We have used audio timers in our preschool classroom for years. The timer will buzz when it’s time to clean up toys or when snack time is over. The timer has been used to help children in sharing toys – if a child wants to play with a toy that another child has, teachers will set the timer and when it goes off, it’s time for the toy to be shared with the other child.
This has all worked well enough, but there is definitely something missing. In the case of an audio timer, the child(ren) have no idea WHEN the time is almost up – they are just waiting to hear the bell/buzzer. What is helpful is for children to have something visual.
During the second half of our school year, we were fortunate enough to get visual timers in all our classrooms. Visual timers are great for helping children begin to get a sense of the “passing of time”. They can SEE how much time is left to play/snack/rest or whatever they are doing. At first, some of the younger children were mesmerized by the visual timer. They would stare and wait for the “red” to run out, (and when it did, they would cheer!!). Once they got used to it, it became a very useful tool for teachers, especially when children needed to “wait” for something to happen. They could watch the passage of time and know when it was getting close to whatever they were waiting for.
To learn more about using visual timers, here is a short clip from the Cooperative Kids Cable TV show hosted by our Parenting Expert Bill Corbett. I had the privilege to be a guest on the show and talk about how we use visual timers in our preschool classroom:
Do you use timers in your preschool classroom? How have you/would you use a visual timer?
Photo Credits: © 2011 Bill Corbett / Cooperative Kids All Rights Reserved