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5 Fantastic Uses For Sand Timers!

5 Fantastic Uses For Sand Timers!


Visuals aids are very important for any child whether they have additional needs or not.  It can be very difficult for a child to understand the concept of time. Sand timers are brilliant tools for helping with this

Firstly, you will need to fully explain to your child how the sand timers work but once they’ve got the basic gist you can start to use it as a fun and visual helper.

There are many ways you can use sand timers, here are 5 fantastic uses for sand timers!

Counting Down

If you’ve ever told your child “5 more minutes” and half an hour later, you’re still fighting to get them to do what was asked of them a sand timer can be a very useful and effective tool.

Whether you want to leave the house, eat dinner, get them off electronics sand timers are great for this.  Rather than just saying 5 minutes and expecting them to understand that 5 minutes have passed, giving them the visual of a sand timer can really help.

If lunch is going to be 5 minutes, explain to your child “lunch will be 5 minutes” and start the sand timer

Explaining that when all of the sand has passed through it will be time for lunch. Not only can they see the time passing through the sand visually, but they know when it stops, they need to do something.

Time Out

Everyone needs a time out at some point.  If you want your child to have a time out, simply take them to a safe place and explain they are having a time out and that once the sand has passed through the timer they can come back and engage in whatever they were doing before.  

Not only can they see the time passing but the sand can also be quite calming to watch. I love sand timers as visual stims

Now flip this around … life with children can be very hard and sometimes as a parent you may need a time out.  Again, explain to your child that you need a time out and once the sand has passed through the timer your time out will have finished.  

Whether you need 5 minutes to regroup or just go to the toilet alone, the visual of a sand timer can really help to promote this.  

This can be really helpful if you are talking to another adult to encourage your child to wait and not interrupt.


Imagine your children both want to play with the same toy or game and need to take turns.  You can explain the fairness of taking turns and set the sand timer.  Timmy gets to play with the ball for 3 minutes and once the sand has run out it will be James turn.  

The child waiting their turn will benefit from watching the timer as a visual count down and it will really encourage turn-taking.

Make turn taking into a fun game but setting the sand timer and starting to tell a story.  Once the sand has run through it is the next persons turn and so on … you can adapt this with lots of fun games!

A Fun Game

Sand timers are so much fun! Try turning the things your child doesn’t into a game by using a sand timer.  For example, if they don’t like putting their toys away you can set a sand timer and say “let’s see if we can put all of these toys away before the sand runs out” you can work together and make it a fun and enjoyable task.

Another great game is setting a sand timer and seeing how many things you can think of in that time. Set a 2-minute sand timer and see how many animals you can think of in that time, the person who gets the most wins. You can adapt this in so many different ways!

Teeth Brushing

We all know how important dental hygiene is and how important it is to brush our teeth twice a day. We also need to brush our teeth for 2 minutes. But how can we expect a child to know how long 2 minutes is? Use a sand timer

Using a sand timer will give them something visual to see whilst brushing their teeth and knowing they are doing it for the correct amount of time. It can even make toothbrushing a little more fun! Some dentists even have 2-minute sand timers that they give to children for free, so it’s worth asking next time you’re at the dentist.


Sand timers have so many different uses and can be educational whilst also lots of fun. They are great for teaching time management to little ones and those who struggle with telling the time. Visuals timers give us an idea of how long is left before we need to do the task we’ve been asked to complete or how much time we have to complete a task. You can also use them in the kitchen and whilst doing experiments!

I personally just love to watch the sand falling through the timer, I find it mesmerising and extremely calming.

We hope that you have found these uses for sand timers helpful… if you need any more support please join our Facebook Sensory Support Group