Tuesday, September 10, 2013


This year in particular I have a very squirmy, hands-on class.  I like to think of myself as an "out of the box" teacher and I like to personally meet the needs of each of my students.  One sensory need that I have become aware of over the past few weeks is my littles' hands!  They are constantly moving.  Their hands touch everything, everywhere and every time I am trying to get their brains to focus on something their hands distract them.  I needed to get some "fidgets" to keep their hands busy while I am teaching.  Now, when I took a brain research class a few years ago, this is where I learned about fidgets.  I also learned that I appreciate fidgets in my own personal learning environment so I knew my students would as well.  It is basically something you keep in your hands while you are listening and learning.  This was a hard concept to me at first especially when I thought about implementation.

I was racking my brain on what I could use for fidgets.  In past years, I only needed 1-3 fidgets, so I just used squishy or stress balls for the students who needed/benefited from them.  But this year I wanted to try and use them with my WHOLE class.  Then, my dear colleague, Mrs. Smith opened up my eyes during our 4th grade buddy time about the idea of fidgets.  She has amazing ideas and I love every chance I get to collaborate with her.  Check out her blog:  Mrs. Smith's Fantabluous Fourth Grade and her classroom Facebook page!  During one session with Kindergarten-4th Grade buddies, she started handing out putty to students who were making good choices.  It instantly changed the work ethic of our two classes.  They were focused and engaged and I to steal her idea!  I got a whole box of modeling clay gifted to me so I knew exactly what I was going to use it for...my fidgets!!!

My basket of fidgets.  This is just one "stick" of clay ripped into 17 pieces.

When I look out at my kiddos and I see their eyes not on me I have it deeply ingrained in my body to redirect students because that is how I check to see who is "with me".  But even if someone's eyes are on me, I have found they still might not be "with me".   I broke this habit this year (okay...I'm still trying to break it.  Is there some sort of 12 step program?)  I tested this out by letting them mess/look down at their fidgets while I was teaching but after I finished my lesson I opened it up to class discussion, I called on someone who typically would not be paying attention in the past,  but this time answered my question with full detail!  This got me to thinking that just because their eyes aren't always on me while using the fidgets doesn't mean they aren't listening.  Now, let's not get crazy!  The type-A teacher that I am, we definitely have rules about fidgets.  We discussed that it's important to make eye contact with your teacher most of the time.  If you look at your fidget that is okay, too.  What is not okay....(ready for the list?  Because some of my friends tried ALL these out...)  1.  throwing your fidget  2.  rolling it on the carpet  3.  hitting your friend with it  4.  putting it on your face  I could go on and on :)  My kiddos know that if they are not using their fidgets correctly they get taken away.  I don't even skip a beat with my teaching, I just hold the basket out and they put their fidget in.  We don't use fidgets every single time we are on the carpet, but if I am noticing my friends having a hard time focusing that day then we definitely use them.

I have noticed a big improvement in our attention span's when using fidgets!

Chance is keeping his fidget in his hands.

Preston is being a great listener with his fidget.

Taryn is sitting perfectly while exploring her fidget.

Isaac is ready to learn.

What tricks and tips do you use to keep your students' attention?!?
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