Fidget toys are things and tools to help with attention, focus, calming down, and attentive listening. Fidgets come in different sizes, shapes, and materials and are often referred to by various different names. Stress balls, tangles, pencil toppers hand spinners can all be used as fidget toys to promote movement and tactile input that is critical for active learning for students and adults alike.
Who can benefit from fidget toys? It is easy to point out that restless student. The one who is always getting up to sharpen his pencil, use the bathroom when he just went 5 minutes ago, or take a drink for what seems like the 100 time. We can recognize that person who is constantly tapping his foot, rummaging through his desk, or peeling up his name tag. The student also hinders his own learning and productivity is impeded by their short attention span.
So, how can fidget toys can help somebody to control their movement and actually improve their learning? The research on fidgets shows that if movement can be directed, it can enhance learning. Furthermore, movement is essential for learning because the learner is required to use both the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
In addition to research confirming the importance of movement and sensory input while learning, learning is enhanced when fidgets are introduced, as documented through case studies and a comprehensive understanding of human cognition and student learning. One case study, conducted in a sixth grade classroom in Georgia, shows the positive effects of fidgets. 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 writing samples (Stalvey & Brasell, 2006).
Fidgets are affordable, easily introduced, and appealing to all ages and genders. They can even be made in your home!