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Time Tracker Review by Kris Price

Learning Resources, Inc.
380 N. Fairway Drive
Vernon Hills, Illinois 60061

The Time Tracker is a unique item. I have used regular kitchen timers in my homeschool. The wind-up portable timers can be more of a distraction than a help because of the ticking noise. And, of course, the timer on my stove or microwave is not portable! My high-functioning autistic son really benefits when a timer is used because he then has a visual reminder that he is supposed to be working on completing a task within a certain amount of time.

Time Tracker is a light-up, sound-making timer with many uses. Here are some uses listed on the box: "study sessions, practice sessions, projects, tests, speeches, cooking, experiments, reminders, and telephone." The timer is portable,, and the lighted display is separated into three sections: red, yellow, and green. Just like a stoplight, green means "go," yellow means "time is almost up," and red means "time is up." The digital display counts down the time until the buzzer goes off. There is also a volume control for the sound. You can choose from six different buzzer sounds ("Begin!", bell, siren, ticking clock, buzzer and "Time's Up!"), or you can choose not to use any sound at all. Even when it's not being used as a timer, Time Tracker functions as a digital clock, and you can even set it to display military time.

There are two methods of setting the timer--automatic and manual. When using the automatic mode, the parent or child programs the total amount of time and the time is automatically divided into 80% green, 15% yellow, and 5% red. So for a 20-minute session, the green light would be lit for 16 minutes, the yellow for 3 minutes, and the red for 1 minute. The timer can also be set manually, with the parent or child deciding how long each light will remain lit. At any point while the time is ticking down, pressing the Start button will display how much time is left in the currently lit color. The timer can also be paused, which is good for phone calls or bathroom breaks. An adapter is not included, but there is a place to plug one in.

I had a slight problem getting the product to work after adding the four AA batteries. All I needed to do was hit the Reset button, but those instructions were toward the back of the Use & Care Instructions. There is a small bit of time required to learn how to program the product, but the step-by-step directions are clearly written. After you've programmed a few sessions, you'll have it down.

My 12-year-old daughter loves this item! She picks it up, programs in her own times, and gets to work. I like the fact that I can choose whether to use a sound or not. My son would rather just use the lights, but my hearing impaired daughter likes the sound effects of each stage. This is a very versatile timer. Because it is portable, all members of the family can adapt it to their needs. I think this item would make a great time-out tool for younger kids because they would be able to see how much longer they are in time out. The parent could program, using the automatic mode, a set time-out period and have it ready to turn on when needed. Time Tracker retails for $36.95--a bit on the expensive side initially. But because this item can be used in a wide variety of situations, I believe it is a good value in the long run.

Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2006