Fidget spinners - small palm sized toys that are taking over playgrounds and parks across the world, come with a ball bearing in the center and spin at the flick of a finger. These once hardly heard of toys (or tools, depending on who you ask) are becoming increasing popular, and not just with kids. The hand spinners are so popular that different versions of the toy currently make up all of Amazon’s top 20 best sellers in the toys and games category, according to Time. The choice of different types of stress relief toys seems almost endless with different colors, different styles, different materials, and even different prices. Some fidget spinners glow in the dark, some light up, some make sounds, but they all have one thing in common. Everybody seems to love them.
Spinners are a simple mechanical gadget with a bearing in the middle that allows them to spin. That is what’s so great about hand spinners - their simplicity. Nothing fancy, just something to play with, something to keep the hands busy, something to help focus the mind, something to help you relax, and something that you can create crazy tricks with as well.
Just a few short months ago, most adults had no idea what a fidget toy was. Today, adults, children, and even seniors are using these fidget toys daily! Every year, new toy fads come and go; however, fidget spinners are sweeping the nation and this fad doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
Image: Google Searches for Fidget Spinners skyrocketed in April, 2017
Fidget Spinners Helping with Mental Disorders and Concentration
Stress, anxiety, ADHD, and depression can make it hard for adults and children alike to concentrate. Fidget spinners were actually created for this very purpose! These spinning toys are currently a fad among children just having fun, but they were actually created to help alleviate stress and deal with mental anxiety back in the 1990’s. According to NewsWeek, some experts claim that stress toys are not helpful. However, other experts tout the benefits of working something with your hands can do for your well-being. Anxiety can make you feel like situations are beyond your control when they actually are not. Focusing on something small can help people with mental issues (anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc.) realize that some issues are insignificant and they can deal with them. Dr. Trelles MD from the Icahn School of Medicine spoke with Health.com. According to Dr. Trelles, “when someone is hypersensitive to the environment they might bite their nails, pull at their cuticles, or pinch their skin. Fidget spinners offer a less harmful way to expend that nervous energy.”
The article goes on to talk about a study done about patients who received surgery and who squeezed a stress ball. Their anxiety was lowered and so was their pain. Some might say that it was a placebo effect, but does it really matter? If pain and anxiety are reduced by using stress toys during surgery then why wouldn’t a fidget toy be beneficial? When it comes right down to it, having any of these issues can be difficult for others to understand as well as difficult to control. Any form of help to keep these issues at bay or easier to deal with is a good idea – especially when you can purchase many of them for only a few dollars. In fact, many people are buying multiple handspinners and putting them in their bags, cars, houses, and in their offices. With the many different varieties available, it’s possible to start a pretty amazing collection.
Image: Collection of fidget spinners
Spinner Toys as Sensory Toys
For years, occupational therapists and experts have been saying that sensory toys are exactly what children with autism or ADHD need. By providing a tactile or visual stimulation, it helps the child (or adult, as we learn more about Adult ADHD) concentrate better. Autism toys have long been proven to work in calming children down or providing them with just the right amount of ‘fidget power’ that they need to concentrate on where their minds need to be. Weighted blankets that provide comfort, jingle balls, squishy balls, chains that can be worked through the fingers, and even flashing light bracelets have all been sensory toys that experts agree work well for children on the autistic spectrum and for children with ADHD.
A study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology took a close look at 8 to 12 year old children who were diagnosed with ADHD. They found that the participants who engaged in a motor activity, meaning those who moved their limbs or large parts of their body, performed better than those who had to sit still during memory tasks. Today, fidget spinners are the hottest autism toy available and are working wonders for those who struggle with ADHD. Because the movement of the sensory toy increases activity in the frontal brain area, attention spans can be sustained longer.
Some may argue that they are more of a distraction than they are a tool to be used, but until you struggle with a child on the spectrum or you struggle with paying attention yourself and use a hand spinner to help you pay attention, you may never know. For those that it helps, we say have at it. For those that it doesn’t, we say read on for fun things to do with your fidget toy that has nothing to do with your attention span.
Tricks with Fidget Spinners
Even though they were originally marketed as stress relief toys, fidget spinners are pretty neat and have a lot of neat (and some quite complicated!) tricks that can be done with them. Tricks such as the Reverse Sonic have a lot to do with hand eye coordination – which is something a developing mind needs.
Tricks range in levels from easy, medium, and hard. You can even do multiple tricks at a time to impress your friends or even entertain yourself for a short period of time. There are new YouTube videos being posted daily as people learn more tricks, so keep an eye out for new ways to play with your hand spinners.
In the meantime, here is a list of epic tricks to try and master.
