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Interactive Telling Time Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on February 6th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Interactive Telling Time is an excellent universal app that will help children practice their time-telling abilities.

In writing reviews for GiggleApps, I have had the chance to check out a few educational apps that teach one how to tell time. I am happy to introduce this app to readers as another stand-out within this category as an app that will certainly help kids learn and study this concept.

Five interactive sections are included as well as a section dedicated to the explanation of telling time, each thoughtfully allowing children to practice their clock-reading skills.

Set the Time in an activity which allows children to move the hands of a large clock to correspond with a digitally displayed time. I appreciate how clearly the hours and minutes of the main teaching clock used here are shown with bolder, red numbers marking every five minutes as well. Both the minute and hour hands can be moved on their own with the correct corresponding clockwise movements of the hour hand as the minute hand moves, with an option for the hour hand to be fixed, only allowing the minute hand to turn as well.

Another wonderful element of this section is the window used, as night and day can be seen transitioning slowly or quickly as the minute or hour hands turn.

Narration is also included, saying the time after each change is made with the movement of either hand of this clock. This narration makes it easy for those new to time telling to use these cues to set the clock at the correct time, with a Solve button to press to tap when a final answer is entered.

What Time Is It? features the same elements found in Set the Time, but here, the time on the clock and window images are set, asking children to scroll through the hour and minutes found on a digital display to create a time that matches the analogue clock much like the way one sets an alarm on the iPhone.

Here, narration is provided only at the end when the time has been correctly entered, including the time as well as praise for a job well done.

Play Puzzle! consists of nine clock faces that each becomes a puzzle when tapped. These clocks include many cute novelty choices including flowers, train or moon themes as well as a lion and fish.

It is especially nice that the pieces included that children must add to these clocks puzzles vary. Sometimes the clock contains 12 numbers classically seen, but options include clocks that just mark the 12, 3, 6, and 9, as well as a gears clock with no numbers at all, including only the hands and center piece as parts to put back into the clock.

Roman numerals are also touched upon here in a fun clock of The Seven Wonders, giving kids a nice overview of the kinds of clocks they may encounter in real life.

Take the Quiz tests children on what they have learned as a specific time needs to be matched to one of four clocks, and there is also a Stop Watch section that asks children to stop the clock with a tap when the time matches a specific time given. Five speeds are offered, making this section as difficult or easy as the child who is playing needs to be challenged.

A Learn the Clock section is also included, consisting of written instructions that adults need to read to children about how to tell time, nicely broken up into seven short pages of information.

Although well-written and including some nice interactive elements as well, it would be an added benefit if narration were included so that non-readers could explore this section on their own.

I did notice that within this app, the terms “quarter past,” “half past” and “quarter to” are focused on, as here, one would say “quarter to four” for 3:45 - different from my way of speaking, which would read this as “three forty-five” for both analogue and digital clocks alike.

As this was developed by an Australian company, I am unsure if this is a cultural difference, a choice of style thought of as an easier way to teach children how to tell time, or if I am the one who has been wrong all these years. Although an issue for me, this may not be of concern for children new to learning to tell time in general.

One of the best parts of this app is that each of the different clocks found in the puzzle section can be chosen as the clock found within these interactive sections, letting children practice their new-found clock reading skills on a variety of clock faces - excellent for children who have interests in a specific subject like trains or space, but which also serves to give children the chance to learn telling time on clocks that don’t always have the numbers showing.

I personally don’t like clocks without all the numbers, but the ability to be comfortable looking at a clock like this with confidence is a great skill to teach children.

Parents please note that there is a nice selection of choices one has at their disposal to create a personalized experience. Multiple languages are included as is the chance to learn military time by choosing the 24 hour clock mode of this app.

AM and PM can also be focused on, as children may also need to turn the hands of the clock fully around to change the time of day or night as seen out the window, a nice inclusion not see in other apps like this.

