Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Best Budget-Friendly Fidget Toys to Keep Your Child Focused During Remote Learning and Homeschooling

Remote learning. Did you just audibly groan? Many of us are in the thick of it, again, due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you and your child are on the struggle bus, you are not alone. Remote learning is no joke; neither is homeschooling. It can be frustrating, exhausting, and confusing for us all. 

For kids with focus struggles, remote learning can amplify their need to be redirected. Thankfully, there are steps you can take, techniques you can use, and fidget toys to keep your child focused. Plus, who doesn't like toys? These can help any child, not just those with special needs. (Truth be told, I have my own tools I use to help me with my anxiety!)

If you need a refresher on the magic tool for kids with ADHD, sensory issues, and autism, check out my post on The Angry Bowl. This is helpful when your child is very close to or is already "over the edge." I also have shared the 9 children's picture books we love to help kids navigate their big feelings.

Now, all the toys and books in the world won't work if your child's basic needs aren't met. It's very important that you give your child frequent movement breaks, as well as make sure they have a stable blood sugar (nutrient-dense meals and snacks that contain protein, fiber-laden carbs, and healthy fats), is well-hydrated (water, water, water), well-rested, and feels safe with their emotional needs met. (I know, this can be a tall order! But we want to set up our kids for success). We also need to make sure their learning-space is comfortable, familiar, and calm. 

If you can say "check" to all of these, it's time to talk about tools!

We allow figdet toys for learning for all of our kids with some rules. The toy has to stay in their lap. They can't show it off or let it distract them from learning. If the toy does distract, then the toy isn't the right one for your child.

We used to say the fidget can't make any noise, but we've changed this rule since they're usually muted while on Zoom. So as long as they can hear the teacher and listen, it's okay if the toy makes a *bit* of noise.

Variety is important. What works one day may not work another day. I'd recommend starting with three fidgets that have different functions and textures to see what works for your kiddo. If you're like us, with multiple kids, we can rotate the fidgets between our children or even trade with friends. 

***CLICK ON THE PRODUCT IMAGE to get pricing, reviews, additional images, and details***

1: A fidget cube or ball.

These fidget cubes are so much fun! There are twenty-four color/design options, so it's easy to find one that your child favors. There are six sides, each with a different function: flip, spin, click, glide, etc. We love that these are lightweight, small (but not teeny), and sturdy. I don't recommend buying a less expensive version as they don't hold up to use. Each of my kiddos has one of these, and we got four different colors to avoid arguments! This toy can be slightly noisy depending on the feature used, especially the switch piece (pictured on the left side of the cube). Again, this isn't an issue for us when our kids are muted. An alternative is the fidget ball. You push balls from one hole to another. This toy is louder than the cube, and of course, some kids can't be handed a ball without tossing, rolling, or throwing it.

2: Therapy putty.

Therapy putty isn't the same as slime or Play-Doh (thankfully). Therapy putty is made to hold up, and in a theraputic setting is supposed to strengthen, provide pain relief, and help with strength and flexibility. For our purposes, we simply use it to fidget! It can be stretched, molded, pushed, and squished. The putty is unscented and nontoxic. It's a good idea to buy a variety pack like this one, because depending on your child's strength, preference, and sensory needs depends on which container of putty you will use. As you can see, there's extra soft, soft, medium, and firm options. My kids prefer the firmer putty.

3: Flippy sequin animal.

This weighted, flippy sequin, adorable friend makes for the perfect lap fidget! We have the narwhal version (pictured). There are other animals available, including an elephant, hippo, dino, and unicorn. There are larger animals available, though I personally think they are too big to stay contained in a child's lap without being a distraction. The larger ones, a hedgehog or unicorn, also might be too heavy for younger children. If you're going to try this toy, start with the lighter, smaller one. 

4: Stretch exercise bands.

Also known as resistence bands, these can be used in a variety of ways. We use our exercise bands around chair legs to encourage leg movement and resistance. Using the bands pictured on your right, we tie the band (using preferred resistance) around the chair legs. Kids can also thread the infinity bands around their thighs or ankles to encourage gentle movement and resistance while sitting. You MUST supervise kids using these, as they can pose strangulation hazard and circulation issues. These are great tools because you can also use them for exercise/movement breaks: weight lifting (without free weights) and stretching. Again, supervision is key with these. They are basically giant rubber bands and can do some harm if used incorrectly.

5: Fidget snakes and tangles. 

My kids absolutely love these. They can be twisted and manipulated to keep hands busy. The product on the right (usually called a tangle toy) is textured to provide sensory input and comes in a variety of color options. If you purchase more than one, they can be snapped together for an even larger tangle. I will warn you that the pieces to the tangle toys are itty-bitty and can be snapped into place (loudly)--so it's for kids who don't have oral sensory issues and who won't be snapping and unsnapping the toy during learning. However, they do lock into place very well and stay in place with play. Outside of a focus tool, the tangle toy is great for fine motor. It is NOT easy to snap the pieces into place and takes a lot of strength and concentration.

Cheers to us, parents, kids, and teacher, as we work together to keep learning during this difficult season. For more learning adventues, join me on Facebook and Instagram.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated and published upon approval. Your thoughts and questions are also welcome via e-mail at whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com.