sense of time

March of Time: Helping Kids Develop a Sense of Time

The expression “Time marches on,” is appropriate for ending the month of March and inspires a post on helping kids develop a sense of time.strategic allocation of attention

Although kids will have some ideas about time, it is really very confusing. The light of day and dark of night helps kids figure out day and night, but it isn’t always the same. In the summer, it can stay light until after bedtime, while in the winter, it’s dark before supper. We confuse kids too, when we ask them to wait for a minute and take much longer. Time is always there, but when we are in a hurry, we say we don’t have time. We still have time, but not enough. No wonder time is so tricky for kids—and many adults too.

There are quite a few words connected to time, such as second, minute, hour, day, night, week, month, and year. Even if kids haven’t figured out what these words all mean, it helps if they have heard them. The names of the days of the week take on special meaning if parents have the same day off. Often kids ask if a day is a home-day or a daycare-day.coooking with kids

A few simple activities give experiences with aspects of time. Counting the number of sleeps until there is a special event is one way of helping kids develop a sense of time. They may want to cross off the days on a calendar. Recipes have instructions for the number of minutes something needs to bake. Mix up a batch of cookies and set a timer when you put them in the oven. Clocks that have pictures of the sun or the moon are useful too. If the weather is hot, instead of cookies you might want to make popsicles but that will take more time.

Another fun opportunity using time is the game What Time is it Mr. Wolf. Since a big space is needed for running, it’s better to play this game outside. To play, one person is the wolf. The wolf stands in the middle of the space and the players stand at one end. Kids ask the wolf, “What time is it, Mr. Wolf? The wolf chooses the number of hours, as in 4 o’clock, and calls it out. The players then take 4 steps. If the wolf says 3 o’clock, the kids take 3 steps and so on. The kids get closer and closer until the wolf answers, “It’s lunch time!” The kids run back to the starting point, screaming and giggling.learning about time

The wolf, especially if it’s an adult, can vary the “It’s lunch time!” answer. For instance, it could be “Hug time” or “Tickle time.” Occasionally, you can even use “It’s put away toys time!” or some other chore. What are some other ways and plays for helping kids develop a sense of time?


Learn About Time for Kids: What Time is it Mr. Dinosaur

Dinosaurs lived a very long time ago so let’s use them to learn about time for kids. Developing a sense of time will take lots of time and experiences.

strategic allocation of attentionA sense of time is a challenge for kids although they will have some general ideas. Most of them have figured out the day-night cycle, and day is light while night is dark–unless they live really far up north. It can be quite confusing for kids when we ask them to wait just a minute or hang on a second and the time gap can be much longer than either. We often ask if kids had a good time. When we’re in a hurry, we may very well say we don’t have time. No wonder it’s so complicated.

Nevertheless, kids need to hear the various words for time such as second, minute, hour, day, week, month, and year, even if they don’t understand them. Kids may use some of the words and will likely have a few words for the days of the week and they will often ask how many sleeps until something special. If parents are home on weekends, Saturday and Sunday become favorites.

dinosaur games for kidsA fun game to play for time is What Time is it Mr. Wolf, but since it’s Dinovember, we can change it to What Time is it Mr. Dinosaur. Kids can play this inside, if there is a big, open space or outside. Dinosaurs are too big for houses and even schools.

One person is the dinosaur and stands in the middle while the rest of the kids line up at one end. The kids ask the dinosaur, “What time is it, Mr. Dinosaur? The dinosaur says various times and the kids take that number of steps. For instance, if the dinosaur says 4 o’clock, kids take 4 steps. If the dinosaur says 2 o’clock, the kids take 2 and so on. Until…the dinosaur says “It’s lunch time!” and the kids run back to the start before the dinosaur eats them up. Of course, the dinosaur roars and the kids squeal.

This is a favorite game of kids all around the world. The “It’s lunch time!” surprise can be changed to other times too, like Hugtime, or Tickletime. It could also be “Put away 3 toys time!” to make clean-up lots of fun.

learning about timeThere are special clocks for kids with pictures or faces that change for day and night. These help to learn about time for kids. With the time change on the weekend, how many clocks and other devices were there that needed to be changed at your house? Today, is there time to play?

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers: Number Sense for Kids

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers all help to develop number sense for kids. Seems as if our lives are lived, not by the book, but by the numbers. We rush around looking at the time on the clock, or the date on the calendar.

developing number sense with community activitiesIn North America, the third weekend in May has particular significance. In the US, the third Saturday in May is Armed Forces Day. In Canada, the third Monday in May is Victoria Day, a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday. For each of these countries, we use the date to remind us to connect with traditions, history, and those who give service to others.

What happens in your area on these dates? Will your family be participating in special events? Young children will not yet appreciate the reason for these activities, but they will notice that they are different from other days.

Are there some other dates that are important for your family? Developing both a sense of time and number sense will be challenging for children, easier for some than for others. As parents and caregivers, we can help support kids.

developing number sense Find a date for something exciting for your family, such as a camping trip, visit from someone, play-date, sleep-over or other unusual activity. Mark the date on the calendar and you and your child can count how many sleeps. Mark off each day as the big event gets closer and closer. Count the sleeps together. With meaningful experiences like these, kids will come to understand time and numbers are decreasing.

It’s so obvious to us that as numbers go up, there is more of something and as numbers go down there is less, but it isn’t to kids. They need opportunities to experience this for themselves. Using dates for your community or family is one way to do this. With this being the run up to summer there will be other important dates for celebrating and learning number sense and a sense of time. Maybe this is learning while you sleep?

Nutcrackers Help With Fun, Learning & Kindergarten Readiness

One of the favorite Christmas decorations at our house is a nutcracker matryoshka or nesting toy. These 5 wooden dolls help little ones with fun, learning, and kindergarten readiness. Toys like this help kids with the math skills of sequencing and sizes. (When Little Sister is playing with them, we put the smallest one on … Continue reading Nutcrackers Help With Fun, Learning & Kindergarten Readiness

Kindergarten Readiness – Fall Fun and Learning Activities

A beginning understanding and sense of time may be considered part of a general kindergarten readiness, but time is complicated and confusing, even for some adults! Ever had to wait for 5 minutes that felt like an hour? Telling the time is a skill, but understanding time requires many meaningful experiences. Time has long parts … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Fall Fun and Learning Activities

Kindergarten Readiness – No, no, November

“No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds!” Thomas Hood may have written these lines more than 150 years ago, but he describes the month of November in any year. No, no, no…November. Now that the excitement of Halloween is fading, just like the daylight, ask your child … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – No, no, November

Kindergarten Readiness – Halloween Countdown

Now that our calendars have turned to October, kids from all over the continent are anticipating Halloween. From October 1st to October 31st seems like such an awfully  long time. Speaking of time, time is a really a difficult concept to grasp–and not just for kids, some adults are time-challenged, too. Lots of meaningful experiences … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Halloween Countdown