There are also five levels of difficulty ranging from just learning about one hour intervals, to increasing the difficulty to 30, and ultimately to one minute intervals as well. Statistics involving the right and wrong answers made while using this app are also made available to parents.

One of the first things I noticed when looking at this app is how bright and cheerful everything found within this app is - from the clocks themselves to the striped wallpaper hung on the wall behind the clock in question, added to simply brighten up the background.

Two song selections are also available, both very easy to listen to for long periods of time, especially the jazzy second choice that I really enjoy. Turning off the music completely is also an option.

My only note is that the aquarium found on the title page along with the settings and clock-change feature and used as an incentive to continue with the use of this app can easily be overlooked as there is no link to this area from the page of interactive sections that children will be spending the majority of their time on.

Having made this minor point, I think that this is another excellent app for learning how to tell time.

It it is also worth noting that this developer, GiggleUp, has also created a few nice puzzle apps available through iTunes, two of which have also been reviewed at GiggleApps. Please search for these reviews if interested.

Fun Clock - Learn to Tell Time Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on January 27th, 2012
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Fun Clock - Learn to Tell Time, is a universal app that teaches the concept of telling time, and is one of the best, most comprehensive app of its kind.

I greatly appreciate how this app includes not only interactive activities but also a narrative section in which the theory of telling time is very well explained - something not seen in other apps.

Here, the main character of this application, Jonathan, a learned flamingo, asks another flamingo named Bob, who is dressed hip-hop style and wearing a clock around his neck what time it is. Bob confesses that he actually does not know how to read his clock. Jonathan explains all that there is to know about telling time in a way that is most thorough while maintaining a light, conversational tone.

I like how this video does not assume any knowledge of clocks, hour or minute hands, making the character of Bob green to this new experience as well, allowing Bob to ask questions I am sure children will be thinking.

At times Bob becomes confused and asks for clarification from Jonathan, a thoughtful, empathetic teacher who understands how telling time may seem difficult at first, as this app tackles the ideas such as 60 minutes in correspondence to twelve hours, and how the hour and minute hands move together to keep proper time, making this story an excellent foundation for the skills that will be touched upon in the other sections of this app.

Having had some experience in reviewing apps about telling time, I have seen applications that are the equivalent of number recognition apps opposed to actually teaching kids how to count, where the names of the hour and minute hands are touched upon, as well as the numbers on the clock, but don’t really explain how to tell time.

There are also clock apps that allow children already experienced in telling time to practice this skill, setting interactive clocks by moving the hands to correlate with a specific time, but these apps serve more as related exercises after being taught the basics of time telling by an adult. Without this previous training, many of these other apps may be of little use.

Few apps actually tackle explaining the true concept of telling time they way this app does.

After watching the included video in Fun Clock - Learn to Tell Time, children will be will well on their way to understanding how to read a analogue clock. As a parent, I don’t think I could have explained this better myself, also wishing that this video had been around when I was a child.

The only thing that I don’t fully find desirable is how rigid the language used to tell the time is - as here, Jonathan calls 3:30 “half past 3:00,” correcting Bob and his “30 minutes past 3:00” whereas I would call this “3:30," when reading this time off a analogue as well as digital clock. It would be nice if different ways of expressing the same time were equally looked upon as accurate, as there is a moment where Jonathan acknowledges Bob's alternative way of saying this specific time but really poo-poos this other way of expression, unfortunate as they way I read time out loud is very different from the way taught here.

This is an issue I have throughout this app, as 4:40 is called “20 minutes to 5,” 12:07 is “7 minutes past 12,” 3:59 “is one minute to 4,” and the terms “quarter past” or “quarter to” are preferred over 5:45 and 5:15. I do wonder if this is a cultural difference I am not aware of as this app offered in both English and Chinese, is not a specifically America app. Although these semantical difference surprised me, it is possible children may find this an easier way if reading and expressing time.

It is nice that digital clocks are also briefly touched upon as well, but at the end of the included video, a military clock using the 24 hour style is introduced when discussing digital clocks. It is explained how 8:00 can also be expressed as 20:00 in the evening, but the 24 hour clock is not thoroughly introduced, leaving kids possibly confused.

