“Tools Not Toys” kits redefine inclusivity in classrooms

Hand in Hand organization finds a way to create a more inclusive Quad Cities through innovative kits
Hand in Hand organization finds a way to create a more inclusive Quad Cities through innovative kits
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 2:19 PM CDT
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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) - “Hand in Hand” created a kit called “Tools Not Toys” to be used to promote inclusion in schools around the Quad cities.

The kits include more than 20 specialized items designed to be used as classroom tools, and help students self-regulate and actively engage in class. Unlike typical toys, these items are tailored to meet each student’s specific needs. The kits were developed with input from local teachers, administrators, occupational therapists, and mental health therapists to ensure that the tools help create a successful classroom experience for all students.

“It’s upon all of us to make sure that inclusion is something that we practice every day, and understand from a variety of perspectives,” said Angie Kendall, CEO of Hand in Hand. “The message that we’re all here to support the individuals who help our children to be successful. so we all have a role to play in that.”

The kits consist of visual timers and liquid motion timers that help students visualize time. Often, because of problems with executive functioning in the frontal lobe, students may have problems conceptualizing time, leading to anxiety about how long something will take or when something is going to occur.

In addition to the timers, the kit includes chair bands and wobble discs. Both items allow students to have psychomotor movement while keeping the distraction of others to a minimum. All kits distributed to local schools were made possible through funding. So far, the organization has distributed 50 kits, and the feedback they’ve received shows the significant impact of these kits on students’ learning experiences.

“We heard from a teacher we distributed these it happened to be the eighth day of school and the teacher said in eight days this child has not sat down and today he did, so when we can provide these tools that help a child to be successful that is really rewarding,” said Ms. Kendall.

The organization plans to continue talking to experts to improve future kits and hopes to secure more funding to help more local schools.