A positive spin on maths

Selwyn Ridge School pupils Elliot Drewe, 9, Neisha Hitchcock, 9, Hunter Mickleson, 9, Sam Mitchell, 9, Finn Krauts, 9, and Blair Warn, 9, with their fidget spinners. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

While schools around the country are banning fidget spinners, one Tauranga school is putting a positive spin on the craze.

The fidget spinner – a bearing in the centre of a three-pronged device held by two fingers and spun – is the hottest toy in town at the moment and many New Zealand schools are banning the toys driving teachers to distraction.

The device was originally designed as a therapeutic tool for children with autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but has stormed the country with many stores, including those in Tauranga, struggling to keep up with demand.

At Selwyn Ridge School in Welcome Bay, rather than ban the toy, teachers are encouraging students to bring them to class to assist with their maths learning.

“Rather than treating them as another thing to deal with we thought we could embrace them and use them as a learning tool. We hope that by using them in a controlled way for a while, then the students would be happy to have them away at other times,” says Year 5 teacher Charlotte de Jong.

Students are given basic facts maths challenges that they can do in a competitive/game activity using their fidget spinners.

“After playing a few that we give them, then the hope is that they will be able to design their own learning tool/activity that others can play to reinforce maths basic facts,” says Charlotte.

“The fidget spinners can also be used as a timing tool – spin it and see how many times you can write your spelling words down before it stops.”

Charlotte says while there are concerns about the distraction factor and children having the toys taken from them in the playground, they wanted to solve the problem together with the children.

A similar approach was taken at the school last year when Pokemon trading cards were all the rage. A Pokemon Club was formed, allowing students to bring their cards to school once a week for trading in a supportive environment.

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