Lickety Split

For preschool aged children, the world is a magical place awaiting endless exploration. In an adult world, life can become a juggling act of deadlines, responsibilities and tasks to manage. Sometimes we forget how different these worlds are and how difficult it can be for kids to understand adults when they make seemingly simple requests.

This becomes most apparent when kids and adults try to communicate about matters of time. For children, time is such an abstract concept that it can only be fully comprehended when attached to other tangible concepts. In fact, evidence suggests that their neural development does not support the processing of abstract concepts in a fully adult manner until the teenage years. Thus, when adults simply expect children to adopt their ways of thinking about time, it often fails. For example, how often have you seen the following scenario?

Without the use of tangible markers, a seemingly simple concept like "stay focused for five minutes" becomes one of the most difficult challenges for the preschool mind. However, even moreso than with adults, music can have a profound ability to help children stay focused, recognize a routine and understand the elapsing of time.

The carefully chosen classical music selections in Lickety Split each help facilitate diferent everyday tasks for children. When appropriate, an accelerating tempo helps kids recognize how much time remains. Along with an animated timer character, the audio and visual cues in Lickety Split help set a challenge and keep kids focused.

By turning daily tasks into a fun beat-the-clock game, Lickety Split allows parents to shift from being a child's task-master to instead being their champion. With the app communicating all information about the task, the parent is then free to provide positive support. Rather than simply fearing negative consequences, children respond to the chance to meet a challenge and prove their accomplishment.


The timer uses encouragement and the power of music to motivate children as they move through daily transitions. So, instead of nagging, grown-ups are free to champion their kids!

Developed by parents and educational technologists. Perfect for preschoolers, early elementary schoolers, and their grown-ups.

  • Musical timers include:
  • Ready to leave the house in 5 minutes
  • Getting dressed
  • Getting ready for a meal
  • Cleaning one's room
  • Making one's bed
  • Brushing teeth (for a full two minutes)
  • Taking turns

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Please note that this is an old version and does not include all the features found in the mobile app

  • Why use a musical timer?

    "We need to leave the house in five minutes."
    "Brush your teeth for a full two minutes."
    …these statements meant little to our preschoolers, so they would blithely ignore them.

    "Take turns with your sister."
    "For the umpteenth time, please pick up your Legos."
    "Get ready for bed."
    …we were getting sick of nagging. So we decided it would be more fun to make it a game, using music and encouragement. And the Lickety Split Musical Timer came into being.

    Lickety Split turns the abstract concept of time into a concrete audio/visual for a child. it uses the power of music to motivate, helping children move through transitions throughout their day. Grown-ups champion kids (no more nagging!) and everyone celebrates his or his success.

  • Using Lickety Split

    There are two types of timers:
    In Beat The Timer, the goal is to finish (e.g. brushing teeth) until the timer counts down

    A parent or teacher's enthusiasm for using Lickety Split can be contagious for children. For example, "let's get this room clean. I think we can beat the duck."

    The music in Lickety Split has been carefully selected to provide audio cues, helping to motivate children.

    Lickety Split is designed to let your younger children try again if they don't succeed the first time. The goal is their ultimate success.

    Parents can reward a child's success at a Lickety Split task if they choose, but may find the child's internal satisfaction of knowing s/he did it to be their motivation.

    There are custom timers without set tasks. Some example ways you could use custom timers are:

    (Beat The Timer) "Can you hop into bed before the two minute runs out?"
    (Countdown) "I need 4 minutes to pay these bills, then we can play together." (How enpowering for a child to sit and watch this timer!)

    Some days it's nice to dawdle, but on days when you need to get going, lickety split, we hope this app will be helpful to you, as it has been for our family.

    Send us feedback on how you use Lickety Split.

  • Why can’t my children just learn to stay focused by themselves?

    For young children, much of the neural foundation supporting focus & attention is simply not developed yet. This makes the process of staying focused on a task is far more difficult than it is for adults.

    Ellen Galinsky writes: The skill of focus and self control begins to develop in the early childhood years, but it doesn’t fully become established until the later teen and early adult years. The prefrontal cortex [a part of the brain responsible for staying on task] is among the last parts of the brain to mature. So when should we begin promoting focus and self control?Adele Diamond says:

    How can you say that a three-year-old or a four-year-old is capable of any kind of executive function? [The] prefrontal-cortex is too immature” The analogy I like to use is: Think about a two-year-old’s legs. Your legs at age two are not at their full adult length; it may take ten or fifteen years to reach their full adult legs -- they’re very immature. But even with those immature legs, a two-year-old can walk; a two-year-old can even run. So the legs, even in their immature two-year-old state, are capable of serving a lot of the functions that legs are supposed to serve. An immature prefrontal cortex is capable of supporting a lot of the functions it’s supposed to support. So even babies, toddlers, and kindergarten children are capable of exercising executive functions to some extent.

    The use of a musical timer can be thought of as training wheels for your child’s brain. Rather than expecting the child’s under-developed executive function to keep up with adult concepts of time, musical cues engage more sensory processing systems to reinforce the elapsing of time.