Fidget toys are something that has really grown in popularity in the last few years but in actual fact, they have been around in for decades just perhaps in different forms. We were surprised at how few people actually knew what they were and what they are used for so we decided that it was important to educate people on the important role that these toys can play.
What Are Fidget Toys?
Most people are aware of fidget spinners but in reality, there are lots of different types and they come in all shapes and sizes. Stress balls, for instance, are a type of fidget toy as they help to promote movement and tactile input. These are both vital in some student’s learning, especially those with autism or AHDH. All fidget toys are designed to promote self-regulation as they help students to focus their minds, have great attention spans as well as being calming which aids active listening and learning.
Who Are They Aimed At?
Most teachers will immediately be able to pick out a restless child in a classroom environment. They will be the ones who can’t seem to sit still, always going to the toilet, sharpening a pencil or constantly needing a drink. Similarly, there may be a child that constantly taps their fingers on the desk or taps their foot. Teachers become aware of these types of children because they become disruptive. In short, these children hinder their own learning and that of others as they have a short attention span. Fidget toys are aimed very much as these types of children.
How Do They Help?
It is often hard for many people to comprehend that if a child can control their movement they will have a greater chance of learning. Controlled movement, if directed correctly, can certainly enhance learning and it has even been suggested that it is actually essential for learning as it engages both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This focusing of concentration has been proven to be highly effective in clinical trials.
There have been numerous studies conducted confirming the importance of movement and sensory input while learning and this has been shown in several case studies proving that there is a link between human cognitive and student learning.
One case study, conducted in a sixth grade classroom in Georgia, the positive effects of fidgets were well observed. Academically, the students showed growth in scholastic achievement when the stress balls were implemented. The average writing score of the class increased from 73% without stress balls to 83% with the use of stress balls. In addition, the student with a medical diagnosis of ADHD showed the most progress with an increase of 27% on a writing sample (Stalvey & Brasell, 2006).
Fidget toys are relatively cheap, easy to find and readily accepted by children. They appeal to boys and girls across the age spectrum. They can even be made at home which can bring even more fun to the learning experience. All you need is a balloon and some everyday household ingredients such as flour, rice or oatmeal.