If your childhood was like my elementary school days, you’ll remember being constantly told, “Sit still, back straight, eyes forward, hands on desk.” “Right, sitting still for hours on end without getting restless comes totally naturally!”… said no kid, ever. Luckily, educators and researchers are coming around. Kids definitely need to maintain a sense of order and focus in the classroom. Now we’re starting to get a little more creative about how to achieve that goal. It seems counter-intuitive, but engaging restless hands in small, repetitive motions often provides just enough kinesthetic release and sensory stimulation to keep their minds alert and ready to learn.
A study published last year found that children diagnosed with ADHD benefited from fidgeting while trying to complete a concentration task. Attention disorders are thought to be caused by chronic under-arousal of the brain, and the little movements kids make while fidgeting may serve to “wake up” their nervous system, getting them in the headspace to focus on the task at hand. This theory is no surprise to teachers who work with kids with attention disorders – who could possibly keep their minds on their work while they’re busy focusing on following all the rules? Keeping their hands busy provides an outlet for all that wiggly energy and wakes up their brains all at once. Kids learn better, teachers can teach instead of discipline, and other students can focus on their own learning. A little bit of fidgeting can make a big difference!
Fidget toys are a fabulous solution to this need for stimulation and movement. These toys are small and quiet enough that they don’t distract others, and often fit right in the palm of your hand. Which of course brings us to another wonderful benefit of the fidget toy – as a source of sensory stimulation and self-soothing for those with sensory processing disorders. Available in a wide variety of shapes, textures, and range of motion, there’s a fidget toy for everyone! Even neurotypical adults can’t get enough of these endlessly fascinating doodads – we’ve been seeing just as much interest from grown-ups as from kids! After all, we have so much in common: forced to sit at a desk for hours a day, craving movement, wanting some kind of stimulation outside the all-consuming task at hand.
Everybody needs to engage their restless hands in their own unique way. Mason needs something squishy, while Jing needs something smooth. Harrison prefers a fidget toy that’s constantly changing shapes. How to choose? It’s so hard without having the toy in your hand to try for yourself! If you happen to be in Charleston, please come by one of our stores and give them all a whirl before deciding. If you aren’t lucky enough to come play with us in our beautiful beachy town, we’ve selected a few of our personal favorite fidget toys (you’ll just have to trust us that these feel AWESOME):
This stuff is stretchy, squishy, and bouncy, never dries out, and is non-toxic, latex-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, and phthalate-free. We love that it’s made in the USA by a staff of special needs employees and genius inventors. Some glow in the dark, some change colors as you play, some are magnetic – there’s truly a putty for everyone!
The Star Cube is the perfect halfway point between puzzle and fidget toy. Unbox in two pieces, with a cube that opens to reveal a 12-pointed star. Flip both shapes open to flattened rectangles, then reassemble into endless geometric combinations. Fold together of fidget in two pieces. The Star Cube never gets old!
So simple it’s brilliant. Iridescent strands on a stick form mesmerizing shapes as you twirl. Sturdy plastic and easy to de-tangle, you can easily adjust for your inevitable less-than-graceful moments.
Seriously fun little suckers! Squigz do it all – varied textures, colors, and shapes and the ability to stick to anything…even each other! Build squiggy worlds or just roll one around in your hand. Stick, pop, peel, or squish. This is another amazingly versatile, multi-functional toy.
The #1 new fidget! Everyone enjoys a spin with this little toy, from adults to work to kids at play. Meticulously crafted with hybrid ceramic bearings encased in sturdy silicone, the size and weight are perfect for tricks, stunts, and absent-minded fidgeting alike.
And that’s it! Those are our favorites! Though, of course, we’re always finding more and can’t wait to play with them all. What’s your favorite fidget toy?
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