- Twist and Lock Blocks
- Silly Putty (or get the dollar store version here)
- Koosh Balls
- Puffer Balls
- Stress balls (also at many dollar stores -- or ask local businesses to donate them!)
- Foam balls
- Porcupine balls
- Chenille craft stems (otherwise known as pipe cleaners)
- Mini bean bags
- Kneadable Erasers (aka: artists' eraser putty)
- Coil keychains
If you're on a tight classroom budget, you can make your own fidgets by using a wide-mouthed funnel to partially fill latex balloons with clean sand, flour, cornstarch. or play dough. Doubling or tripling the balloon covering will help these homemade stress balls last longer.
You can also stop by your local hardware store or carpet store and gather small carpet samples (approx. 3" x 3"). Ask if they'd like to donate a dozen or so samples to your class. (Run fabric glue around the edges to keep them from fraying, if you'd like.) Small carpet samples make fabulous fidgets!
Other super-effective ideas include:
- Stretch a therapy band, resistance band, bicycle inner tube, or giant rubber bands around the front legs of each chair, allowing students to silently bounce their legs or feet on the band.
- Cut adhesive Velcro into 4-6 inch strips. Adhere 1 strip on either side of the underside of students' chairs. You can also adhere strips under tables or desks. You really don't even need to tell students the strips are there . . . fidgety students will find them and the strips will keep their fingers occupied for awhile.
Be picky when choosing the perfect fidget widgets! You want fidgets that are:
- Fidgets should fit easily in one hand and be able to be used under a desk or table.
- They may get lost or find their way out of the classroom. You'll likely replenish them a few times throughout the year, so don't invest inordinate amounts of money in them.
- Fidgets that make noise (or that can be used to make noise) should be avoided, if possible.
- Pass on fidgets that can be snapped, popped, or thrown across the room, unless you can prevent these scenarios with effective pre-teaching.
- Fidgets should be more tactile than visual -- they should not draw students' eyes away from the task at hand.
- Tools, not toys
- Balls or objects that bounce or roll are not ideal fidgets.
Fidget widgets help enhance focus and concentration, decrease off-task and distracting behaviors, and increase learning for middle school students -- and the bonus is incorporating them into your everyday classroom management plan differentiates your classroom learning space and optimizes your middle school classroom for all learners!
Not convinced? Click here to read more about how fidgets can enhance learning in Middle School classrooms -- and how to pre-teach so that you can incorporate them seamlessly into your cclassroom management plan!
Do you have a favorite fidget widget? Tell us about it and how you use it in your classroom!