Check out Engineering Explorers, our newest online resource!

Measuring Classroom Time

by Early Math Counts

Frequently, I see elaborate systems set up in classrooms to help children and teachers measure time.  When my kids were little we told time in “Arthurs”.  For us, that meant that 1 Arthur= 15 minutes, so if Louie asked when we were going to eat dinner, I would say, “In 2 Arthurs” or “in 3 Arthurs”.  We developed this system because time itself made little sense to the boys, but they knew about how long one episode of Arthur lasted.  They could approximate this in their minds because the TV show Arthur meant something to them.

Teachers need systems in their classrooms that measure time so that children can develop concepts of “how long” something is.  It isn’t useful to say to young children, “Today, we are going to play for one hour and then go outside for 45 minutes.”  Smaller increments might make more sense – A 3-Minute Warning, for instance (which may still ambiguous to a lot of young children).

Time Tracker

This clock, The Time Tracker Classroom Timer, was developed to create time systems in the classroom.  There are visual clues to help children know “how long” they have left.  Green means they can keep playing, yellow means that it is time to start slowing down and red means that time is up.  There are number clues that count down the time and sound effects that can be set and learned by the children.

I could see using this clock in many areas of the classroom.  What do you think?

3 Replies to “Measuring Classroom Time”

  1. Over Spring Break I observed a parent tell her child \”in one minute I\’ll play with you\”. Later, she said \”give me a minute…3 minutes and I\’ll play with you\”. Each time, about ten actual minutes would pass. I think the mom eventually went over! Later in the week, I observed a different parent tell her child she had ten more minutes to play and literally 3 minutes later, she told the child it was time to go. Young children don\’t understand time the same way adults understand it, but I think adults can make it even more confusing!

    I like the idea of using various tools in the ECE setting to help children see time pass, and to give them a sense of control over things. Kids like to set their own timers and watch the seconds click by. They like to see the schedule in some kind of visual representation so they can count down how many more circles until pick-up time, for example. I\’ve never seen this specific timer before, but I could see how something like this might be appropriate with young children – something that would engage them in the process of \”seeing\” time pass and measuring time. I especially like the idea of children setting the timer themselves.

    1. I agree that young children should be able to have more control over more aspects of their lives:)
      This company (again, I am not marketing it) makes individual, smaller versions of this times that can be put in different areas (imagine the computer table- and then children can turn it on) or assigned to children so they can measure their own time. I also really like the \”old school\” egg timers, as there is nothing as visual as watching the sand pass through time.

  2. Wow that clock looks great for the classroom! I have been thinking of bring in a kitchen timer because my students seem to to confused with 5 more minutes before clean up. Also the boys are the toughest when it comes to getting them to clean up. They are too busy building their boats, rockets out of LEGOS and are always saying in a bit. I wish there was something I could do to encourage them to clean up when its time to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *