Fidget toys are a great coping tool for students with anxiety and ADHD. They provide sensory stimulation that can allow students to focus on classwork and are a must for any classroom.
But which fidget toys are the most effective and best for the classroom? We asked veteran teachers to share their experiences and expertise with us to come up with a list of the best must-have fidgets for any classroom!
The Best Fidgets for the Any Classroom
VELCRO (shop here)
Strips of VELCRO placed under the desk are fabulous for children who need extra focus throughout the school day. The tactile nature of the hook and loop material offers children the sensory stimulation they want and need. The best part? It is a relatively inexpensive material that can be easily replaced when it gets too worn or dirty.
There are many different types of squishy fidget toys out there, but the more expensive ones don’t necessarily work better than the dollar store variety. Anything that allows students to squish and squeeze the material works well. If you can find squishy toys with texture to the outside, that works even better for some children!
Mini Slinkies (shop here)
While they may not be using them on steps, mini Slinkies are an excellent option for fidget toys in the classroom. They allow students to twist, stretch, and move in appropriate ways throughout a lesson. The plastic variety is not as durable as the metal ones, but they are safer for students who may get their fingers stuck in them!
Silly Putty (shop here)
Bend, twist, stretch, fold, and squish Silly Putty to stay focused throughout the school day. This stretchy Putty is perfect for students who like the squishy feel of sensory toys. With its own carrying case, it’s an even better option if students need to travel from class to class. If your students need their Silly Putty a bit “extra,” put some large beads inside it. The contrast between the squishy Putty and the hard beads can be a great combination.
For a less tactile fidget toy, but one with an equal amount of sensory fun, try making or purchasing sensory bottles. These bottles typically include beads or bubbles and come in a variety of colors. They’re an excellent way for students to visually focus on something while listening to a lesson. They also hold interest and can have a calming effect on children with anxiety.
Tension Bands (shop here)
Have a student who continuously fidgets his legs? Place a tension band around the front legs of his desk chair. This gives him something to bounce his feet on and helps to keep him focused. You may find that even children who are not typically fidgety in your class enjoy having tension bands around their chairs as well.
Chenille Stems (shop here)
Formerly known as pipe cleaners, chenille stems offer students a fuzzy tactile experience. They can bend, twist, and rub the chenille’s texture between their fingers to help satisfy their need to fidget.
Usually found at the dollar store, silicone dish scrubbers give students a mix of textures to fidget with. They are inexpensive and can be easily washed or replaced as needed.
No matter which fidgets you would like to keep in the classroom, a variety of options is always a good bet. Remember that while one type of fidget may work for one student, there is no guarantee that it will work for another.
Fidget toy options, and the validation of the need to move in some way, can be life-changing for those students who struggle to calm their minds enough to focus on their schoolwork.
You can also see more fidgets on my Fidgets and Sensory Play Pinterest Board.
What are your favorite fidgets to use in the classroom? Tell us in the comments below!