Monday, July 17, 2017

Part 1: DIY fidgets (Fidgets are not your enemies...except when they are)

This is a follow-up post to my original post about turning my classroom into an OT sensory experiment.  Read the original post here.  

Click here for How To Implement and CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT
Of course you hate them.  But they are not your enemy!

Overall, the experiment was successful for me and my kids.  I started adding fidgets and sensory supports to my class BEFORE fidget spinners hit the market, so I was well prepared to deal with that wave of nonsense.

Why Fidgets:  "Fair is not Equal." 

I am not going to go into the "why" too much. If you read my original post, I go into it probably deeper than I should. Suffice it to say that I am totally sensory seeking, and many kids are too.  Have you seen that kid who constantly runs his fingers through his hair?  Or the girl whose leg will not stop knocking into something?  Or the kid who chews the end of his pen and pencil so bad his gums occasionally bleed?  Those are the extremes, but everyone benefits from learning how they learn. If I can help them learn better, feel calmer, feel better, than that's why.

smooth     pokey      soft      heavy     textured    fuzzy    hard (solid)      squishy    interesting   heavy
These are the adjectives you want to keep in mind when looking for fidgets.

Where/How Much
Take your huge budget of $30.00 or so and head to the dollar store.  A slightly more expensive option is a party supply store.  In Utah, Dollar Tree and Zurchers are the places.  Family Dollar does not usually have what I am looking for.

Look for things that are interesting to touch but small enough to fit in a hand.  Dog and cat toys are very popular with my kids, as are items from the bathroom section- the little massager roller is a favorite for pokey and solid.  Squishy toys, legos, and stuffed animals are all favorites too.  Get some, remove anything that can be removed, and see what they like!

Special considerations: 
Remove the keychain part! 
*Special note for chewies* I keep coil type keychains (with the metal part removed) in labelled zip lock bags for the kids who need them or bring them in.  (No one else gets to touch them.  How gross!)   A search on Amazon for chewies will bring up very expensive special chewies, which are great to recommend to parents but are not in my budget.

 Things break:  Some great squishy toys are also prone to breaking when put in a middle schooler's hand. thoughtful.  Take apart anything that can be taken apart.  Of course, if they break it, a natural consequence is that they clean it up.

DIY Chair fidgets:
Ask at your local bike shop for used tubes. (Those are the tubes that go inside bike tires.)  They are surely going to be free.  Cut off the pokey bit (the valve stem) and wrap one end of the tube around one front leg of a student chair.  Tie a simple square knot.  Pull it fairly tight across the front of the chair to the other front leg and tie that end in a square knot.  Cut off the excess.  Voila- you have a chair fidget that is silent and can be used, pushed up or down, and is completely free. (Or you can buy special expensive things that do exactly the same thing.)

Weight belts/Lap Belts- great for wigglers and kids who keep putting books on their heads. (This really happens.  You know it.)
1) Find kid pajama pieces at the local thrift shop, or fuzzy socks from the dollar store.  Note: it is incredibly hard to find non-gendered items, but it is worth looking!  I ended up with a Frozen PJ set, which both the boys and girls seem to love equally, and it contains almost no stereotypical symbols or colors.  
2) Purchase bulk rice and/or beans.  This is the biggest cost of the project.
3) Cut off pieces of the PJ set to make tubes (think arms, legs, right?) and sew them up at either end to make heavy tubes.  Sew them really, really, really well.

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