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Fidget to Pay Attention

Distracted? Not Paying Attention?

Is there anyone alive who hasn’t been admonished to pay attention? We’re all prone to distraction. When we’re absentminded, daydreaming, or preoccupied, our minds are miles away. We’re not alert and observant, not on the ball. That can be deadly. Think of the consequences of texting while driving. Fortunately most inattentive moments are not that disastrous.

Even so, getting the most from any activity requires being engaged. Many children and adults aren’t wired to sit still and pay attention. They’re restless, as if they actually have ants in their pants. Their constant squirming prevents them from focusing. Impedes their learning. And ultimately causes disruption. Finding ways to cope is critical.

Counter Intuitive Solution

The solution is counter intuitive for those of us who recall teachers scolding doodlers for not paying attention. By doodling the student was actually self-regulating. Having discovered a way to calm her ants, the doodler could listen and learn.

That’s the key. Figuring out ways to convert restlessness into controlled movement enhances focus. The sensory input of the activity enables self-regulation. We can pay attention. But that’s only half of its benefit. The motion itself involves crossing the midline, the imaginary line bisecting the body from top to bottom. The two hemispheres of the brain are connected by the corpus callosum, the site of the largest concentration of white matter in the brain. This white matter facilitates communication between the hemispheres. What we learn crosses the midline and gets disseminated throughout the brain. Consequently learning improves.

Fidget Toys

Fidget toys are an easy way for kids and adults alike to redirect their restlessness into controlled movement. Think stress balls. Transferring the ball from hand to hand. Squeezing. Pressing down with the palm and rolling the ball back and forth on a flat surface. Flattening the ball. All these activities involve controlled movement and relieve stress, making paying attention easier.

Stress Balls for All Situations

Some stress balls are smooth, others spiky. Some light up. Still others make a sound. What works best depends on individual preference and the situation. Sensory seekers prefer the tactile input of a spiky ball. The most tactilely defensive may dislike the feel of all of the balls. In a classroom or a meeting, a light-up or sound ball could be a distraction to others. One is never enough. Best to have multiples and keep one handy in all the places you’ll likely to need one. What’s your favorite?

Smooth and squeezable, Bead Ball and DNA Ball are quiet stress balls. 

Glitter Bead Ball makes a soft crunching sound, reminiscent of walking on hard packed snow.

Light Up DNA Ball and Flashing Spiky Ball are all about flashing light. Light Up DNA is smooth, soft, and squeezable. Flashing Spiky features soft spikes and flashes when bounced or whacked against a flat surface.

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play



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Top 7 Light Up Toys

Light up toys are our best sellers. Some are simple, others are more complex. All immediately grab our attention. Spellbound, we focus intently on the lights. Waiting expectantly to see what comes next. While watching, we’re so absorbed in the moment that we forget our worries.  As a result, our mood improves. Beyond that, our bodies relax and our minds calm.  Which is what makes light up toys such effective distraction toys. As well as why making time to play is good for the body and good for the brain.

Beyond those benefits,  light up toys help children develop skills. Not only by reenforcing their emerging  understanding cause and effect but also by improving their fine motor skills. In addition, following the movement of the lights strengthens visual tracking skills. Universally appealing, light up toys delight both the young and the young at heart. Starting at number 7, here’s our take on what makes each of these light up toys a winner. Sales determined the order of the best light up toys.

Going Swing

Seventh place goes to Going Swing which changes color with a squeeze of the hand. Move through seven constant colors: blue, green, red, purple, cyan, yellow, and white to slow, then fast pulsing color bursts. Shock resistant polycarbonate core features a removable, ribbed, thermoplastic cover that provides slip resistant tactile stimulation. Going Swing comes with a detachable lanyard for wearing and swinging. Imagine calling your posse together and creating dazzling light shows. Simply by dancing, prancing, and waving Going Swings. Then use your smart phone to capture the spontaneous celebration of light and movement.



Light Up Whirly Wheel

Number six, Light Up Whirly Wheel, demonstrates how something old can become new again with the addition of lights. Experience centrifugal forces first hand. Tip Whirly Wheel up and down by its handle to make the wheel spin. Spinning creates the rainbow light effect, The faster the wheel spins, the brighter the light display. High quality magnets keep the wheel spinning smoothly along metal rails. Drop the wheel onto the floor, and watch the top spin like crazy! Not only develops visual tracking skills but also improves fine motor skills and wrist rotation. Measures 12″ long.



 Going Magic Light Ball

Fifth place belongs to Going Magic Light Ball. This 2 3/4-inch diameter ball changes color with a squeeze of the hand. Squeeze  through seven colors – blue, green, red, purple, cyan, yellow, and white plus three light modes – constant color, slow, and fast pulsing. Know how to juggle? Going Magic Light Ball is ideal for creating dazzling, mesmerizing light shows. The shock resistant polycarbonate core is clad in a removable, ribbed, thermoplastic cover that provides slip resistant tactile stimulation.



Flashing Spiky Ball

In fourth place is the sensory and simply delightful Flashing Spiky Ball. Bounce or whack on a hard  surface to activate the colored flashing lights inside this 2 1/2″ diameter malleable, spiky ball. The soft spikes provide sensory input that many children and adults find calming.



Light Up DNA Ball

Number three is the ultra smooth, soft, flexible, thermoplastic, elastomer Light Up DNA BallFilled with soft, translucent mini spheres in assorted bright pastels and a LED ball that lights up when squeezed. In addition to relieving stress, squeezing  improves flexibility and strengthens the muscles in fingers and hand.



Mini Meteor Storm

Runner-up to the coveted first place position is a miniature spinning light show on a break-away cord. Mini Meteor Storm hums softly and gently vibrates while spinning. Press and hold on/off switch keeps child engaged and re-enforces an emerging understanding of cause and effect. Measures 4″ tall. Worn as a necklace, Mini Meteor Storm provides instant distraction on demand.



Meteor Storm

At the top of light up toys is Meteor Storm. A spinning ring of 10 lights creates ever-changing, multi-colored light patterns inside a clear globe. Steady hum and gentle vibration add auditory and tactile input for a multi-sensory experience. Touch and hold on/off button teaches cause and effect and keeps child engaged. Measures 8″ tall. Meteor Storm is the ultimate distraction toy and a consistent motivator. Teachers of the visually impaired report students so eager to earn play time with a Meteor Storm that they readily “get down to business” and complete their assignments promptly. And, of course, Meteor Storm is a great antidote to a grey day or a dark night.


  1. PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play