Jan 16, 2016

Timers: a technology exploration from WonderWorks

Is a minute a long time?

Today's Topic: the technology of timers
--timers of all kinds (sand/hourglass time from board games at my house, electronic timers and analog timers from the dollar store, loaned others from parents, the clock app on our iPad...)

Book:  A minute is a minute / Neasi, Barbara J.

Sadly, I can't find any cover images of this 1988 title online.  Granted, the illustrations are quite dated, BUT they're diverse (racially and there's even a child in a wheelchair playing catch with his dog and a frisbee!) and the book is absolutely PERFECT for this class.  The basic formula for the book is a list of activities that can make a minute seem really long (waiting for your friend) or really short (flying a kite).  After we read the book, in the second class of the day, I set one of the electronic timers for one minute.  Then I asked the kids to predict whether they thought a minute was a long time or a short time.  Once they'd all voted, I pressed start.  That was a verrrrrry long minute, but a perfect demonstration about how long a minute can feel if you're not distracted by something else.

If you can't get your hands on a copy of this gem of a vintage book, try Just a Minute by Yuyi Morales, but you might need to paraphrase it as it's a bit wordy.

The inspiration for this class (or "what I thought kids might do"): Exploring the functionality of timers was actually my own idea and when I tried to search Pinterest for ideas on how to elaborate on that basic concept, I didn't find much.  A few good ideas here, but that's about it.

What the kids actually did: 
1.  tried setting each kind of timer

 2. waited for a tiny little bit

3. Got impatient and creative!  This young explorer tried stacking the egg timers:

These compared the different timers to see which was the fastest:

This student compared his timer to the wall clock:
This one tried putting two timers into a bag and shaking them:
This one just tried chewing on a timer:
This young explorer tried to see how many times she could jump in one minute and then how many times she could twirl in one minute (more than me on both counts!):

One family brought along their travel version of the game Perfection because it has an internal timer. These kids had fun with it!

Adult Challenge of the week:  Ask your child to make predictions (I can jump 40 million times in a minute!) then test them together.

Hindsight Tip:  Turns out that sitting around and waiting for ANY amount of time to pass does not hold the attention span of 3-4 year olds very well.  The elecronic timers, with their beeping and their ability to set them for about 5 seconds were the most popular.  If you have the resources, get more of those than the other kinds.

 Variations to try: 
--Try finding some "minute to win it" games and play those while setting the timer for each round.
--Try making a DIY hourglass
--See if you can find some of these "liquid timers" or similar products for something a little different.

Related Apps:  Use the clock app!  The stopwatch function is an especially nice variant.

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