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.

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