Even with these issues, this video-like element for telling time is the best I have seen in terms of really teaching this subject.

Five interactive sections are also included with elements I have not seen before in other clock apps.

First, players are asked to drag the numbers and hands to the correct positions of a clock that had broken, allowing all these pieces to fall to the page and bounce about with the use of a physics engine.

When a number is put in the correct position, this number becomes a part of the clock again, complete with a satisfying sound effect and Jonathan narrating this correct number as an amount of time.

After this clock is complete, players get to move the hands about, hearing the times they have created narrated, allowing kids to decode the time-telling concepts for themselves as they listen to narration and move the hands on their own.

In the Second section, one is able to set the clock for specific times, here dealing with hours and half pasts. Here, the clock is filled in except for empty number holes that correlate to a time either on an hour or half past, and the hands point to 12:00 as a default.

On the bottom of the screen are these numbers that have fallen out of their positions, and it is especially nice that the hour hand and ball used are red where as the minute hand and ball are purple. When these balls are placed correctly, the hands move accordingly.

After fixing the clock, one must match one of three clocks with the corresponding time narrated, as these times are departure times for buses - often with animal-named destinations, such as “Gooseville” or “Los Flamingos.”

This format of clock fixing and bus departure times continues as one learns about quarter to and quarter past as well.

Five and One minutes are taught much in the same way, as one fills in the clock, but here more details are found on the clock, with the five seconds now denoted, and there are three spaces open with only two balls that will ultimately tell the hour and minute hands to turn, making this section more challenging.

It is nice that if chosen, a digital clock can also be looked at as a reference to the time needed to be set amongst these sections, and a large “go back” arrow can be easily tapped if one wants to hear Jonathan narrate instructions over again.

These games can be accessed on their own after becoming unlocked with the previous section being completed, or one after the other if one would like to work through all these lessons at once.

Star achievements can also be earned for correct answers, and after this app is complete, players have earned a personalized certificate for job well done.

Finally, after completing this app, a certificate of learning how to tell time is unlocked for the player, which can be saved as a photo to email later to friends or just to save for posterity.

This is a wonderful app for iPad that will teach children how to tell time.

From a concise and well written explanation on telling time to engaging interactive activities, this application is defiantly a go-to app for those looking to teach children this important skill.

I remember learning how to tell time being difficult to master, partially I am sure as my parents did not have a good handle on the best way of explaining this tricky subject.

Parents no longer need to feel at a loss as to how to help their children. Just let Jonathan explain what he needs to and allow children to explore the interactive sections of this application.

Hickory Dickory Dock Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on October 21st, 2011
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Hickory Dickory Dock is a creative and fun app that teaches number recognition for 1-12 and introduces the concept of how to tell time, specifically the different hours and their positions on the clock, as well as expanding on the classic nursery rhyme, Hickory Dickory Dock.

I really enjoy the look of the app, as its focus here is on an ornate father clock, complete with a curious mouse who goes on many adventures within this app.

In the recent past, many apps have included 3-D images as part of their applications. Although this app does not specifically offer a 3-D experience, I think the beginning moment as one opens the frosted glass face of the grandfather clock is quite remarkable. The first time I started this app I actually ducked, thinking this glass door, surely with sharp edges and corners, was swinging in my direction. This effect is heightened as there is a subtle but very effective reflection to be seen in this glass as the door is swung, and the detailing of this glass is impressive as well. This is only the first second of the app, however, but what is found inside has am equally great look as well.

Once inside, the surface surrounding of the face of this clock is reminiscent of Victorian flocked velvet wallpaper - here with a soft gold hue and subtle gleam, along with an extensive set of gears that are seen working as the hours change in this clock, and mildly distressed wood grain can be seen on this clock's perimeter, all of which gives this period grandfather clock a nice texture that adds character to this app that I greatly appreciate and that will make steam punk fans smile.

