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April 25, 2017 10:12 PM

The Fidget Frenzy

Sioux Falls, SD

By now you've probably noticed them: fidget devices, such as spinners and cubes, are becoming popular with people who like to keep their hands busy.

If it weren't for her spinner, 11-year-old Essence Smith's day in school would not go as well.

"If I didn't have it, probably get pretty mad. And so it would just kind of build up and kind of just get, start getting madder and madder," Smith said.

Only with this spinner…

"It just like starts taking away my nerves, and it just gets all my anxiety that I am having, and all of that stuff out," Smith said.

From "spinners," to "fidget cubes," to something called a "Rizzle," finding something designed to help you direct your nervous or anxious energy has gotten easier. And there are big benefits to fidgeting. Smith's teacher Amber Nieuwsma at Horace Mann Elementary in Sioux Falls even has fidget time scheduled during the day.

"I would say my first year of teaching, it was just like, very minimal use of them, just maybe some Play-Doh or putty I use," Nieuwsma said.

Since then, she's seen a spike in the selection.

"Through the past two years, more things have come about," Nieuwsma said. "All sorts of different fidgets. And I think it really just helps. It just helps them calm down when they're using them."

Fidgets have become an important learning tool in the classroom.

"We have found in, for most of our kids, they're very popular right now," Brenda Bernard, supervisor of Elementary Special Services with the Sioux Falls School District, said. "Our kids love to have something to hold, and move, and what we are finding, is that it actually increases their attention to be able to do what they need to do in school."

They've even seen good things happen for people who move more.

"What we know through research, is that there are certain motor activities that promote calmness in a body, and certain motor activities that promote excitement or alertness in a body," Bernard said.

It's not just the movement that helps Smith. Fidgeting is also about how it feels.

"The black part...it helps me, if I rub my fingers on it, it just kind of helps with the texture, or like spinning it, feeling the movement helps," Smith said.

It's not just kids who fidget. In fact, Sheryl Nelson, who owns Kidtopia toy store in Sioux Falls, sells fidgets to all ages.

"Oh, they fly out the door," Nelson said. "I cannot hardly keep them in stock."

This $20 green Fidget cube is the last one she had in stock.

"The cubes, I mainly sell, it seems like to adults," Nelson said. "The cubes seem that the adults have an affinity for them to have for desk at work, keep in their pocket, that sort of thing."

The popularity of fidgets goes well beyond KELOLAND.

"This is a national thing. I have a lot of friends that are toy store owners across the country, and we've all been facing the same problem of getting them in for our customers and keeping them in stock," Nelson said.

She says it's a welcomed trend. Like the businesswoman she is, she's looking at the numbers.

"The worst part is knowing when it will go away. Because if you get stuck with a whole lot of them, because you're trying to meet the demand, so you got a lot of them in, and then it ends," Nelson said. "But I think it'll be going for a little while yet."

As Smith looks at her numbers, she says her spinner helps her keep a cooler head.

"When I get frustrated in math, I'll take it out, and start messing, kind of like spinning it, and it helps me calm down," Smith said.

Calmer and more focused, something a lot of us would like to achieve.

Smith also goes to R. F. Pettigrew Elementary in Sioux Falls. Just like at Horace Mann, she uses a spinner there, too.

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