Creating an environment for children to be successful is a proactive approach to dealing with challenging behaviors. Many factors must be taken into consideration when setting up your classroom space and schedule.
For many, whole group situations are a challenge. Since our children are unique individuals, what works for one child, might not work for another. As teachers, we need to look past the "challenging behavior" and get to know the child. We need to know the child's interests, needs, fears, and situations that cause anxiety. We also need to know if the child has had any prior experiences with sitting in a classroom setting. This post is part of our Challenging Behavior book study. You can read more about it HERE. If you like this blog post, remember to sign up by email and check out my blog HERE.
In the book Challenging Behaviors in the Early Childhood Classroom: Preventing, Understanding, and Responding Effectively, the authors suggest that your meeting spot or whole group circle time should be in a defined space. Children that have difficulty in group time could have koosh balls or small objects to hold to help during whole group activities such as listening to a story.
ENTER THE FIDGET BOX
It can be a basket, bucket, caddy, or small decorated box. Basically, it is a container which holds items to help a child maintain attention, get sensory feedback, or for calming. I am always asked if all children need fidgets. Answer: No. Do you ever give children fidgets when they really don't need them? Answer: Yes. How do you make it fair?
I have a sensory center that includes many of the items that are in the fidget box. Children have the opportunity to touch, feel, describe, and manipulate the fidgets during other times during the day. I make everyone a fidget out of a pipe cleaner.
- Cut the pipe cleaner in half.
- Bend the ends around in a tight circle to cover the pointed ends.
- Pass out to all children.
- Let them fidget.
- Collect the fidgets and have a discussion about strategies for listening.
- Follow Griffin's Mantra for Listening Strategies.
ARE YOU READY TO CREATE A FIDGET BOX?
Ideas to remember when creating and implementing fidget boxes:
- Decide where you will put your fidget box.
- Teach the procedures for accessing fidgets.
- Teach the procedures for using fidgets.
- Create a visual cue as a reminder of using fidgets.
- Do not add new fidgets without discussing them first.
- Model, practice, role-play using fidgets.
- These fidgets should never go in children's mouths.
- If a child needs oral sensory input, consult with your speech pathologist and occupational therapist.
- Some children like pictures of their family in the box.
- Some children like a visual schedule in the box.
- There is a difference between a fidget box and a calming place.
- Some children will need a calming place instead.
If you need ideas and strategies to use in the classroom, check out my Listening Strategies for the Early Childhood Classroom.
My favorite place to shop online is Therapy Shoppe. I have been ordering from their online store for 7 years. They have a wide variety of fidgets and other sensory integration items for your students. It's also amazing for me to look through their online catalogue and see what is available for our students. Suggestions for funding? Ask. That's what I did one year. I had a classroom full of students who needed fidgets. I presented my administrator with the problem and solution. You could also consider writing a small grant. Or do as I do. Buy a couple of items every year and "grow" my fidget box.
Here are some more samples of fidgets from Amazon. Links have been provided.
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Check out these other blog posts from the Challenging Behavior Book Study: