Learning to tell the time with EasyRead Time Teacher

My 7 year old has been learning to tell the time recently. We have used an assortment of methods from games to worksheets, and each activity has helped to compound his learning. The one thing you absolutely have to have when teaching the time though is a good clock.

A good teaching clock is different to a regular clock. It has to be a good size, and the numbers need to be large enough to see if the clock is up on the wall. We need to be able to suss out ‘past’ and ‘to’ very easily and the quarter and half marks are a great help as well.

The EasyRead Time Teacher clock has all of those things, and it really does do its job perfectly. Though we had made a start on time telling here at home, something just wasn’t slotting into place. We were struggling a bit to crack time telling. Within ten minutes of following the EasyRead Time Teacher method of telling the time, both boys were brilliant!

How does it work?

The method used with EasyRead Time Teacher is a three step process.

  1. Read the number at the end of the long hand
  2. Say which side the long hand is pointing to – is it ‘to’ or ‘past’?
  3. Read the number on the end of the short hand

It’s a simple as that, but for more on time teaching methods have a look at EasyRead Time Teacher’s advice page.

There are other products besides the clock available from EasyRead Time Teacher – we have the Past & To Mini Classroom Wall Clock but there are larger versions of these, available in an assortment of colours. The clocks can also be bought in French, Italian and Spanish so they’re perfect for multi-level learning too.

You can also buy matching watches which are a great help as the children can quickly and easily tell the time for themselves – without relying on the digital clock of a mobile phone!

Another time teaching tool from EasyRead Time Teacher is the TwinTime. These are double sided ‘hands on’ learning resources that can help children to learn to tell the time.  A double sided write on wipe off PVC clock card with hands on both sides, one side shows ‘minutes past and to the hour’ and the other side shows ’12 and 24 hour time’.  These can be used to practice setting the time on the clock face and writing the time underneath. We have one of these as well as the clock, and the boys like to challenge one another with quick fire games; one calls out a time and the other has to set the clock correctly as fast as he can!

Overall thoughts

These time teaching clocks and associated tools have helped the boys to really cement their time telling skills. They both now have asked for a watch as before they simply were not interested in learning about time, but with their new knowledge they have a confidence they didn’t have before – and a new skill ticked off the ‘to learn’ list!

The cost of Home Education

We’ve been a home educating family for almost 12 months now and one thing that has surprised me was the varying costs of resources and activities.

Most of the boys’ learning around the core curriculum subjects is done via online resources. For maths, we use Maths-Whizz and for literacy we like Literacy Planet.

These programmes are both subscription based and we do feel they’re worth the money. We have apps and programmes for history, coding, science, geography and also sites that provide just good old educational fun games. One of our favourite general sites for learning via games is Busy Things – it’s linked to the curriculum too which makes my record keeping life a lot easier!

We are fortunate in that home educating families are often offered discounted rates for access to these educational resources, but costs can soon mount up, especially when more than one subscription needs renewing at once.

Another cost is that of outings, classes and travel. We spend a lot more now on fuel for the cars than we used to because many home education classes are up to half an hours drive away. On the plus side, this means we have made new friends all over the local and not-quite-as-local area, and that has been great for the boys.

Aside from these things, I’ve found that we are spending a lot more on food. With three boys in the house I feel like I’m buying food on a daily basis, but that’s just the alternative to paying for school dinners!

I think overall I would say that home education is more costly than sending the boys to school, but not by a huge amount. I think that up and down the country, people need emergency cash for things like unexpected bills rather than expenses like these, and I can’t see us ever having to worry about not being able to meet the costs associated with this lifestyle choice.

Home Education: Maths Whizz Review

The boys have trialled a website called Maths Whizz over the last couple of weeks, as the maths programme they have been using doesn’t seem to be challenging them quite as much as it used to.

Maths Whizz is part of Whizz Education, and have this to say about themselves:

At Whizz Education, we believe that every child deserves a learning experience that caters to their individual needs and pace of learning. That’s why we built Maths-Whizz, our ground-breaking virtual tutoring service.

When they first sign up to Maths Whizz, children take an assessment. My seven year old didn’t like this at all and it was quite a challenge to get him to complete it. I think he works best in short bursts, though you can save and exit the assessment and return to it later so that might be an option for those who feel the same way as my son!

My ten year old had an entirely different view. He was excited to see his score and as he watched a roller coaster of progress at each assessment interval, he had visual encouragement on the screen which spurred him on.

The professor is a constant key figure within the programme, providing encouragement and suggesting targets throughout.

The main dashboard area is the office. Here you can check all your stats and progress, decorate your room, read messages and click through to the shop to spend the coins you earn from answering questions correctly.