As this app opens and the player taps “go,” one can either choose a number on his own by moving the smaller, hour hand, styled here as a hand itself, to the number of one’s choosing, or allow the app to start understandably with the number “1.” This is where it gets interesting, as each number chosen starts a chain of events that leads to a new and different interactive experience. First, the gears start to move, made all the more realistic by the creaking and cranking of these gears doing their thing and the hands spinning around until they stop at the correct number in question.

The splendid theme of this app is also played - an expanded version of Hickory Dickory Dock, different for each separate number and action that this mouse explores. I find this song delightfully catchy, encouraging me to sing along, with a thick British Accent even, something I usually do not do. Luckily the words are offered at the top of the page, making this easier for those who like to follow along. Although not related, I can only think of the “oompa-loompas” theme song from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as another tune that is as witty, catchy, begging to be sung, and which can be listened to multiple times within one activity, thus maintaining the quirkiness from start to finish.

The screen is now complete with an interaction that will engage any child, especially those who are fascinated with mechanical objects as this app incorporates levers and springs, a scale, and other elements that mesh low tech elements with a sophisticated physics engine. Players can see the set-up here, but to fully engage the interaction offered, one must move the hour hand to the flashing number in question, encouraging kids to work with the hand of this clock, setting the time in hours and beginning to learn about the concept of telling time as an adult encourages the child to rotate the hand in a clockwise motion. Other skills are learned here as well, as one must use weights to lower and raise the arm of a scale in order to feed the mouse who lives in this clock. Help the mouse clean up after a dust explosion with this clock, assist in the mouse dancing, bounce into objects such as bells, and bathe him or feed him fruit. Twelve different interactions are offered here, each interesting and unique and oftentimes with a good use of gravity and physics.

My son does love this classic nursery rhyme of Hickory Dickory Dock. He enjoys singing this song as we wait on line to pay while out and about. Embarrassing yes, but it beats the alternative of a meltdown. I knew my son would have a lot of fun with this app based on the music, and I was right. My boy also likes to look at and explore all the interactions offered here, as the inner workings of the clock and the mechanical nature of these interactions are quite intriguing, but my son does enjoy the numbers that are goal-oriented more, as he once asked me when one of these mini-activities would end, expecting some sort of grand conclusion that never came. Having said this, my son does enjoy this app, and I really love its look and included rhymes.

I would like parents to understand that this app is designed to welcome children to the preliminary world of learning about telling time. As with apps focused on number recognition and sequencing without an intent of teaching true mathematics, this app teaches the basics of number recognition and the correct sequence of numbers found on a clock as well as how to move the hour hand to the correct number in relation to the time referred to in the rhyme, not the more advanced concept of truly learning how to read analogue time.

I appreciate this app for what it is, and I know from being exposed to other clock apps that, with noted exceptions, these apps can be rather dry and seem like work, although I am sure more effective that the method of learning to tell time adults endured as children. Even if one is not focused on telling time just yet, the mechanical nature of this app, the situations this mouse gets himself into, and the fun, memorable music used here will delight children as well as adults.

I do feel that it is a missed opportunity, however, for the included minute-hand to serve no real function, as it spins around the clock multiple times as one moves the hour hand to the correct place on the clock face. I would have rather seen the minute-hand move slowly and in sync with the hour-hand for parents to be able to point out the half hour, quarter past, and so forth and the minute-hand slowly move in time to the movement of the hour-hand. Although not the focus of this app, parents should at least be able to use this application as a tool for more complicated time-telling if they so choose.

Even though my son has no trouble moving the hour-hand to the correct number in question, I do feel that this may be tricky to some as it seems skippy when moving. I would also like to see instructions included as it took me a few minutes to understand how to play this app because it seems like when a number is selected, the clock goes ahead and displays a time not directly chosen, and it may not be clear to some that the activity offered here involves the player moving the hand to the time one has selected. There is also an interaction where this clock breaks, allowing one to see inside to its mechanisms, a very nice moment, but it would be wonderful if these gears found inside were interactive and movable as well, a detail that would be great to include in a future update.

