Susan Thacker 530News –
Remember the fads of elementary school? There were small, inexpensive items that every fifth-grader had to have.
A few weeks ago, fidget spinners found their way to Great Bend schools. A fidget spinner is a hand toy that you spin. It has two or three prongs with circles in them, centered around a circle with bearings in the middle. You hold the device in the middle with your finger and thumb. Then you twirl it.
One reason these little toys have caught the attention of National Public Radio, Time magazine and others is the spin (pun intended) that marketers have put on them. There are claims they can help control attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There is no real science behind that, other than the fact that many people using fidgeting to focus. Fidgeting can take the form of doodling, twirling your hair around a finger or stepping away from a computer to grab a cup of coffee.
Karen Smith, who teaches fifth grade at Lincoln Elementary, said her students starting bringing fidget spinners to school a few weeks ago.
“They love them!” she said. “They are very cool.”
The teacher likes these toys and has a few of her own. She assured me she did not confiscate them from students. Kiddos are allowed to bring them to school and may even use them as a fidget, discretely, so long as they aren’t passing them around in class or creating a distraction.
“I did ask them to take them home for awhile,” she said.
The fidget spinner is not a therapeutic device, in Smith’s opinion.
“I definitely feel they are more of a toy and should be marketed that way,” she said.
The fidget spinner has been called the hula hoop of Generation Z. It also has a spin-off, so to speak, the fidget cube.
Recalling other trends in the school over the years, Smith said kids still make “fortune tellers” out of folded paper or play the pencil-and-paper game M.A.S.H. to predict whether they will live in a Mansion, Apartment, Shack or House. The game also predicts who you will marry, how many children you’ll have and what you will drive.
Other trends she recalls are yo-yos, friendship bracelets and Rubik’s Cubes.
When I was in grade school, it was important to keep up with the latest fads. There were periods where we all wore beanies, or peace symbols, or mood rings or love beads.
For awhile we all had click clacks, also known as knockers and clackers. They were two acrylic balls attached to string that could be knocked together rapidly using an up and down wrist motion. Sometimes the heavy balls would fly off the string or shatter, which is why clackers were officially banned in 1985.
I found that last bit of information on a web page from LittleThings (https://www.littlethings.com/banned-toys/) titled, “The 10 Most Dangerous Banned Children’s Toys of All Time.”
I remember a couple of the other toys on that list: Jarts, or lawn darts, and candy cigarettes. Seriously, kids used to be able to buy these white, chalky sugar sticks that came in boxes with labels that mirrored real brands, “just like Dad.” How about THAT for a product spin?
Susan Thacker is news editor of the Great Bend Tribune. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.