Sand Timer (3 Minutes)



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This quaint Sand Timer is evokative of a simpler time when moments were allowed to pass naturally like grains of sand falling through an hourglass (rather than our lives being over-scheduled by our endlessly beeping smart phones!).   

The tiny Timer is aesthetically beautiful - with natural wood framing the glass casing half-filled with white sand. 

I use the Sand Timer as a prop for 'Walking the Line' exercises in my Pre-school. In this exercise the child takes careful, heel-to-toe steps along a predetermined line (such as the edge of a mat, or on a line drawn or taped to the floor). We use various props to increase the challenge of the task and to create a 'point of interest' to make it a fun and engaging exercise for the child. The Sand Timer is a great example of a Walking the Line prop - the child flips it over at the start of his/her walk and then watches as the grains of sand fall during the walk. It makes the experience more challenging as the child's eyes are focused on something other than his/her feet (so it is therefore an advanced stage, not an introductory level, for this exercise). It also helps create a calm, meditative state for the child so that he/she can focus on taking slow, controlled steps rather than starting to rush.  

Sand timers are also useful as a visual representation of a finite period of time. Sometimes there are moments when we simply can't continue following the child's uninterrupted repetitions of activity because there is a transition that needs to be made or an appointment to be kept. If your child, or your class, struggles to accept verbal reminders (such as "we need to go in one minute!" or "one more turn then you need to stop!") then the timer be used as a definitive external reminder - "When the timer runs out it is time to go"! 

I have also used timers to represent a period of time for our 'Silence Game'. This game involves inviting children to create a 'Silence' by ensuring that their voices and bodies make absolutely no sound at all. The period for this game can be defined in a number of ways - for example, I often use my fingers to count out 10 seconds of silence or we switch the lights off at the start of the silence and only turn them back on when the silence is finished. My class has also enjoyed using sand timers for this game - we create a silence for as long as it takes for the timer to run out! This Three Minute Timer would, in my opinion, be too long for a pre-school class to hold a silence as most pre-school age children do not have the self-control to maintain silence for this length of time and it would therefore step into the territory of an artificially 'imposed' silence rather than a fun group project. The 3 Minute Timer could, however, be part of a 'silence' in a primary school classroom or in a home where just a couple of siblings could work together to maintain a special 'silence'.