As the boys were working through their questions, there were some very funny noises coming from the computer! All the questions are set out in a fun way, and there isn’t a boring looking page in sight. Both children really liked this aspect of Maths Whizz, and I would say they felt a little less like they were ‘working’ because of the layout and presentation of the questions.

Topics are fully explained and examples are given before children are tasked. This gives them the knowledge and the confidence they need to apply that knowledge before they begin.

Something I particularly liked about Maths Whizz was that I could find exactly the topic I wanted to work on with the boys. For parents, the website is really easy to navigate and user friendly. If I can see the boys need to work a little more in a particular area, I can focus on that with them by finding it within the website. Of course, I don’t have to do this really because the programme will track their progress, strengths and areas for improvement anyway.

This was my ten year old’s report card after he completed his initial assessment. As children work through the tasks within Maths Whizz, their report cards will reflect their progress and the children will be able to see how they’re doing. I think this is a great tool for self motivation and I can see how it would be a great incentive to children.

I think we would use this programme if it was the only maths resource we were using for home education. Subscription is at the higher end of the scale, at £149 per year, though there are sibling discounts available and monthly payments are also accepted.

For more information and to access a free trial visit the Maths Whizz website.

Thank you to Whizz Education for allowing the boys to trial their resource.

*Partnered post

Kids in the kitchen: Easter Biscuits

We have been trying to encourage the boys to be a little more self sufficient in the kitchen lately. Now they are seven and ten, there are a few little snacks and even meals they can learn to make for themselves, or with little supervision. I’m sure that sandwiches and salads are a great place to start and they can make those, but my main aim at the moment is to develop their interest in food preparation, so today we’re starting with Easter biscuits.

I have never heard of Easter biscuits before but I found an old recipe book in my Grandma’s kitchen and happened upon this recipe.

The boys were a bit reluctant to join in at first so I invited them to help but then got started by myself. I was really pleased to discover some little helpers appearing in the kitchen shortly afterwards, and we carried on together.

The recipe doesn’t take long at all, which I have found to be a blessing when trying to get these boys to try something new! Once the biscuits were shaped, off they went into the oven to bake.

I think the boys were rather encouraged to help out with this particular recipe since the finished product was a biscuit… not sure if they would be quite so enthusiastic about vegetables! I’ve been having a look around the internet for some little aids, gadgets or equipment that would help them to do more in the kitchen. I was looking for a knife, specifically, which was sharp enough to cut vegetables but not dangerous for children. After much searching I found one via lionshome.co.uk so that’s on it’s way to us now! Saw some cute cookie cutters there too!

Halfway there…

Once the biscuits were part-baked, we needed to eggwash them and finish the cooking for a little longer. The boys were really excited about the prospect of their imminent treat by now, and kept popping back to the oven to peek at their lovely creations.

Finally, the Easter biscuits were done! The boys devoured almost half of them before they were cool, they gave some to Grandma and their brother, I got one and the visiting hairdresser got one too… and then they were gone!

I think it’s safe to say that the Easter biscuits were a hit! We’ll be making them again, and hopefully packaging them up to give as gifts when Easter arrives.

That’s if any make it out of the kitchen without being nibbled!


A trip to Bounce Central, Swinton

One of our favourite places to meet up with other home educating families is at one of the local trampoline parks. Every few weeks we’ll get together with some of the boys’ friends and go during a weekday afternoon. This means it’s pretty quiet apart from a few toddlers, but the little people have their own designated bouncing area anyway, so everyone is happy. Incidentally, if you have a toddler and are local to Bounce Central, they do a great deal during school hours – £5 entry and a meal included… and a parent goes free!

The boys love trampoline parks. They especially love these trips with having the run of the place for the most part, plus I always cave in and treat them to a slush when we go. I find they’re generally quite sensible at places like this. They know the importance of watching safety videos and I’ve probably told them 100 times to take proper care or they’ll end up injured, so they are pretty good. I’ve also seen people wearing a knee sleeve, to give them a little extra support.

Bounce Central isn’t the biggest park we’ve visited, nor the fanciest, but the staff are super friendly and helpful, the cafe serves some decent food and there is ample parking.

Inside the converted unit are interconnecting trampolines, basket ball lanes, air bag and roller blocks, and for toddlers there are soft toys to play with whilst on the trampolines. The only thing I would change really is that I would put a gate at the top of the steps into the trampoline park because every time we’re there there is some toddler or another trying to escape! Parents are generally very vigilant but I think a gate would be a benefit. I would say the same for the stairs up to the cafe.

Bounce Central also do birthday parties, fitness classes, and even glow nights! It’s a reasonably priced way to spend some good quality time together, have fun, and get some exercise. I’d recommend Bounce Central to anyone in the area.

What do you like to do as a family? Do you have a ‘go-to’ activity for spending quality time together?