Fidget Objects

The idea of having a basket of "fidget objects" available during session activities comes from Sally Patton, author, workshop leader and advocate for children with special needs. It is a simple, inexpensive way to include and welcome children who find it difficult to sit still or who learn better while moving.

Provide a basket for fidget objects. Fill it with pipe cleaners, koosh balls, and other quiet, manipulable objects.

When you introduce the fidget object basket to the group, begin by saying that some people learn best when their hands are busy. Give an example such as someone who knits while listening to a radio program or doodles during a meeting or class. Point out the fidget object basket. Tell the children they may quietly help themselves to items they may wish to use to keep their hands busy if this helps them to listen. However, also tell the children that the fidget object basket will be put away if the items become a distraction from the story or any other group activity.

You can make the basket available for the duration of the session, or bring the basket out only during activities, such as hearing a story told, that require children to sit still and listen for a significant period of time.

Buddhist approaches to moral dilemmas are well represented in Buddhist story collections for children, including:

Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents by Sarah Conover (Boston: Skinner House, 2010)

Zen Shorts by Jon Muth (New York: Scholastic Press, 2006). A short collection of stories adapted for young listeners

The Three Questions by Jon Muth (New York: Scholastic Press, 2002). This story for younger children is particularly appropriate for younger children learning about what it means to act for goodness and justice.

One Hand Clapping: Zen Stories for All Ages by Rafe Martin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. 1995).

Robert Coles and Sam Goldstein's book, Raising Resilient Children (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 2001) gives guidance on developing social conscience in children.

For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.