So the news is that we are now official Toad Testers for The Toadstool! Yay! We’ve already bought a few things from this wonderful site so it truly is an honour to be chosen to review toys here. Look out for news on Haba Trix Trax and Haba Tack Zap- not official reviews, but we’ve been playing with them lots!
Our first review for the Toadstool is the Janod Tic Tac Clock– a wonderful resource pack for aiding the teaching of telling the time. The official blurb says that it’s suitable for children as young as 3-4 and features one large ‘teaching clock’ and 20 smaller blank clock faces, on the reverse of which are pictures of different domestic situations- such as brushing your teeth and going to school etc. The whole set comes in a really lovely box with a carry handle and is currently only £16.90.
So what did we think?
Like many teachers, I feel that teaching kids to tell the time can be tricky with some children. Telling the time is a concept that some children find very difficult even beyond the age of seven, but the preschooler has been showing signs of wanting to learn, so I thought… why not? The set itself reminded me of the sets we use at school, with the traditional teacher’s clock with hands and the class set of smaller clocks that the kids can draw hands on to. But I knew I needed to be quite creative with my just turned 4 year old. First I wanted to see what he knew about clocks. So we made our own. We used:
- rocks and stones
- pens to draw numbers
- a clock for reference
We talked about what clocks look like and practised counting around the clock, starting at 1 and going all the way round. Then I asked the preschooler to write numbers 1-12 on each of the rocks we’d collected. This was a fantastic way for me to see how his number writing had come along since we last practised- I was impressed! Next, I asked him to arrange the rocks like a clock, which he did with no help at all. We talked about how all clocks look like this, and even went out into the hall to check.
We used some of the pictures on the reverse of the smaller clocks and placed them by numbers on our home made clock, depending on the time the activity occurs but I realised the preschooler did not really understand this. We also talked about the hands on clocks, and the direction they moved; to practise, we counted around the clock in the correct direction. Toe extend, when the preschooler is a little older, we could count in tens and fives.
Once the preschooler was familiar with the clock, we moved on to the Janod set.
The set comes with a suggested game but I quickly found that the preschooler was a little young to get the most out of the set this way. I decided to invent our own games!
Hickory Dickory Doc
- We took it in turns to be ‘the teacher’ with the big clock
- We sang “Hickory Dickory Doc, the mouse ran up the clock! The clock struck… then I clapped a specific number of times.
- The preschooler moved the hands on the teaching clock to indicate the number of claps
- We sang the time and checked the hands were in the right place
We extended the game:
- I moved the hands on the clock and the preschooler clapped the correct number of times
- The preschooler changed the hands and told me the time so that I could clap the correct number of times.
- We found the pictures that corresponded with the time we’d chosen
The aim of this game was to practise o’clock (and saying o’clock too, rather than just the numbers. There is lots of new language to learn too) and moving the hands on the teaching clock to different times. It was also a great way to get the preschooler to listen and concentrate well. I noted that the preschooler kept forgetting that the big hand always needs to be on the 12 for o’clock, so we moved on to the next game…
Match the times
This was a simple, quick fire game that really helped the preschooler to familiarise himself with the clock. First of all I drew a time on the smaller clocks and asked the preschooler to match it with the big clock. He needed more help remembering the big hand needed to be on 12 but we got there in the end! Next I laid out all the smaller clocks with different times drawn on them and asked the preschooler to match them up with times I created on the big clock. He did this easily- number recognition has always been his strong point! We extended this by making a time on the big clock and the preschooler drawing the time on a smaller clock.
Find the time
Another quick an easy game. I made a time on the big clock and the preschooler found the same time on the smaller clock.
What time do we do…
At this point the preschooler began to question the pictures on the reverse of the smaller clocks, so we talked about them and what they represented. The preschooler was not able to tell me what time we did certain things such as bedtime or dinner time. This told me that his time telling abilities are still very much in their infancy. He can read numbers, but he does not understand times as a concept.
We did, however, talk about the times that we do certain things and the preschooler enjoyed drawing the times on the small clocks. This will be a wonderful activity when he is a little older.
The Janod Tic Tac Clock is a wonderful teaching resource. It is a solid set that will last us for years, and there are so many ways that you can play with it. Teaching the telling of time is notoriously tricky; it needs to be done in small steps, especially for younger children. The preschooler is not ready to move beyond o’clock and probably will not be ready for quite a while; he is also not ready for the intended game the set recommends because he simply does not understand that 5 o’clock is vastly different to 10 o’clock. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t use the set. By exposing him to a clock he can manipulate himself, by talking to him about things we do at certain times, and by asking him to tell me the time and show me the time- all of these things are building solid foundations ready for the day that he is able to move on.
The preschooler loved the small clocks best- drawing the hands and wiping them off again was great fun! And since we used the set he has been noticing clocks wherever we go, asking what the time is and trying to read the clocks himself. He also remembers that the big hand should be on the 12 for o’clock- HOORAY!
We’d definitely recommend the Tic Tac clock for children who are numerically confident and ready to start learning how to tell the time. BUT there is no reason why the set can’t be considered an investment for children who are not quite ready yet. Telling the time is something that comes to us all at different times, and this set will certainly help children to get there when they’re ready.
We were sent the Janod Tic Tac Clock to review; all opinions are my own