Keep This Next to the Snow Shovel

Published February 26, 2015

You love your kids, right? Of course you do. You always want only the very best for them and never tire of watching them grow and change right before your eyes. You love spending time with them and can’t imagine life without them.

Except…maybe on snow days…

It’s been a tough winter, hasn’t it? Even those with the foresight to live somewhere like Florida have done what seems to be more than their fair share of grumbling about it being unseasonably cold. But, anyone living north of the Sun Belt has likely suffered frigid temperatures and near-record snowfall. The poor folks in Boston have gotten from 70 to 80 inches of snow in just the last two weeks! Jim Cantore, the one guy from the Weather Channel you never want to see in your town, may have done his happy dance about the rare “thundersnow” experience he had down the road in Plymouth, but I’m betting most of the Boston viewers were not amused.

School districts plan for snow. They know that there’s always the possibility that snowfalls may outpace the ability of the public works department to keep the streets clear, but they also have a keen awareness of what happens if no one occupies all of those desks --- they lose government funding. Since that is something to avoid at all cost, there are “extra” days built into each school’s calendar.

So, yes, schools are ready for those days when children can’t make it in. But, are you? It can be fun to have an unexpected “free” day at home with the kids but what happens when that stretches into multiple days? In the Boston area, students haven’t had a full week of classes in the past three weeks. Here at Time Timer, our kids were out all last week except for a partial day on Friday. That’s a lot of time, especially when the weather is too cold for them to spend much of it outside. Boredom is inevitable. And quick! Pretty soon the squabbling and bickering escalate. Even when parents take turns staying home, it can be totally overwhelming.   

There’s no easy way to keep everyone entertained and happy while cooped up together for extended periods. Especially these days when everyone is used to such a fast-paced, something-always-going-on lifestyle. That said, Time Timer has recently added a new product that just might be the answer to your snow day prayers!

We combined our blank 8" timer faces with the activity sheets into the new Visual Schedule Kit. This gives you everything you need to create custom timers for your youngsters to manage their time without you having to constantly be involved. Use them to make several different timer faces so that they can switch from playing games to taking turns on the computer or whatever they like to do. Include breaks for a nap and snack times. Everyone’s family is unique and that’s what makes this product so very useful --- by using the different stickers or markers, you design the timer faces that work best for your family.

To be honest, we didn’t have snow days in mind when we initially developed the concept of the Visual Schedule Kit. We were simply continuing to find ways to enhance our products for children or anyone who responds better to visual cues. But next time you make a list of what you think you’ll need to survive being snowed in for more than a day, you just might want to make sure the Visual Snow Schedule Kit is somewhere near the top.

Tags: visual schedule kit, time timer visual schedule kit, snow days, snow days activities, visual timer

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iPhone App Upgrade Coming Soon!

Published February 17, 2015

Some sayings are so ingrained in popular usage that they have become clichés. One such example is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Not exactly a grammatical gem but there’s a lot to be said for the thought. At least, there used to be. These days, technology changes so quickly that, if you want to keep up, you need to be thinking about the next version almost before coming out with the current one!  

No one does this better than the folks at Apple. The iPhone 6 was on the shelves long before I’d figured out most of the features on my iPhone 5!

The same could be said for the Time Timer iPhone App. It works great, but we’re upgrading it to be consistent and match the functionality of the iPhone 6. Our customers have told us how much they rely on the app, so we’re happy to make the investment to keep it current with the latest technology. Everything that you have come to love about the Time Timer iPhone App will still be there, plus new features to make it even easier and more intuitive to use.

And it looks really cool!

                                     

The upgraded Time Timer iPhone App will be out in the spring. If you already have the current version, you’ll be able to upgrade for free. If you don’t have the app, then be sure and watch for the notice of its release. You may already have a lot of apps on your phone but we’re willing to bet there are none more useful than this one. Easy to use. Versatile. Customizable. A powerful time management system right on your phone.

The fully upgraded Time Timer iPhone App is coming soon! Watch for it! 

Tags: iphone app, time timer iphone app, app upgrade, iphone app upgrade

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Different Agendas for Jimmy and the Mayor

Published February 12, 2015

There’s always a general buzz of excitement on February 2nd. Winters can get long and people look forward to the hope of an early spring. There was a tad more excitement this year in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Mayor Jon Freund leaned in toward Jimmy the Groundhog as if he expected the furry little guy to tell him what to expect instead of simply looking for the telltale shadow. Jimmy promptly bit him on the ear!

The mayor wasn’t seriously injured and the annual early morning tradition continued without further mishaps. No one seemed to know why Jimmy was so cranky but a little research on our part has uncovered a possible motivation. Groundhogs, believe it or not, do not pop out of their cozy burrows early each February to predict the weather. No, they have something else, entirely, on their minds.

“Cranky” appears to be the normal level of interaction, not just between groundhogs and politicians, but each other. This includes those they may eventually have romantic designs upon. So, nature has found a way to set off their internal alarm clocks for early February so they have a little time to be nicer to each other before spring arrives and it’s time to start a family. In fact, it has been said that for groundhogs, February 2nd is actually their Valentine’s Day!

Whether you believe Jimmy, Punxsutawney Phil, Chattanooga Chuck, General Beauregard Lee or any of the other weather prognosticators of the rodent family can actually predict if there’s to be an early spring or not doesn’t really matter. Groundhog Day organizers claim accuracy rates from 75% to 90%. Actual meteorologists will tell you the groundhogs’ forecasts are correct more like between 35% and 40%, but we can’t rule out the possibility of some professional jealousy there. But either way, it’s a fun way to start planning for spring.

What’s really fascinating, though, is the way those in the animal kingdom are wired to know the exact time of year to do something. Like coming out of hibernation. Or, the journey the Monarch butterflies that blanket the trees in Pacific Grove California make every October, some traveling up to 2,000 miles to get there. Many have never been there before so how do they know how to do that?

Scientists have studied hibernation and migratory patterns for a long time. They may not have it all worked out but they do understand those dynamics better than how animals relate to the concept of time, itself, rather than seasons. A fairly recent article in Scientific American outlined how size and metabolism play a large role in how each species experiences time and how it’s really different for a whale and a bird. Sounded like they need a lot more research but the fact that humans take in information nearly five times slower than flies does explain why it’s so hard to swat them!

We may appear to move in slow motion to insects but we do have the advantage of abstract thinking, which has allowed us to make time work for us in ways that the animal kingdom cannot. That’s why Time Timers are so useful to not only teach youngsters the concept of elapsed time but helpful in project management for all ages. You might even say that structuring time is one of the reasons that we remain balanced precariously on the top of the food chain. I guess that means that we can wish the best for Jimmy the Groundhog in his campaign to find a Mrs. Jimmy this spring --- but that Time Timers for pets will not be on the drawing board!

Tags: groundhog bites mayor, animal sense of time, project timer, teaching timer

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