As a child, I was always encouraged to leave my toys outside of the classroom. The reason being is that they were viewed as a distraction to other students. After countless yo-yo confiscations, I realized that maybe there was some validity to that argument.
In today’s educational landscape there has been a shift where specific toy trends have become incredible tools for teaching. That’s right; I’m talking about fidget toys. Fidget toys come in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes and are used to foster active learning and promote a child’s ability to concentrate and listen while causing minimal distraction to others.
Fidget toys such as spinners, cubes, tangles etc. have sensory input properties (anything that you perceive using your senses can be called sensory input) that encourage quiet body movements.
I recently spoke with a second grade teacher to dive in to how fidget toys can have a positive impact in the classroom – here are a couple of things that I learned:
Fidget toys can be used as a de-escalation tactic for children who are having trouble focusing during teacher directed lessons. Allowing a child to activate their sensory input enables them to focus more on the task at hand without disrupting others around them.
Fidget toys can be used as a “math manipulative” – a math manipulative is an object used to help individuals understand and practice principles of mathematics (for example, using blocks to count). In the case of fidget toys, this teacher uses a fidget spinner as a timer. She spins the fidget spinner and has students answer as many questions as they can before time runs out. Not only does this peak her students’ interests, but allows them to learn to work efficiently under time constraints.
Teachers are constantly looking for new ways to spike students’ interest levels. The fidget toy trend has allowed teachers to bring engaging methods of teaching into the classroom that keep students excited about learning.