Fidget spinners are everywhere right now, and whether we like it or not, our secret is out.
While many children using these “new” “toys” are not using them for the right reason or in the right way, it has brought the topic of sensory integration into the limelight. And we can’t complain that that is a bad thing.
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I, personally, do not mind fidget spinners… when they are use appropriately and for the intended purpose. BUT that doesn’t mean I am going to continue implementing their use in my classroom.
Because there are SO MANY other alternatives for sensory integration than using a fidget spinner. And most of them are a lot more functional for students with special needs.
Theraputty is an OT favorite… not to mention, my kids’ favorite! We have it in 4 different colors and, not only is it great for fine motor, but it works as a great incentive for completing work 😉
Kinetic Sand is great, and my kids love it. But it can be super messy to clean up… that’s why I prefer MadMattr (not pictured, but linked above). Watch this Facebook Live I did on what it is and why I love it so much.
Water beads are probably one of my most favorite sensory “toys”… you can read all about the do’s and don’t’s here. Did you know freezing them is not a super good idea? Ha!
I really like these stretch bands because of how they feel, how quiet they are to use, and the multiple uses they possess.
Marble fidget toys are amazing because they’re so inconspicuous and they make no sound. The texture of the covering is great for sensory input, and the marble inside keeps fingers moving.
These pens came as an Amazon suggestion, which I’m grateful for because I never thought of using pens like this as sensory alternatives. They’re pretty… outlandish… so I think I will keep them for use in my classroom only (and not inclusion).
Tangles are aaaaamazing. No sound, great for fidgety hands, and they come in so many styles and colors.
The wooden slider tangle is great for a Calm Down Kit because it requires a little critical thinking to manipulate. The little slots on each wooden square need to line up to be able to manipulate the tangle… letting students focus more on the tangle than why they don’t want to write or do math.
Chewy and Chew Tubes are pretty traditional, and now they come in so many options. You can find them on necklaces and in multiple shapes and colors. These are a great way to help students with oral sensory needs.
You can create your own fidgets using nuts, bolts, and spacers from any hardware store. They’re inexpensive too. Keep the nuts on the bolts with a little hot glue at the end.
Fidget cubes are newer, and many of the faces of the cube do have parts that move and make noise when moved. It’s great, but if you’re looking for something quieter and more on the down-low, then I would try a different sensory option.
Fidgetballs are nice and quiet, but you can make your own with water beads and balloons. Check out my how to video here, and grab the free sequencing experiment directions here.
Light covers have forever changed my classroom environment. While they are an investment initially, they will last years. They are super easy to put up (they have magnets that attach right to the lights in the ceiling) and take down. Minutes!
Wobble cushions are a fantastic alternative to students who need to get the wiggles out. They are a couple of different versions… the one above just uses air inside, but you can get them with sand, beads, and marble-sized balls inside. It all depends on the sensory needs of your child.
A FEW MORE HONORABLE MENTIONS
What are your favorite sensory alternatives?