-K (they go through elementary- maybe higher) workbook with him. It's divided into different subjects and I like that it's an all-in-one.

I'm considering homeschooling once he hits kindergarten. You'll have to post about how it's going. It just seems like there is so much I want him to learn and I fear that the schools won't teach it in a fun and exciting, hands-on way that I could at home. I want him to love learning and exploring his environment and start to question things and find out himself, rather than be told all the time. It's a tough decision though and my husband and I are on different sides of the fence. Oh well, we still have a year to decide since he won't be five until December.