Time: It’s Child’s Play! - Clocks for Young Children.




Introduction: Time: It’s Child’s Play! - Clocks for Young Children.

I designed and constructed these 24-hr and 7-day clocks to help my four- and five-year-old students start to understand time by making the passing of time more relatable for them. Being young as they are, their minds are not yet able to comprehend hours and minutes and seconds because they just have NOW - time past and future is invisible and children live in a concrete world. Whereas if they can touch it or see it, they can start to grapple with a concept. Enjoy!

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Step 1: Gather Your Weapons of Creativity.

You will need pencils (unless you design the clock-face on your computer, which I recommend), double-sided tape, scissors, craft knife, cutting mat, a ballpoint pen, screwdrivers and a tissue or something similar to clean the glass. If you decide to paint the clock-hand you will also need spray paint or something equally effective.

Step 2: Order Parts

After a lot of searching, I found a day/week clock mechanism at Coastal Tide Clocks - they have a few options, I went with the 724A because it has the longest hand at 3 1/2 inches (measured from the shaft hole to the tip). All of the clock motors on this page can do both 24 hour or 7 day rotations. I installed a 7 day at our family cabin - who cares what time it is?!

Step 3: Find a Suitable Clock.

I found large clocks at Kmart for $10 or so. You don't need anything complicated - as long as you can take it apart. Maybe you already have one laying around!

Step 4: Design Your Clock-face

Now the motor is on its way, you can start on designing the clock-face. I spent hours and hours on mine in Adobe Illustrator and learnt heaps about blending and so on (hence why it took hours as I had no idea before I started!). If you want it to be quick and easy, pick up some number stickers and draw the rest by hand on a piece of white card. I made one 24 hr clock showing day and night and another 7-day clock showing which days are school days and which ones are home days so my students can see if tomorrow is a school day or not.

**Hot tip: Open your clock and measure the diameter of the factory clock-face. Include a black border of 1/2 inch either side of this measurement in your digital design so after you get it printed you can trim it to fit accurately. This was my second attempt because I didn't allow for the overhang of the frame, which protrudes inwards about a 1/4 inch.

Step 5: Get the Clock-face Printed

I emailed mine to a stationery supplies store and they had them ready for me the next day. Be sure to tell them you want it printed at 100% and on fairly inflexible card. I went with the heaviest they had but it was still only around 250gsm and was a bit too flexible to be honest.

Step 6: Open Up Your Clock

Fairly straight forward - remove screws or clips holding the back of the clock into the frame.

Step 7: Remove the 12-hr Motor and Hands.

Usually the motor is held in with clips. The hands pull off with gentle pressure (you might need some pliers if they are stuck). Save the motor for an upcycling clock project - my favourite was repurposing an old-school film can the size of a dinner plate!

Step 8: Prepare Your Clock-face for Installation.

Trim your clock-face to fit snugly into the frame. Cut a hole in the center so the stem of the new motor can fit through (to find the center you could lay the new clock-face into the frame and use a pencil to draw a circle through the hole in the factory clock-face from the back).

Step 9: Optional - Paint the Clock Hand.

I needed to do this on one of my clocks so the hand was visible in the night section of the clock-face. Be sure to spray in a suitable location and wear a mask. I like to spray outside and use some paper to contain the spray-drift somewhat. I chose silver to contrast pretty well with both the day and night colours I used. Leave it to dry. Be sure to recycle your rubbish.

Step 10: Install the Clock-face.

I used double-sided sticky tape to attach the clockface. Spray glue might be better as it would allow you to re-position the card more easily. Be sure to align the midday 12 of the clock-face with the hook on the back of the clock. Lookin' fabulous!

Step 11: Install the New Motor.

The clip placement used for clock motors appear to be generic and my clock motor fitted perfectly into place. Fasten the washer and nut to the front side and slide the hand onto the spindle, pointing to the appropriate time/day.

Step 12: Reassemble the Clock Frame.

**Hot tip: clean the inside of the glass and blow out any dust or trimmings before refitting the frame!

Step 13: Finishing Up.

Select 24-hr or 7-day options on the motor. Install the battery. You can adjust the clock-hand with a ball-point pen (maybe that should be done without the battery in place).

Step 14: All Done!

I was stoked with the results of this idea/project. The kids are interested and starting to make use of the clock to see if it's nearly time to go home!

Did you make one? I'd love to hear how it went - comment below!

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