Teaching Kids Timekeeping with Kanban

In my previous post I recounted how our checklist kanban for the kids had helped them internalize their morning and evening schedules for the week. Over time, it had also outgrown its usefulness, at least from my perspective as the primary driver of Mom’s Taxi.

Although the kids now knew, mostly without prompting, what they had to do in the morning and evening, they were not necessarily doing them in the strict timeframe dictated by school bells and bed times.

This was becoming a contentious issue, especially as leaving just a few minutes later than planned in the mornings can have a disastrous impact on travel time. And with our household mantra of “First do what you have to do, before you do what you want to do” (credit goes to my other half for that one!) starting to sound like parental nagging, it was time for a new kidzban experiment.

I present to you … our very own Weasley Kidzban Clock.

Our Weasley Kidzban Clock - Inspired by J K Rowling.

Weasley Kidzban Clock

Getting around to it

I had been toying with the idea of a non-linear kanban for over a year. I had even come up with some rough drafts of how a tactile, round kanban could work, but always within the context of activities that don’t have a required order or direction of flow. The wedges on a Trivial Pursuit wheel that you collect as you answer questions correctly, for example, can be collected in any order. You win the game when you have filled your wheel with wedges.

Over Easter – with due credit to J K Rowling’s rich imagination  – I realized that a round, clock-based kanban could be the answer to teaching the kids the necessity of keeping up the pace when required.  Although their activities don’t strictly speaking require a fixed order, a preferred order had evolved while we used the Checklist Kanban. Adapting their kanban and mimicking this order on a “clock” would tie in subtly with the concept of timekeeping. The fact that the kids love Harry Potter and were already familiar with the concept of a clock that “shows where you are” made the format of the clock a no-brainer.

Putting it together

Making the clock was another testament to how little you need to do Kidzban and to make it fun. All you have to do is to look around at what you have and use it creatively while involving the kids throughout.

We made the clock in an afternoon, with an extra day for the choosing and printing of the photos:

  • I cut the clock face from last year’s cardboard calendar, pencilled in the segments and the kids colored the segments themselves over the course of a Sunday afternoon.
  • I wrote the activity names on silver poster board and the kids cut them out to the specified length. They also helped me stick them on the wall around the clock with Prestik. This is so we can change the order of the activities at any time or to cater for new activities.
  • I cut out the clock arms – long one for Boy One and short one for Boy Two – and the self-printed head shots. They helped me choose the photos from our family photo collection and stuck the pictures to the arms.
  • The grip binder in the middle comes from an actual cardboard clock Boy One made at school that I stumbled across while clearing out some cupboards.

Time will tell

It’s too early to report on the long-term learning results, since we’ve only been using the clock  for about a month. But the kids are certainly having a lot of fun with it so far. We have placed it strategically at the bottom of the stairs, so they have to pass it every time they go up or down. We now also have a new mantra to Check and Change … (the Weasley Clock). Changing the position of their avatars on the clock is starting to become a habit and they particularly like comparing status with each other.

The only perceived downside so far is that our clock doesn’t magically change position based on where you are …

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4 Responses to Teaching Kids Timekeeping with Kanban

  1. kanplan.net says:

    I just want to share with you an android app that I made for my 3 kids. It is based on kanban principals, and made it for my kids to organize their homework and visualize their work in progress, my daughter had issues in school 2 years ago for organizing and keep focus on her work to be done. She has been using KanBan principals for the last 2 years, and worked so well and decided to build an app for her. My other 2 kids loved it and starting using it as well… Lot of friends ask to share it, so decided to publish it in Android Google Play for them, the app is free and runs on a tablet. They all have a tablet in their desk for task tracking …
    Hope you will enjoy it as much as my kids are doing!


    • Thanks for sharing the info about your KanPlan app. I usually don’t approve comments with links to products and sevices, but this is relevant to our Kidzban community.

      There are a number of kanban apps on the market, but this is the first time I’ve seen something pitched directly at kids. I like that it’s geared to work on tablets, too. With the way learning is going in the world, we may soon find tablets in every school bag.

      So far, our family is using mainly physical boards linked to our general reward system, but as our boys get older and need to take more ownership of their homework, I could see us using something like this, too.

  2. kanplan.net says:

    Thanks Maritza for your reply, I really appreciate it! If you end up using KanPlan, I will be very interested in hearing about your comments. My husband and I are both software engineers and have been applying KanBan for several years at work and at home, we both are committed to make the best for our kids, and want to share our experience with people who believe in Kanban 🙂

  3. My pleasure. 🙂 The way you talk about Kanban and your kids sounds almost just like me! In fact, I’m writing up a new post right now about how Kanban has continued to help us address a specific challenge in our family very successfully.

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