Fidgets: Fad or Function?

Sarah Breeden, MT, 12 year classroom teacher

We’ve all seen them: fidget spinners, “monkey noodles,” pop-its, and slime. They’re ubiquitous in school prize boxes and store dollar sections. But do fidgets serve a function for some kids?

Benefits of fidgets are actually a thing, not just a fad that allows kids to have “toys” in the school environment. Scientific articles, like this one here, have documented positive effects of simple stress balls on middle schoolers attention spans (Journal of At-Risk Issues, 2006). And anecdotally, it allows some students to self-regulate, distract or even slightly move in order to better access the learning environment.

There are studies beginning to emerge that show a correlation between self-regulation and academic achievement (Journal of Education Health Prom., 2018). A simple tool like a fidget may allow students to regulate big emotions, stress, lack of physical activity and more as teachers often see in classrooms. What a simple tool that could have lasting impacts!

One thing to consider is that students have to be taught how to use a fidget appropriately. Just as in all other areas of school, school staff need to give the fidget parameters, appropriate instruction or monitoring in order to ensure it is used with success. Not every kind of fidget is for every student. Teachers should exercise good judgment when giving fidgets to their students! 

Look for our fidget review videos soon for more information on different types of fidgets you can use in your classrooms. Happy self regulating!

ERIC, Journal of Education Science. Using Stress Balls to Focus the Attention of Sixth-Grade Learners, 2008.

Accessed March 12, 2023
National Library of Medicine, NIH. The relationship between self-regulation and educational performance in students, 2018. Accessed March 12, 2023


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