Coming from a special education perspective, I like fidgets. Coming from a general education classroom viewpoint, they can drive me crazy! Clicking, bouncing, throwing, distracting other students, and so on. They seem like less of a help and more of a hinderance to the learning environment!
Are there fidgets that are appropriate for the classroom?
My criteria for fidgets, if they are in the general education setting, is that they have to be quiet, not distract from the lesson, and are appropriate for the student using them. In other words, it’s not a fidget that the student will be tempted to throw or click endlessly.
Top 5 Fidgets
So here they are. The fidgets that meet my criteria. I’ve used most of them, except for #3 which was just too cute not to share! The links to the fidgets are affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase from these links.
Tangle Fidget Toy
1. Pro: These are very quiet and keeps the student’s hands occupied so they aren’ttearing apart paper or taking apart pencils. Con: Some students figure out the pieces can be pulled apart. Solution: Set the expectation that if they take them apart, they won’t be able to use them and find a different fidget that is appropriate for that student. Here is similar fidget.
2. Pro: These don’t make the student stand out. It may also help the student keep track of their pencil because they like it so much! Con: Pencils get lost easily and so will the fidget! Solution: Pass these out with independent work, or whenever the student needs it, and then collect it at the end of the assignment so it doesn’t walk away.
3. Pro: These are super cute and a keychain so any student who doesn’t want to stand out by using a fidget, doesn’t have to! Con: I haven’t actually used this one and it looks like only the middle bean pops up. Solution: Not all fidgets are appropriate for every student. Use this with a student who would keep track of it and not break it.
4. Pro: Small, simple, but engaging because of the moving gel inside! Con: Students trying to pop them. Solution: If the student is trying to pop them, take it away. Not all fidgets will be appropriate for every student. Fidgets need behavior management just like most hands-on materials in the classroom!
5. Pro: This is a socially appropriate thing to chew on without it breaking the rule of no gum in the classroom. If you notice students chewing on their shirt collars and pencils try this out with them! Con: Germs. Solution: Teach the students to wash them at the end of the day. After washing, store them in individual containers, without lids, so they can dry before the next day of school.
I have mixed feelings about fidget spinners. I love that the idea of fidgets are becoming popular. Yet it seems like students may just be calling spinners fidgets to have them be accepted in school. The real purpose of a fidget is to help a student focus on the lesson. Although spinners have become toys and distractions instead of a tool that helps students focus. Surprisingly though, I think if I had to pick, I would say they are good. They break down a stigma and stereotype and with some classroom management and clear expectations, they can be used appropriately.