Updated: Jan 8
Fidget toys took the world by storm in recent years and their benefits are endless. They act as self-regulation tools that increase attention and focus while also lowering stress in children (and adults!) who use them. They are designed to have a calming effect on people with anxiety, autism, ADHD and a variety of other needs and they boost active listening. So when you're planning what to put in your sensory box, what fidget toys should you be looking for?
Why Use Fidget Toys?
Fidget toys were designed to relieve nervous energy, anxiety, and psychological stress, as well as improving the focus of the children. Children who fidget often need help to regulate their attention and relieve their stress. Fidgeting can help; it gets rid of nervous energy, which frees up the mental space to focus on the lessons or activities.
Fidgeting helps as when people have more control or direction over their movements while trying to work or perform tasks, they are often rewarded with increased concentration and focus. Movement and sensory input engages both sides of the brain, which can be incredibly helpful for some people when learning or carrying out tasks. Fidgeting offers breaks which can be necessary for boosting focus and productivity when you come back to the task.
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Top 10 Fidget Toys for 2022
This is the OG fidget spinner and no doubt we all saw them explode on to school playgrounds and classrooms a few years ago. It is suitable for children of all ages, with even basic ones being available for toddlers. It's a no-noise, easy-to-use fidget toy which can be made even more sensory-pleasing with various LED's and themes to its design.
Another extremely popular fidget are pop-its. They are FANTASTIC and I personally use them when I am deep in thought or need something to fiddle with when I'm on the phone. They provide a great tactile input and can also be used for SO many different learning activities.
I love a stress ball, and they've evolved a lot from the foamy ones that I had as a child. They provide a lovely tactile sensation, with some of them now including jelly-like balls that can poke through a net. These are extremely useful for children with anxiety, ADHD and autism, especially when they feel anxious or frustrated. Sometimes, for children with anger difficulties, you can allow them to throw these stress balls at walls or the floor to help express themselves.
These are great and accessible for children from as young as 1. They come in a wide variety of colours and shapes, which can also make them a good resource for teaching early concepts. With children being able to squeeze them and feel the beads move through their fingers without getting messy, this can provide a very calming sensation which can aid emotional regulation and concentration.
I highly recommend either buying or making a glitter wand! They provide hours of fun when the children turn over the glitter wand and watch the cascading shapes sparkle, swirl and float around the clear tube. The wands provide a gentle visual and tactile stimulation which can help children calm down, relax and improve their concentration and focus. You can learn how to make a glitter wand here.
These are originally a Montessori toy, and you can often find them in Montessori nurseries along with busy boards. The use of the busy board or busy cube is to exercise the child's early hands-on ability, cultivate the ability to adapt to early daily life, enhance the child's learning ability and coordination ability.
You either love or hate slime and it is one that has the propensity to get a bit messy, but with some slime rules, it can be a very engaging and rewarding sensory toy for children! Slime, like most fidget toys, has grown rapidly and now comes in many textures, scents, colours and even comes with mini toy charms.
Similar to stress balls, spike balls are slightly harder and obviously have spikes on the outside. This provides additional sensory input for those who need it and can also be used as a massage ball for those who enjoy deep pressure, especially when anxious or upset. They can also have flashing LED lights inside, so for those who like visual input.
With tangle toys children can twist them in each direction, take them apart, manipulate finger sensory toys into different shapes to focus, and it will all relieve your stress. They are designed to be taken apart and put back together, and with visually stimulating colours, they are engaging for when a child needs some down time and the twisting function is great as a fidget when they need to concentrate.
These are soft, stretchy and squishy noodles - but not sticky! They can be squeezed, twisted, tied into knots or just generally fiddled around with. I like to play with these when I have to concentrate on something for an extended period of time or if I am trying to think deeply.