Everywhere you go these days, you will probably see a child spinning a fidget spinner in his (or her) hands.
Depending on who you ask, these little gadgets are either godsends or annoyances. Regardless, they are aptly named, as they capture the attention of the ever-fidgeting child. Not only that, fidget toys are fun.
Toys or Tools?
Some studies are actually finding that fidgeting, when allowed, can improve performance in kids and adults who suffer from ADHD. It is not such a leap then, to also apply this theory to those who experience OCD, autism, or anxiety.
Because they are being recognized for their ability to aid those with ADHD, fidget toys are also being called fidget tools. There is also a connection between fidget tools and the STEM program.
What else is out there besides fidget spinners?
While the popular fidget spinners are simple in design and performance, the benefit is often the calming effect is has on kids and adults with ADHD. But what about other fidget tools out there?
Some, like the 10 listed below, are proving to be educational tools in their own right. While part of the design was to reduce boredom, the happy side effect is that kids are clicking, spinning, building. They are problem solving their way through their time with these fidget tools.
Fidget tools for ADHD and anxiety
The focus of these first 3 fidget tools are deliberately simple in their design, with the intent to help focus and calm the user. This makes them effective tools for those with other anxiety-related disorders, such as autism.
Yet, we can see that these are educational toys as well. They can be age-appropriate developmental toys that have many benefits, including helping with fine motor skills. Since fidget spinners have saturated the market, we didn’t include them in this list. However, these first three toys are excellent educational tools.
1. Marble Fidget Toys
Mesh and marble fidget toys that keep hands busy while letting the mind relax. They are also quiet and provide little distractions to other students in the classroom. The marble fidgets are an educational tool because the user has to contemplate the motion of the marble in the mesh. Some sets also include spinner tops for pencils.
2. Stress Relief Fidget Cube Toy
The stress relief fidget cube is a non motorized, no battery cube with six sides, like a die. The user can enjoy manipulating each side, including rolling a ball, spinning a wheel, flipping a switch, pressing buttons, and rubbing a circle.
The tactile feel is designed to provide relaxation for people with ADHD or any other disorder which decreases attention or increases anxiety. There is enough functionality in these little cubes to spark some interest in the mechanical makeup of the cube. They are small and discreet. Depending on the fidget cube you get, there may be minimal noise from the clicking.
3. Stretchy String Fidget Sensory Toys
Called Monkey Noodles, these stretchy string fidget/sensory toys can stretch from 10 inches to 8 feet.
They’re targeted toward sensory and tactile stimulation. They also get kids thinking about the material these are made from, and how they stretch so far and then immediately snap back into shape.
STEM toys enhance science, technology, engineering and math skills
Now, think about the latest educational initiative, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and you can see how easily these toys become tools within the STEM objectives.
People are finding that fidget tools are doing more than calming the mind; they are challenging it, making STEM educators and parents everywhere take notice.
STEM toys, like educational games, are designed to engage learning in problem solving and experimentation as well as creative and critical thinking. Some of these smaller toys most certainly qualify as fidget tools.
4. Neliblu Sensory Fidget Snake Cube Twist Puzzle
These snake-like geometric puzzles have been around a long time. They build fine motor skills, eye and hand coordination skills, problem solving skills, and sharpens the user’s powers of deduction.
5. Tangle Relax Therapy, Brain Puzzles & Fidgets
The Tangle Relax Therapy, Brain Puzzles, & Fidgets is a toy bundle that features 8 interconnected twistable pieces to keep the mind engaged.
This pack keeps things interesting. Several items come with this set, including the “Magic Wire Ring,” which challenges the user to make different shapes. Another is the “Snap and Click Wacky Tracks” which has the learner create shapes with links.
6. IQ Challenge Set by GamieUSA
The IQ Challenge Set is an educational toy and puzzles set that stimulates creativity. The set includes a 3” IQ puzzle ball and 4 different 2. 5” plastic puzzle balls, a metal puzzle, and a 2-inch wooden cube puzzle. The toys in this set will help develop critical learning skills.
7. Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Build & Bloom Building Set
This is an incredible set. Learning Build & Bloom set helps build STEM skills, creating thinking, and fine motor skills. The flowers are interchangeable gears. In fact, all parts are interchangeable, which means endless combinations of a spinning flower garden, with butterflies, bees, ladybugs, and all.
8. Learning Resources Stem Simple Machines Activity Set
This Simple Machines Activity set contains six simple machines and accompanying activities to show how they make our world easier.
Your child will enjoy figuring out all he can do with a lever board, wedge, pulley with rope and hook, cart with removable wheels, Archimedes screw, and 4 barrel weights. This set teaches science, cause and effect, and keeps busy kids engaged.
9. California Creations Geomatrix, The Magnetic Art of Building
The Geomatrix set is made with Neodymium magnets, which are strong magnets that keep the shapes where you place them. Kids and adults can build models, thus developing knowledge in geometric shapes and design. Like the SpaceRail toys, this is all about building it yourself. You may want to invest in several sets to make more creations.
10. Magnetit™ 216 piece heavy duty DIY Magnetic Balls Sculpture Toy
The Magnetit™ Magnetic Balls Sculpture Toy is a tabletop toy that certainly qualifies as a fidget tool. The magnets are a stress reducer, but they also improve creativity, design skills, and focus. Adults may find these on some of their coworkers’ desks as stress relievers. For kids, they are STEM toys. Kids learn about cause and effect while using these magnetic toys.
Best STEM/Fidget Tools
As most of you know, the latest toy craze is with fidget spinners, fidget cubes, and related fidget toys. Children embraced them immediately, but so have adults, many of whom have ADHD. While some schools have requested no fidget spinners in the classroom, other fidget tools are finding their way into the classroom as well as at home. People with ADHD often require help with focus and remaining on task. They also may need help calming down. Fidget tools and toys can be a great option.
Just about any kid will encounter the boredom monster once or twice. And so many of our kids today experience ADHD, autism, OCD, and other disorders that makes focusing difficult.
For some, these fidget tools do more than just occupy time and keep them in their seats. They engage the mind, improve cognition, increase fine motor skills, generate questions, and inspire theories and experiments. Manipulatives are a great way for children to explore and learn.