I have a class currently who often need some help to sit quietly and listen. Sitting still for any length of time, either at desks or on the carpet can be very challenging for many in this group. As a teacher, I understand it is challenging to sit still and listen. I have gum, or snacks in meetings or sit and doodle if they are long. Do I have ADHD… who knows but I do know fidgeting helps me listen. Fidgets seemed like a good aid to introduce to help those struggling to sit still and listen.

Here are some of the fidgets we offered:

Textured Bean BagsTextured Bean Bags come in a variety of textures and a great price for a set of 12. The six pairs have fur, flannel, wool, satin, corduroy and velour textures. Great for promoting sensory skills. Machine washable and dryable. The white furry ones are my favourite.

DNA Balls

DNA Balls are filled with mini spheres in hot neon colours. The multi coloured balls form a different mosaic pattern after every squeeze. It’s visual, tactile and irresistible.

Therapy Relax Tangle

Tangle Therapy is made to maximize hand, joint and muscle motion while providing a one of a kind feel and action. The soft pliable rubber coating and distinctive raised tactile nodes give a relaxing sensation while twisting it in your hand.

Clear Sensory Balls

Clear Sensory balls with bright colourful pellets inside. They make a satisfying gentle sound when being played with.

Scoop Rocker - Set of 6

The alternative seating we implemented a few months ago is also helping students focus. Reminders about  the need to respect the seating are needed ongoing as our students change monthly and sometimes weekly or daily. I do believe giving students options and encouraging them to become aware of what works best for them, enables better choices and better learning.

Fidgets are suggested to help students with ADHD concentrate better, and considering many students in the class are already fidgety, giving them permission to fidget seemed like a good solution. The selection of fidgets were introduced with rules inspired by Mrs Parsons at The Grading Scale:

The rules were explained, translated where possible and are reinforced daily. Every student wanted a fidget initially but after a few days the novelty wore off and some students declined. Using fidgets is not always smooth as new students are unfamiliar with the expectations of how to use it without distracting others however I believe the benefits out weigh the teaching effort needed.

Yesterday we had a break through. A student was struggling to sit still during an activity where he was writing and colouring. The lead teacher gave him a fidget and said “I think you need this for a little while”. He sat down, coloured while playing with the fidget in his other hand and worked peacefully. Ten minutes later he returned the fidget to the teachers and said “thank you”. This was a huge step for us in class 2. Having a student recognize when they need help to self regulate is what we are aiming for. In this case the student identified that he no longer needed the help, the fidget had worked to calm his body and help him achieve his goal of finishing his task.

I do not know if any of my students have ADHD nor do I need to know. I only know what they bring to the classroom and that is usually apprehension, experience of trauma, excitement and a drive to learn. I hope that I can begin to help them settle into a life in Canada and prepare them for the Canadian school system in the short time they are with us at NEEDS. This is a wonderful reminder for us all as educators:

Bill of Rights for Misunderstood Kids

Bill of Rights for Children with ADD

Please teach me through my sense of touch. I need “hands-on” and body movement.

Please give me a structured environment where there is a dependable routine. Give me an advance warning if there will be changes.

Please allow me to go at my own pace. If I’m rushed, I get confused and upset.

Please offer me options for problem solving. If the road is blocked, I need to know the detours.

Please give me rich and immediate feedback on how I’m doing.

Please remind me to stop, think, and act.

Please give me short work periods with short-term goals.

Please don’t say “I already told you that.” Tell me again, in different words. Give me a signal. Draw me a symbol.

Please give me praise for partial success. Reward me for self-improvement, not just for perfection.

Please catch me doing something right and praise me for the specific positive behavior. Remind me–and yourself–about my good points when I’m having a bad day.

{Author Unknown}

(Discovered in Jan Zeiger’s article in TeachersNet.Gazette and taken from


All About Me Activity Cards in Action

I have used All About Me Family Counters for a few years. They are the go to, grab and go activity as all three of my children now play with them, in different ways.

All About Me Family Counters

Here you can see how we have played with them in the past: Fun with Family Counters.Fun with Family Counters

I did have a male ECE correct my stereotyping as I displayed them with the baby on the Mama’s hip and have successfully balanced the baby on the Papa’s hip also!

These counters are the perfect size for dramatic play/restaurant waiting/older sibling activity waiting, and of course for their original design: math concept teaching!

