The Original Fidget Spinner

I read a fun story the other day from the ABC affiliate up in Portland, Maine. To help elementary-aged kids focus, they are encouraging them to crochet during class. Of course, I think this is fantastic. I’ve been crafting to focus in class since high school, and it’s the only thing that got me through my late-night, 4-hour lecture courses in college.

I know the fidget toys are supposed to fill that gap, but this is so much better. Here’s the reasoning behind my bias:

  1. Crafting is less distracting to other students than fidget toys.
  2. Crafting and fidget toys both have effects on the brain that help you focus, but crafting is productive. You’ll have something to show for the time you spent doing it. This adds an extra bit of accomplishment that can improve mental health.
  3. Crafting is the original fidget spinner, which I’ve been saying for ages.

So you’d think this would be an easy choice and some kind of handcraft would be in every elementary curriculum everywhere. However, there are a lot of nay-sayers out there. I hear all the time, kids don’t have the ability to learn those skills until they’re older, kids don’t have the attention spans, or heaven-forbid the kid is a boy, and in some small minds, boys don’t craft.

Can the kid tie their shoes? The same fine motor skills required to tie shoes allow them to yarncraft. That’s why we see kids that can do it as early as age three or four, but where do they get the interest? Someone around them is doing it, and they want to do it too.

I love that people think I have this unending attention span that allows me to knit/crochet/spin. Let me tell you a secret, I have the patience I do have because I knit/crochet/spin. The same thing can happen to kids who pick up crafting, hence why they’re using it to focus elementary-school students.

And I refuse to give any more attention to that gendered nonsense.

I think the other thing people think about kids is if they pick something up and drop it, it’s done. Let’s take me, for example. I first started to knit when I was eight years old. I liked it, but it was slow-going and I had other things that were holding my interest a little bit better. Fast-forward three years to when I pick up a crochet hook for the first time. That clicked, and while we can’t know for sure, I’m positive that my experience learning how to knit made it easier for me to learn how to crochet.

Let me also talk about my pseudo-nephew Ben. He was obsessed with my spinning wheel since he could walk. When he got older, he wanted to learn how to spin. Of course, he wanted to start on the wheel, but I was the mean Emma that made him start on a drop spindle. He’d pick it up, he’d drop it for a long time, he’d pick it up again. Here he is using the spindle my dad and I made him for Christmas, made from none other than a fidget spinner.

ben with a drop spindle

And he hasn’t done it much since, but he has started messing with it without me! He has his own interest in it! And sure, he doesn’t do it much right now, but it’s a skill he could be very grateful for down the road.

So encourage kids to learn how to do some kind of craft. Obviously, every craft is not for everyone, and that’s okay. However, if crafting has all of these benefits, wouldn’t you want to give them a chance to try?

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