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Elapsed Time Student Set (Math Track and Time Pieces) Review by Karen Waide

Johnny’s Key
P.O. Box 501
Trevorton, PA 17881

I remember when my girls were trying to figure out how long they read each week during last year’s summer reading program, and how much trouble they had doing so. It made me realize this was something we haven’t really worked on. The thing is, I wasn’t quite sure how to go about this. I wasn’t even sure what this “skill” or “lesson” was that I needed to teach them. Then I was offered the opportunity to review the Elapsed Time Student Set (with Math Track and Time Pieces) from Johnny’s Key, and I realized this was exactly what we needed.

I received the Math Track, which is a 17 inch by 4 ½ inch, colorful piece of laminated card stock, on which is printed the words Math Track, along with a white line with a start and finish line, and a box in the upper right hand corner to record the answer. This line is meant to be used as a number line, though it has no markings on it besides the start and finish points. The student is to add the numbers with a dry erase marker as they work out their math problems.

I also received the Time Pieces. These colored, translucent, plastic time-segment pieces come enclosed in a see-through circular container with a lid that snaps on securely. There are four blue circles that represent 60 minutes, or a full hour, three green half circles that represent 30 minutes or half an hour, three yellow wedges that represent 15 minutes or a quarter of an hour, six pink wedges that represent five minutes, and 15 black wedges that represent one minute each.

The Time Pieces also come with a circular booklet consisting of four, double-sided pages. The booklet describes the EZ 1-2-3 Method that is used to teach the student. This is also called a “counting up” method.

In order to facilitate the review, I was also sent a printed copy of this Step by Step EZ 1-2-3 Method. This information contains the same example problem as is found in the booklet that comes with the Time Pieces, but it also explains how the Math Track can be used to Make Change and Subtract Without Borrowing or Regrouping. In order to work with money, you would need to use fake (or real) money instead of the Time Pieces. And you would use Base Ten Blocks to work on subtraction. These products are not sold by the company;however, they can easily be made, or found online.

Following the EZ 1-2-3 Method described in the enclosed booklet, the parent/teacher can easily develop problems for the child(ren) to work out. It shows how the student is to write the start and stop times, select the appropriate time pieces and place it on the Math Track, then record the resulting time after each addition. The student is to continue to add time pieces until they reach the time at the Stop mark. The Time Pieces are then added together to determine the elapsed time. If you find yourself confused, there are three instructional videos found on the Johnny’s Keys website, under the tab: Teach Elapsed Time. I found these extremely helpful. Additionally, the company has a free 2-day elapsed time lesson plan available. According to the booklet, this can be downloaded from the website. Unfortunately, due to a recent update, it is not on the website at this time. You can, however, use the contact form on the site to request the lesson plan, and they will gladly send it.

The lesson plan looks at different instruments to measure time, and talks about how we can tell how much time has elapsed. It then explains the Math Track and the Time Pieces and gives example problems.

My older girls, who are eight and a half years old and ten years old, have been enjoying working out elapsed time problems. We have used the example problems and we have come up with our own. They are learning to count up with the Time Pieces and learning that there is more than one way to come up with the correct answer. It is quite intriguing to see how each of the girls’ minds work differently as they place the different Time Pieces to arrive at the same ending time, and even how they add the pieces together differently.

I think this is a wonderful tool for teaching children to learn how to calculate elapsed time. As children learn to equate each piece with the represented amount of time, they are able to work through problems without the actual Time Pieces in front of them. All they would have to do is draw their own fractional parts of a circle on a time line drawn on paper. This could be very helpful while taking assessment tests. Though, during every day practice, it is wonderful to have the laminated Math Track, as it really does save on paper. The student can work on problem after problem.

You can purchase the Elapsed Time Set, which includes the Math Track and Time Pieces, for $16. The Math Track alone can be purchased for $7, and the Time Pieces can be purchased for $14. They also have three different leveled workbooks, each available for $37. The levels available are grades K-1, grades 2-3, and grades 4-5.


- Product review by Karen Waide, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2017