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The Best Ways to Use Classroom Timers (Plus Free Digital Options)

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 4 min read

Are you using a classroom timer? If not, do you have a minute to talk? (We promise we won’t time you). There’s plenty of evidence that turning on a timer in your classroom can have benefits for your students — from helping them stay focused to helping you pace your lessons.

With that in mind, we’ve created some free classroom timers perfect for teachers (now available on the Teach Starter YouTube channel). Bonus: These are all digital timers for the classroom, so you don’t have to do much more than click “play!” Intrigued? Let’s dive into some of our favorite ways to put this simple tool to work!

How Are Timers Used in the Classroom?

Start Off the Morning

You’ve got a lot to do when your class is slowly straggling into the room in the morning, and bell-ringer activities plus a strong morning routine can help your classroom management. But a countdown timer set up for the morning also gives students a chance to get over their excitement at seeing their friends for the first time in, oh, 15 hours, get settled, and know exactly when they need to be heads up, eyes on you.


Ever stand in front of your class during a brainstorm and say “There are no bad ideas,” only to have students hem and haw because they can’t come up with the perfect answer? During a whole-class brainstorm or even when you’ve paired students off, the ticking of the classroom timer can help get those “imperfect” answers rolling as students know that time is a wastin’! And they’ll soon find out that you were right — all ideas are valuable during a brainstorm!

Keeping Transitions on Track

Do your students tend to get lost in those transitions between lunch and classwork or when moving from group work back to their desks? A classroom timer can help keep your kiddos focused and make transitions go more smoothly.

See more secrets to truly effective transitions!

Timing Games

Add a time element to classroom games to keep your students on track and add an extra element of fun to learning through play.

Timed Reading

Want to keep kids engaged in their reading – even the kids who aren’t your classroom bookworms? Consider adding a timed element to reading such as a specific period of time to skim a text to find information.

Timing Until a Brain Break

There are myriad studies out there about just how much information kids can take in before they need a brain break. Set a classroom timer for yourself to help pace yourself and remind yourself when it’s time to give your students a much-needed break.

Our Favourite Digital Timers for the Classroom

Big Drink 20-Minute Online Digital Timer

Most age groups will benefit from this 20-minute timer. The image shows a colourful character drinking out of a straw as the drink slowly disappears.

Looking for a different time? This timer is also available in a 1-hour timer for the classroom, a 30-minute timer for the classroom, a 20-minute timer for the classroom, and finally, a 2-minute timer. All of these videos are counting down from the time limit, giving your students the amount of time they have left to complete the task.

Disco Dancer 5-Minute Online Digital Timer

Now that we have addressed those longer activities, what about the shorter ones like think, pair, shares, or brain breaks? Don’t worry! We didn’t forget about these! We created a disco-themed backdrop that will take your students through 5-minutes, 2-minutes, and 1-minute!

The following timed options are available:

Counting-Up Digital Timers for the Classroom

There may be instances where you will need a digital timer that counts up. For example, you may want students to write down how long a task takes to complete. Simply project this one-hour counting-up digital timer and have students write down the time when they have completed the task.

When teaching students how to manage their time, a timer that counts up is sometimes easier to use. Take writing, for example. You may want your students to brainstorm, or stay in the prewriting phase, for 10 minutes before moving on to the draft phase. A timer that counts up is much more effective than one that counts back.

We also have a timer that counts up to 10-minutes if you need a shorter length of time.

We’d love to hear how you use online digital timers in your classroom! Share your favourite options below!

Check out our full range of free digital timers for the classroom.


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