Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TOS Review: Time Timer

We had the opportunity this month to review the Time Timer which is a handy little tool for children with special needs, but has many other applications as well. The Time Timer can be used in education, business, special needs or every day life. Basically it's great for anytime you need to keep track of how much time is spent on a task.

What is so neat about the Time Timer, is that unlike a typical timer, it has a visual element that highlights how much time is left. So rather than just ticking down and ringing when something is done, it slowly fades the red area to white. There is also an optional quiet beep that beeps twice when the time is all done.

With my daughter having Down syndrome, we were interested in utilizing this timer for special needs situations. See, if a child can not yet tell time, the Time Timer can help them to keep track of a segment of time for various purposes. While I was excited to get this product now, I think it would have been even more beneficial for us when Gess was younger, but it still has practical uses for many things.

When Gess was younger we had many frustrating issues in which time was a factor. Before she had a concept of time she used to constantly ask when something was going to happen. If she knew we were going somewhere she would constantly ask when, so we could have set the timer and she would be able to see how long before we left, etc. Maybe that would have kept her from being so aggravated or "buggy" about needing to know when something was going to happen.

I would have also used this to teach her manners. In the past when Gess would ask for something inappropriately we would set a watch for 3 minutes time and tell her to come back in that time to ask again, this time using her manners. Well, she hated wearing a watch and while the beeper helped, I think seeing that 3 minutes tick away would have been wonderful. Still, there are uses for the timer now.

One fun thing is when we cook together. Gess loves helping in the kitchen. Before she used to have to go look at the oven timer to see how long until something was done. Now, she can take the clock to the room where she is playing and visually see the time tick away until the cookies, pizza or whatever we are making is done.

The main thing I have used it for was her reading time. Gess is entered in the Book-It program, where you read for so many minutes a month and get a free pizza coupon if you make your goal. Well, keeping track of her minutes had been a struggle for me. I would set her to reading and go do something else. When I came back, she was not reading anymore and I was trying to figure out just how long she had read before she stopped. It wasn't even that she got tired of reading. If she finished a book, she figured she was done. She did not really understand reading for a set amount of time. The Time Timer has helped her to learn to focus on how long she read, rather than how much.

Now when she reads, I lay out several books and explain that she must read until the timer goes off. If she finishes a book, she must start another one. The timer has really helped her understand the concept of what we are doing in a visual way. When the timer goes off, I can reset it if she wants more time. This has certainly made it much easier for me to keep track of the time.

Another thing I used it for was independent study for school and computer time. I have some educational computer programs that I use for later in the day that help Gess review or learn concepts without supervision. Sometimes, however, I would find she had quit the game before she was supposed to. This timer was the perfect solution for that. Now, I sit the timer on the desk and she knows she has to play or do that particular educational task until the timer goes off. This assures me she is getting the amount of practice that she needs. (You could also use it to make sure they didn't play non-educational games too long.) Here she is playing one of the games with the timer set behind her.

There were a few things that we did not like about the timer, but I suppose some of it couldn't be helped. Well, part of it is that the child can simply adjust the timer themselves if they wanted to end the session sooner. Thankfully for me, Gess only did this to extend the time if she wanted to play or read longer! I just fear one day she will try to speed things up too.

The other problem is that the beeping on the timer is very soft. You can set the timer to either beep or be silent. I understand having a quiet beep is best for children with aversions to louder noises or if you are going to use the timer in an office setting or something like that. However, it was so quiet sometimes neither of us realized the time had expired. I wish it had options for silent, quiet and loud.

Otherwise I found it to be very practical and helpful in many situations. The timer is somewhat expensive, at least on my budget, but sometimes these helps are worth any price if they address a specific need your special child might have. If it fits your budget and your need, it certainly is a handy thing to have around.

The Time Timer comes in three sizes. The 3" timer is $30.00, the 8" timer is $35.00 and the 12" timer is $40.00. I can see the larger timers being beneficial for younger kids, children with vision problems or in a classroom setting. We had the 3" one though and it worked really well for us. It's also really portable. The timer has a solid plastic cover that protects the timer when not in use and doubles as a stand for when it is, so you can toss it in a bag for travel and not have to worry about it.

If you would like to learn more about the Time Timer visit their website or see what others from the TOS Homeschool Crew thought about it.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received a free 3" Time Timer for giving my honest opinion and assessment of this product in my review.

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