Here you can see the All About Me Family Counters in use with the NEW All About Me Activity Cards in my classroom.

All About Me Activity Cards in Action

The students are watching a demonstration of how to continue a sequence, such as the purple, blue, purple, blue, you can see in the bottom left of the photo. They are also reinforcing characteristic description such as “smaller”, “boy”, colours and patterning.

All About Me Action Cards

Here we have the wonderful sequence and a person riding a cat… why not?

All About Me Activity Cards

Adding: person and cat style! Our next step is to use the formal written number which some of these students are still learning (we were reinforcing the subtraction with finger counting here!).

All about me activity cards

Adding in action!

The structure of these cards allows for group work and discussion as we did here but also for independent and gradual skill building. They are an awesome addition to the math resource collection.

All About Me Activity Cards

Here is the low down on the All About Me Activity Cards:

Help children learn essential early math skills while learning about themselves and the world around them with 20 double-sided, write & wipe Activity Cards. Illustrations on these full-colour Activity Cards match the actual size of the All About Me Family Counters (202090) and are perfect for developing patterning, early addition and subtraction, and sorting skills. Includes over 40 activities and a guide. PreK+. Ages 5+.



Jumbo Number Pebbles and Halloween Fun

We borrowed these Jumbo Number Pebbles to play with a few days ago.

Jumbo Number Pebbles

They are lovely to lift and play with, feeling like real pebbles. As with all our pebbles, they are made from a unique stone mix, engraved and painted. The numbers just have to be felt and traced with your finger as you hold them!


Daisy has a wonderful natural teaching ability and began matching the numbers with the Halloween rubbish (I mean… toys). She was counting in French as she was doing it and encouraging Rose to join in.

Jumbo number pebbles

She then organised the snakes and spiders around the number.

Jumbo number pebbles

Fred on the other hand took pleasure in banging them together with force so they made a satisfying clunk! Each to their own.

Jumbo Number pebbles

Ten scary Halloween things.

As you can see the Jumbo Number Pebbles are strong, like pebbles really. They are open ended, always a favourite in our house, and can be used in many ways. They would be perfect in the sand tray or water table and can be used indoors or outdoors. The sorting, transporting and game options are endless and with two of each number there are plenty to share.

If you like these Jumbo Number Pebbles you may also like:




Lego and Duplo

So I have great memories of playing with Lego as a child and it always involved building something for people to use. A structure alone was never enough, it had to be usable by people. My children are similar, most things they build have a use for the people whether they are Duplo people or Lego people or random ‘small world play’ people.

We only got Lego in the house on Daisy’s 6th birthday, nearly a year ago. Yes, I know this is a crime to some people, especially parents with boys but she had not shown any interest in Lego before that. Things have changed now. Rose received lots of Duplo at Christmas time and both the Duplo and Lego have prime position in our living room.

Lego and Duplo

Here Rose is making a hotel for her Duplo people.

I did start to wonder what all the fuss was with Lego and Duplo and did a little research. Here is what I found out:

Benefits of playing with Lego and Duplo

  • Creativity: the most obvious choice for me, hours and hours of open ended play with only the imagination as the limit.
  • Planning and Problem solving skills: these are developed as children realise a plan in their heads and work towards making it a reality
  • Math skills: sorting bricks, finding the correct size brick, thinking in 3D, patterning and proportions, measuring and counting are all part of Lego play.
  • Fine motor skills: building and separating bricks takes great dexterity as anyone who has played with Lego knows. (I do want to get my hands on a brick separator!)
  • Ability to follow directions: if you use the kits and instructions (we don’t tend to)

While I understand the appeal of individual kits with set instructions to build a certain project, I prefer the open endedness of these type of kits:

Lego Explore Basic Bulk

The Lego Duplo Explore Basic Bulk

Lego Brick Set

Lego Brick Set

You can then add base plates and themes kits if you want.

Lego and Duplo

A house, complete with chairs, plants and windows.

Lego and Duplo

Look, a hippo!

Lego and Duplo

This impressive construction is a movie theater Uncle Andy helped build. It was played with for weeks!

The play is never ending as are the opportunities to tie play into current learning themes!

I am a re-enthused  Lego and Duplo fan!

Read more:


Texo Play

“Texo”, Latin for weave, twine together, plait, construct, build, is a toy that grows with children.

