Welcome to the Bright Ideas Blog Hog - hosted by Shelley Gray from Teaching in the Early Years, along with some special helpers (ahem...Blair Turner and Amanda Nickerson)! I am so excited to be a part of such a phenomenal blog hop! This one is so great because it is all about fabulous teaching ideas - and who doesn't need more of those?!
Bright Idea: Take Advantage of the Wiggles!I work with special needs students, ages 6-9, so I know a thing or two about the wiggles! Not a day goes by where you won't hear me tell my students "Time to get the wiggles out!" or "Wow, you are very fidgety today! Let's use a strategy" - it comes with the territory!
Special educator or not, I know you have all had these days. It may be challenging to manage these high-energy days (or as a teacher friend once said, "spicy days"), but you CAN make it work! Research supports the use of "fidgets" and "movement breaks"(check out these research articles here, here, here, and here) as preventative strategies and interventions as they relate to behavior, attention, and memory.
There are many different ways you can help support students who are fidgety. There are lots of sensory strategies I have discussed in the past, and will discuss in future posts. If you are interested in staying up to date on these ideas, make sure to follow my blog! Today's post is devoted strictly to the wonderful world of fidgets!
What Are Fidgets?"Fidgets" are strategies or tools used to help students self-regulate. They may help the child in a variety of ways, depending on their needs and the type of fidget being used, such as: maintain focus/attention, to calm/soothe, to alert or stimulate, or to "ground" or provide sensory input. There are fidget's of all different materials, colors, shapes, sizes, and uses. Generally, people think of "hand fidgets" when they think of the term fidgets, or items you can play with in your hand. These are wonderful strategies for many kids, but there are a variety of different types of fidgets out there worth checking out.
Types of FidgetsAs mentioned above there are all different types of fidgets. Lots of different companies sell products aimed toward teachers - marketing their toys/items as "fidgets." However, I must say that some of the best fidget's I've ever found have been little toys at the dollar store, putty I found in my niece's Easter basket (don't worry - I asked first!), or pieces of fabric/materials from old clothes or bags. It all depends on the types of fidgets you are looking for and which ones work for you kids. Once you become well-versed in the World of Fidgets, the easier it will be to find fidgets for your classroom.
Below are some common fidgets teachers use in their classrooms:
When To Use FidgetsIn my classroom, fidgets are provided by non-contingent, meaning my students can ask to use a fidget at any point, or help themselves from my fidget bin. I want students to be able to have access to supportive strategies throughout the day - I want them to advocate for their needs!
Many students benefit from using fidgets to help them focus during lessons. Notice the student who is doodling in her notebook when you are lecturing? Or the student who is gnawing on the cap of his pen? These students are looking for some sort of input or sensory tool to use to help them concentrate. This is where fidgets come in!
Managing FidgetsFidgets can be fun, but it is important to that you, the educator or parent, as well as the students, view these as "sensory tools" or "strategies." Fidget's do not work for all students - many students, depending on their needs, will not benefit from having a stress ball in their hands during a lesson, as they will become distracted. It's all about Trial-and-Error, and knowing your kiddos.
That being said, some students will take advantage, or will choose fidgets that are inappropriate for their needs or the situation (want to use a finger puzzle when they need to do finger painting). From the start of school, when I'm teaching students how, when, and why to use fidgets (as we would with any other part of our classroom/school day), I instruct them that teachers have the final say. At any point, a teacher can confiscate the fidget, change the fidget, or deny a fidget. I explain that, as teachers, we are experts at using fidgets - we know which fidgets will work best for which students, and we are especially good at figuring out who is using the fidget to help them, and who is using a fidget for fun. fThis works well with younger grades, as they buy into this mentality more, but can be tailored for upper grades as well. Establishing these rules and sense of responsibility from the beginning really starts the year off strong. Just like any routine, students will test it out the first several weeks of school (or first several weeks from when you introduced it), but allow time, patience, and support, and you will be amazed at how useful these tools can be!
If you want to find out more about fidgets, make sure to follow my blog, as I will be posting more about their uses, as well as finding the perfect fidgets for different needs.
Looking for more bright ideas? Make sure to check out Amanda's post for more practical classroom ideas at One Extra Degree. Amanda's blog happens to be the FIRST stop on the Blog Hop if you are keeping track - so make sure you go back to check out all the amazing ideas from some amazing educators!
Alternatively, if you are looking for more grade-specific posts or want to find posts based on your interests and classroom needs, check out the 2 linkys at the bottom of this post! Thanks for visiting and happy hopping!