Slice of Life: When Fidgets go Viral

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

Every now and then, something comes along to remind you about the viral social nature of kids. This past month, it has been the Spinner Fidgets, which is a sort of three-pronged plastic object with a spinning fulcrum in the center.

One day, there was none.

The next day, they were all over the place.

It’s really strange. And then, inevitably, they become a distraction and a problem as opposed to being a stress fidget, and we have to remind our sixth graders about “toys” in school, and how some students can use fidgets but not everyone. At a staff meeting, other teachers in other grades also complained, so much that the principal promised to send a message out to the entire student population about toys and school.

We try to not give that speech to our sixth graders, for its seems a bit draconian.

We gave that speech this year, just before Spring Break.

Here’s what struck me as even odder, though. My son is a sixth grader, too, but in another school, another school district. We received an email home from his sixth grade teachers, saying they were dealing with toys in class, and they were asking us parents to remind our studeto keep those objects home, please.

Spinners? My son says, everyone has them.

What about small cans of modeling puddy clay? We saw a quick rise in those, too, and we had to talk to students about stretching and modeling clay during class-time. Sure, I support hands-on creativity but not when I am trying to get them to write.

Yep, my son said. Those little canisters are everywhere.

Then, we hosted a friend of my son who lives near the Boston area — about 3 hours away from us — and guess what? Fidgets and modeling clay are a problem there, too.

Oh, and earlier this year, it was all about flipping/spinning/juggling water bottles, trying to get them to land with perfect balance. We’re still dealing with that one, and have cleaned up more spills of water than any other year I can remember.

Kids are funny like that.

I suspect that YouTube is the cause of all of this, as funny viral videos inspire viewers into replication.

I wish there would be a catchy writing and reading video that went viral. Then, all kids everywhere would be wandering with piles of books in their arms and writer’s notebooks spilling out of their pockets. We’d let that viral moment go without a sound.

Peace (spinning)

  1. “I wish there would be a catchy writing and reading video that went viral.” Me too…..Me too.

    Those fidget toys showed up in my classroom last week and I’m baffled by them. The sad thing is though, what about the kids who really need them? I wonder what they are thinking about all of this.

    • I actually talked to one of my classes about how some students do need fidgets, and that is OK. But many who have brought them in do not, and that’s where the line sort of is. My philosophy has long been, if it helps keep you focused and is not distracting, I won’t say anything. If not, then I will. I had to.

    • Thanks for sharing this blog post, Jennifer! They also made an appearance in my class approximately 2 weeks ago. It started at 1 and has grown daily. I do feel that there is a benefit for some and for others the fad seems to be dying off, as quickly as it begun. I had a discussion with my class that if they were being used as a “tool” to promote focus/learning/stress relief, I was completely open to them. On the flipside, if they are being used as a toy, they will be mine until the last day of school. Establishing classroom expectations and following through with them, has led to few confiscations and appropriate use of the tool. It is amazing how quickly fads move across the nation and beyond!

  2. Awesome. I’m sure the tiny thing one of my students quickly tucked in his pocket as we high-fived goodbye yesterday was a spinner. I thought nothing of it. Heh. I’m guessing it’s “a thing” and I just don’t know it yet. Unfortunately for them, I know it now!

  3. Ha- soooo many miles away and I can confirm we have all the varieties of putty, but I have not seen those fidgets (yet). It is funny when those things go viral. Bottle flipping is/was a thing here too.

  4. I had to click on your Slice when I saw your titles. The spinners are driving me crazy! Ha! It IS so amazing that these things become instant hits. I’d like to get in on the cash they generate. Ha. Love your last paragraph.

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