The flowers got the chance to play with the 65 piece set and were excited:

Texo Play

We eagerly explored the many different components of the set including solid wood planks, plastic molded connectors “stars”  and plastic rods.

Texo PlayRose began by building a tower.

Texo PlayWhile Daisy explored the connectors, which they named “stars”, fascinated with how they fitted together.

Texo PlayRose moved into stacking and size ordering with the wooden planks.

Texo PlayWhile Daisy joined the rods and connectors and decided how to incorporate the wooden planks.

She was hesitant to use the activity guide and wanted to freely construct.

Texo PlayAnd when you are not sure how to use your creation… wear it as a necklace!

Texo PlayRose created a forest of what was initially trees and became flowers. The bouquet was later given to me and my husband with “Happy Valentine’s Day” sentiments.

She was able to combine the parts but needed help to take them apart again.

Texo PlayWhile the girls play I tend to do something near by. If I watch too closely I am tempted to interfere, give unneeded opinions or direct play; yes I have control freak tendencies!

So I flicked through the activity guide while listening and watching their play. The guide explained the creator Lester Walker’s intention to provide a toy which grows in complexity as a child grows. As they gradually learn to play with the components in a more complex manner they are exploring concepts of architecture, design and engineering.

Basic construction is illustrated , moving onto simple builds and then more complex builds.

We thoroughly enjoyed playing with this construction set from Quality Classrooms.


How will you play with Texo?

An Avalanche of Fruit #Giveaway

Daisy has been commenting that she misses the Super Sorting Pie that she got to play with a year ago.

So I figured it was time to let them have a play with another fruit game, Avalanche Fruit Stand this time.

Avalanche Fruit Stand

The object of the game is to be the first player to collect one of each type of fruit. As is typical for us, we just started playing and made up the rules as we played.

An Avalanche of Fruit

The games comes with:

  • 2 Easy Grip Tweezers
  • 40 Pieces of Fruit
  • Fruit Stand Game Board
  • Spinner

An Avalanche of Fruit

If you are a stickler for the rules, they are printed on the back of the fruit stand and so, easy to read at any time. They are also difficult to lose, game parts vanishing is a frequent occurrence in our house.

An Avalanche of Fruit

We set up the fruit on the stand and began to play. The spinner tells you what to fruit to pick; colour, number or the star, which means you can steal from another player (that part we did read). The game is fast paced and short, perfect for younger players.

Our cat got in on the action too but his aim was to knock the stand over!

An Avalanche of Fruit

Although this game is recommended for children over the age of three, Rose enjoyed playing too. Her wee hands only coped with the tweezers for a few minutes but what a great way to build up muscle power in the hands. We have a couple of these tweezers at home and play with them often.

We will be back next week to tell you about how we played with the fruit pieces.

If you would like to play with this Avalanche Fruit Stand game all you need to do is one of the following:

Before Friday 19th April 2013, 4pm Central Time.

This contest is open to Canadian residents only.

Looking forward to hearing from you and good luck!

Magnetic Mightymind Fun #Giveaway

Occasionally we need activities that are totally independent and Mightymind fits the gap perfectly.

The first cards explain exactly what is needed and require the child to place the needed tiles on the speech bubble. They then decide how to make a shape using the chosen tiles.


Here Daisy is beginning at the card labelled clearly with a 1. She could read numbers at this point but for prereaders I would have the cards in order so they could work their way through in a logical sequence.


The next puzzle had an option; choose a yellow square or two yellow rectangles.


And make a larger rectangle.


The puzzles are getting more complicated. Required tiles are still needed in the speech bubble but more problem solving is needed.


As the cards progressed, the puzzles became more challenging and the speech bubbles disppeared so Daisy had to chose the tiles heself.


Free form desgn on the fridge was also fun.

Mightymind is a problem solving geometric activity which is beautifully set up to gradually release responsiblily and encourage independent thinking. It is a puzzle that Daisy continues to come back to although she is now ready to move unto the challenge of Magnetic Supermind she still enjoys Mightymind.

The 30 puzzle boards are made from sturdy card and have no language, pefect for prereaders.

If you would like to play with this great Mightyminds set all you need to do is one of the following:

Before Monday 25th February 2013, 4pm Central Time.

This contest is open to Canadian residents only.

Looking forward to hearing from you and good luck!