Trick Name: The Convertible
Difficulty Level: Easy
What to Do: This will be one of the first tricks you will learn with your fidget spinner since it is so basic. Simply start by spinning the fidget using your thumb and middle finger. Keeping your thumb on the top, slowly release your thumb and balance the spinner on your middle finger.
Trick Name: The Change-Up
Difficulty Level: Easy
What to Do: This trick involves a little more skill than the last but it is still an easier level trick. Start by spinning the fidget using your thumb and index finger. Next, toss it into the air, then attempt to catch the spinner with your thumb and index finger on your opposite hand. Do so without having the fidget stop spinning, repeat, and you have the trick down!
Trick Name: The X-tetrad Leapfrog
Difficulty Level: Medium
What to Do: The convertible is a medium level trick, so if you happen to not get this one down right away, keep trying. After all, practice makes perfect. To do this trick, put the fidget spinner on your index finger. Next, toss it into the air and catch it with your middle finger. Keep it going until you reach your pinky finger-that’s the convertible.
Trick Name: The 9-Fingered Death Punch
Difficulty Level: Hard
What to Do: The 9-Fingered Death Punch is a hard trick, so this one may take a bit of time to fully master. But master it you can! To do this trick, perform the X-tetrad Leapfrog and get the fidget on your pinky, finishing the trick. Then toss it into the air and catch the spinner with your index finger, then simply repeat the X-tetrad Leapfrog.
These are just a small sampling of tricks; there are dozens upon dozens of videos that show how to perform different tricks using your fidget toy. When you feel that you have mastered tricks with your hand spinner, move on to two fidget spinners at one time and start at the easy level again. For instance, try the convertible using both hands. Can you keep both spinners going? Or can you perform The Change Up using two spinners, one of each hand? Create and upload your own YouTube video when you have mastered these tricks and show off your Pro-Fidgeter skills!
Learning with Fidget Spinners
Some teachers are including these toys into their class lessons! Education with fidget spinners is really a genius idea. As Erintegration said, “put a positive spin on it!” If the kids are going to be bringing fidget toys to class, at least they can be used for productivity and learning. The lesson at the link above helps teach students how to collect data and use critical thinking using a scientific method. And of course, their fidget spinners. Education with hand spinners? We’ll take it! Still, classroom distractions or interruptions can be solved by setting rules and boundaries on the use of spinners.
As toy spinners become increasingly popular, creative people, old and young alike, are coming up with ways to make the simple toy more complex, more fun, and more versatile. Like this board game, created by parents who wanted their child to have fun with their spinner toy, but also learn strategy at the same time. Namesakedesign created Spin it! This spinner toy game involves spinning the fidget on a color wheel to determine where a player can move to win the game. The children added their own ‘spin’ on the game by adding challenges, such as spin the spinner with your non-dominant hand.
Fidget toys in the classroom have become quite popular. So popular in fact, that many teachers are creating worksheets that incorporate the use of the spinners. On one education site, Teachers Pay Teachers, there is a mathematics game involving fidget spinners called Math Fact Spinners! This game involves multiplication, addition, subtraction, and a blank sheet to add your own mathematic equations! There is also a score-sheet so players can keep their scores accurate. This same website also has numerous STEM Challenge printable, writing prompts, sight word games, and more. Learning with fidget spinners seems to be how many teachers are choosing to combat the spinning toy distractions in their classrooms and we expect to see an increase in the amount of educational games and worksheets that incorporate the hand spinners.
Fun Games to Play with Fidget Spinners
Besides doing tricks or learning with your fidget, there are some fun games you can play with your spinners as well. Although there aren’t a ton of "just for fun” games right now, they are on the rise. The channels FUNnel Vision and Evan Tube Gaming on YouTube shows off some of the neat options for the games. Some of the more popular games include Fidget Spinner Football, Fidget Beyblades, and Spinners vs. Monsters. These games are quickly becoming popular among friends and in offices. But get creative and create your own game. You never know, it might become the next best thing or go viral! You can also create some challenges for you and your friends to perform together. Who doesn’t like some friendly competition? Challenge ideas could include standing on one foot while spinning the fidget spinner on your finger for 30 seconds. Or, keeping the hand spinner spinning and passing it to a friend’s finger. We see some new Minute to Win It ideas in the making!
Fidget Spinners have been a major fad that has been growing throughout the world. Fidget Spinners can be a very positive creation! Use fidgets to decrease mental disorders or issues that have a negative impact on your life. Reduce stress levels, deal with anxiety, use as a sensory toy, create fun games, use as a learning tool, or invent tricks (and then create your own YouTube video to teach others how to do it too!).