Why fidgets are an effective tool in any classroom along with a list of our favourite fidget toys, both bought and DIY fidgets to make and use at school.
At the beginning of every school year, teachers look ahead as to how they can best support the range of learners that they will have in their class.
In every school, in every classroom, there are children that sometimes need a little extra help to get through their day at school.
The child who can't sit still on the mat during circle time for even a minute.
The child who is always pulling their shoelaces undone.
The child who breaks their pencils playing with them.
There are some children who become more anxious in a noisy classroom environment. Others are children seeking the little extra sensory input they need to concentrate and then there are others who need help focusing their attention to develop active listening skills.
Fidgets can be a useful tool to help children begin self-regulating their behaviour in class. They are a simple, affordable classroom resource to help provide children with sensory input and movement in a less distracting way.
This post contains affiliate links.
A fidget is an object, preferably small enough to fit in one hand, that can be manipulated in some way (squeezed, stretched, spun).
WHAT IS A FIDGET?
They are ideal for the child that is often distracted or moving in class, creating distraction for themselves and other students around them.
HOW DO FIDGETS HELP WITH BEHAVIOUR?Research tells us that many young children learn better when movement is included as an element in their learning.
Using a fidget can be an effective way for a child to redirect their need to move, instead having the fidget satisfy this need, allowing them to focus their attention more wholly on the learning task at hand for longer and more sustained periods of time.
THE BEST SHOP BOUGHT FIDGETSOne of my favourite shop bought fidgets include these stretchy mesh and marble toys. Small enough to hold in one hand or fit in a pocket, you can't help but push and pull these little toys.
Other store bought favourites -
- Tangle toys - a twistable loop of plastic that can moved different ways,
- Liquid timers - used more for calming down but useful for distraction and redirection too,
- Spiky balls - small enough to hold in your palm, provides sensory feedback,
- Spiky slap-band - better for older children or those who would throw the ball version,
- Wooden puzzle fidget - another pliable fidget that can be reshaped different ways,
- Wacky Tracks - a chain like fidget that can be bent different ways,
- Soft rainbow stress ball - it's little rubber fingers are perfect for sensory seekers,
- Push and Pull balls - very pliable but safer than the grape anti-stress balls.
FIDGETS THAT AREN'T MADE TO BE FIDGETSThere are some great products that weren't made specifically to be used as classoom fidgets.
The TheraBand hand exercisers are such a product but I love them as a fidget. They are meant for strengthening hands (my mum used one in rehab following surgery) and they come in different models making some soft enough for children. They can also be heated or cooled too, making for a different sensory experience.
Another is this wooden massager. It's quite small fitting in the palm of your hand easily with the moving ball in the middle, you can use it to roll over sore muscles but again it worked perfectly as a fidget and the smoothness of the wood makes it beautiful to hold.
Not suitable for children still mouthing objects, Bunchems make fantastic fidget toys for older children. Small, cheap to buy by the box, they roll around in your hand and if you have two, you can't help but push and pull them apart. Just keep them away from fine hair.
SIMPLE DIY FIDGETS TO MAKEYou can make your own fidget toys as well.
I had a child passionate about tools so I made these bolts fidgets for him to use in class during mat time.
They were easy to make. Simply thread one nut onto the bolt then add some glue to the thread of a second nut and thread that onto the end. Leave to dry and you have a fidget.
Large pom-poms make great fidget toys as do small squares of soft bumpy or fluffy material. Velvet, velour or mermaid fabric all are hard for small hands to resist.
Large extra fluffy pipe cleaners are a handy go-to fidget when you have nothing else.
Or make your own little yarn dolls for children to hold in the hands or pockets for when they are feeling anxious.
HOW DO I USE FIDGETS IN MY CLASSROOM?Just like the behaviours you are trying to lessen in your classroom, fidgets themselves can become a distraction, or worse, a weapon to use against others, for some children. Using them in class, ground rules need to be set.
The rules we apply in my classroom tend to follow the line of common sense based on the principle that using a fidget is a privilege, one you can lose if you are not respecting other students around you when using it. You need to be using the fidget as it was meant. For example, if using a stress ball, it must stay in your hand, not be thrown across the room. Simple rules that can easily be followed.
Use properly, fidget toys can make the world of difference for some children in a busy classroom environment.
Not on our mailing list?
It's the perfect time to join us and
grab a FREE copy of our 50 Time Saving, Easy to Prep Literacy Centres guide!