All in all, the wonderful look and details of this app, along with the creative interactions and most memorable rhymes make this app worth looking into, and it is a nice, beginner time-telling app as well.

My First Clock Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on March 8th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

My First Clock is a learning app for iPad that I think would be highly effective in teaching kids how to tell time on an analogue clock. Kids will like interacting with these clocks which are adorned with friendly animal faces that nicely interact with the child who is playing, especially in Set Time and Tell Time Quiz modes.

During Free Play Mode kids are able to move the hands of the clock at will and then tap to hear the time spoken or see the time displayed digitally as well. I really like that the hands of the clock move the way one would expect, as the minute hand moves minute by minute, the hour hand also moves slowly as well, keeping the spacing consistent with an actual time unlike some other clock games I have seen where the two hands move with no relation to each other - more like dials or spinners than hands of a clock. There is also an option for youngest players to explore the clock with the minute hand moving in five minute intervals as well for a simplified introduction to telling time.

As with Free Play Mode, parents can also choose the appropriate difficulty level for their child in Set Time and Tell Time Quiz modes, making this app an excellent teaching tool for both beginners and more experienced players. In Set Time Quiz Mode the player moves the hands to correspond with a given time, made easier with dots holding the spaces of the minutes between each five-minute time slot between 1 and 12, something missing from other time-telling apps. Tell Time Quiz Mode challenges kids to read the time on an analogue clock and select the correct time.

I really appreciate that these exercises are very intuitive and it is fun that these clocks include cute faces that talk to and engage the player. I remember having a hard time learning to tell time and I think this is a skill that could be difficult to teach as well. This app makes learning this skill as simple as possible and I highly recommend it for this reason, as it avoids distracting bells and whistles and has an interface that is very easy to navigate. I will use this app when my son gets old enough to learn how to tell time, knowing that with the use of this easy-to-understand app, he will have an easier time that I did.

U-Ventures: Return to the Cave of Time Review

Posted by Nina Ignaczak on September 28th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Those of us born in the seventies will fondly recall the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book series by Edward Packard, in which fantastical adventure stories hinged upon decision points made by the reader leading to multiple possible plot lines and endngs. If a literary concept was ever ripe for the computer age, this was it. And now, the stories are being adapted for the iPhone, together with sounds and special effects- for example, at one decision point the reader is confronted by a blinding sun, and upon turning the page is exposed to a bright white screen. Little clever tricks like this certainly leverage the technology to create a rich experience.

One cannot go back and make the opposite decision, as in the book version, which locks the reader into the story in a way the book version did not. I had a lot of fun reading the story to my four-year old and making decisions together. In the debate over e-readers versus print books, I would venture to say Choose Your Own Adventure Books are inherently structured for the digital age. I hope additional stories are released soon!

Jungle Time Review

Posted by Nina Ignaczak on July 26th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

This simple but effective app for teaching your child to tell time is a gem. The first mode, "Tell Time", features an analog clock with a jungle animal face in the center, and asks the child to tell the time by converting to digital. If the child answers wrong, the animal's eyes droop and it emits a sad, whimpering animal sound; if the child answers correctly, the animal's eyes widen and it emits a joyous bray. A shake of the iPhone will generate the next problem.

Five levels of increasing difficulty are available, setting time problems in intervals of one hour, thirty minutes, fifteen minutes, five minutes, and one minute. A second "Set Time" mode challenges the child to set the time on the analog clock to a given digital time.

Settings include the ability to change animals; lion, tiger, elephant, hippo, and panda are among the available options. A "Learn" mode includes an interactive tutorial on time-telling. Pre-readers will need parental help with this function. "Score" mode keeps track of the child's score, and also includes other setting preferences for level of difficulty and sound.

The app was tested on ages five and up; my four-year old is still learning to tell time and found it challenging but fun. Highly recommended.