Has a fidget spinner made your eye twitch yet? I know many classroom teachers who have become frustrated with the little whirring spinners brought into their classroom and many parents who want to chunk them out the window of a moving car. After hearing all the buzz about these toys, I decided to get one (for research of course).
I must admit, when I ripped it out of the package, I wasn't sure about my new lime green fidget spinner. Was I buying into the craze? Was I giving in? Should I be anti-spinner because most other educators seemed to be? I thought surely there would be some redeeming qualities to this toy. Just like anything else, if used correctly it could be a positive thing.
After playing with my spinner for a few days, spinning it while reading, spinning it while watching TV, spinning it while thinking, I had a better idea of how these little plastic toys were driving teachers and parents crazy. The spinner is loud, and for me at least, highly addictive. When researching the spinners, it seems like the verdict is still out as to whether they help or hurt students with ADHD and anxiety as they are marketed to do.
One thing was clear to me after my little spinner experiment. Though spinners might not be the best to take to class or use when around others who are trying to concentrate, they can still be used for super fun learning at home. The fact is, spinners are fun, kids are super into them, and we should embrace all the excitement. So here are a few super fun ways to encourage your child to learn at home while using their spinner.
Beat the spinner
Have your child spin the spinner as fast as they can, either in their hand or on a table. Challenge your child to recite or write as many math facts as they can before the spinner stops.
You can find math fact worksheets that use spinners in this way on this blog.
Do tricks and improve strength and coordination
Fidget spinners require use of the writing fingers. Strengthening these muscles can have a great impact on handwriting, especially for younger students. Encourage your child to try spinning the spinner in different ways.
I must admit that I may have watched a few videos and tried to do a few spinner tricks. They are difficult, and require quite a bit of coordination. The movement and coordination that goes into doing spinner tricks can help develop your child's physical and mental skills. (Maybe encourage the tricks outside though...I almost broke something trying to do some more advanced ones!)
Use it for games
Use the spinner as a game spinner. You can attach an arrow to one of the arms of the spinner, set it on a paper, and spin it to choose different options. One of my favorite examples of this is a summer chore chart that a savvy parent made spinner friendly.
I created a couple of paper mats to encourage students to practice their 2's and 5's addition facts. Click this link to download (no email required). I also created a blank mat that you can customize for your child. Click this link to download the blank mat (no email required).
Conduct an experiment
If your child is REALLY into spinners and has a few different kinds you can encourage your child to use the spinners for an experiment. Test to see which spinner spins the longest. Have your child come up with questions about the spinners and then test them out. If you want to take it a step further you can even encourage your child to create charts or a write up of their findings.
Want more information about using fidget spinners for education? Check out the interview I did with Safe, Smart & Social!
What is your favorite way to use fidget spinners? Has your child come up with any unique uses for the spinner yet?
Does your child need some extra engaging personalized support this school year? I would love to help them reach their full potential in the classroom. Click here to schedule your free online tutoring trial session.