It wasn’t a week into the new school year when my daughter told me she had been tipping her chair back in class. In fact, she tipped it so far that she fell over with the desk on top of her. The following week she got in trouble for fidgeting with items in her desk when the class was getting ready for a test. Each week it’s something new; tipping the chair, playing with things, tapping her pencil…it was clear to me, she needed to fidget. She is a very active child looking for sensory input and needed an outlet while she was expected to be couped up in the classroom. She was seeking that outlet any way she knew how, using what was available at the time. She needs to let out some of the energy and gain sensory input while working, without it she cannot not focus. Like many fidgety kids, she needed sensory tools to help her in the classroom.
I began speaking with her teacher and explaining her needs. She wasn’t being disruptive on purpose, she was simply a fidgety kid that needed sensory input in order to focus. We decided on allowing her to bring in quiet items-sensory tools, that she could keep on or in her desk to ‘play’ with when she felt she needed it. By giving her appropriate sensory tools we would be guiding her energy in the right direction so she didn’t go elsewhere to get her sensory needs met. There are a lot of sensory tools to choose from but we focused mainly on tactile tools – things she would be able to quietly manipulate with her hands while the teacher was giving a lesson. (We also use a variety of oral sensory tools but I’ll save that for another post).
I know she is not the only fidgety child out there and until teachers routinely stock their classrooms with sensory tools, I am sharing with you, parents some of the awesome sensory tools to help your fidgety kids.
9 Awesome Sensory Tools to Help Your Fidgety Kids in the Classroom
1. Pipe Cleaners: These are one of the easiest and most cost effective tools to come by. The combination of soft touch and flexibility make a great tool for kids to quietly fidget with.
2. Silly Putty: Good old fashioned silly putty allows the child to stretch and squeeze while quietly sitting at their desk.
3. Worry Rock: A worry rock or worry stone is a small smooth stone that fits in the palm of your hand.
4. Sensory Sticks: These are really cool. The brightly colored stick is a BP/latex free, pocket sized sensory tool. Can by used as a hand fidget or as a sensory brush.
5. Stress Ball: Stress balls are an easy one to keep in the desk and bring out to squeeze on. This one is especially great to work out any frustrations.
6. Tangle Jr. Hand Puzzle: I love this hand puzzle! More than just a fidget it is quiet hand held puzzle.
7. Puffer Balls: Similar to the stress ball, a puffer ball is fun to squeeze but also adds the extra tactile nubs on the outside.
8. Sensory Bracelets: Sensory bracelets are so great because they stay on the child and go with them anywhere. These are really awesome becaue they are also oral sensory tools as they are chewable!
9. Desk Buddy Ruler : The desk buddy is great for the classroom. It can stay up on the childs desk and offer sensory input when needed. I like this one because it remains in the child’s line of sight offering a reminder to play with it instead of seeking sensory input elsewhere.
Are you looking for more information on Sensory processing or wondering whether or not your child might be searching sensory input? You might want to star with this article – Recognizing Sensory Triggers in an Otherwise Typical Child.
I feel I should mention that we have also found success in using essential oils for our fidgety child. Many of the oils help with calming and focus and are safe to use with children.
Another great resource is this article from Lemon Lime Adventures: What is Sensory Processing Disorder?