Sensory Idea: fidget toys
We fidget. A lot.
Everyone does, but we all handle it differently. Some people tap their pencils or drum their fingers. Some people shake their knees, rattling the entire table. Some people check their phones every 30 seconds, while others sing and dance as if on Broadway inside their imaginations to pass the time.
We all fidget.
But some people fidget more than others. And sometimes it becomes an obstacle to the day’s task.
I’ll list a few popular fidget toys in a second. First, how are fidget toys used? To just give a kid a fidget toy and walk away is essentially just giving them a toy rather than a tool.
What is a fidget toy?
It’s a small tool, often a small toy, that aids in paying attention.
How to use a fidget toy:
- Sometimes just sitting with the fidget toy does the trick. As an adult, I take a small notebook and a pen with me and take notes. That’s my fidget. I often don’t ever look back at the notes, but just writing them down forces me to focus on what’s being said. But for a lot of kids, they become more focused on the toy than the task. (And to hand my son a notebook and pen will result in endless stories about the day rather than notes about a lesson.)
- Use it as a reward. “Finished this page of math and then you can play with this toy for 2 minutes.”
- Use it as a timer. When we’re struggling to get through a page in the math workbook, I sometimes pull out the fidget spinner and we race the spinner. Can he get the page done before the spinner stops? This only works for things like math that require rote memory. Racing something while working on an in depth task, like reading comprehension, can add to a child’s anxiety.
Popular fidget toys:
*note that some of these are more appropriate for younger kids, and some for older kids.
- fidget spinner
- silly putty
- play dough
- small pile of Legos
- Tangle Jr
- Wooden fidget puzzle
- Giant Nut and Bolt set
- hand boiler