Is there a “best” fidget?

As a teacher, I know the student with ADHD- hyperactive type as soon as she sits down in her seat.  It’s apparent by the tapping, strumming, or humming she uses to calm that active brain.  Hyperactive and combined type ADHDers are my most honest students and give me a true reading of classroom engagement.  Without them,  I’d never know if my lesson was interesting, or not.


Photo by Megan Soule on Unsplash
Enter the fidget toy.  Fidget cubes, spinners, marbles, massage stones, mini Chinese medicine balls and more have found their way into my classroom this year. It’s the magic answer to the pencil tapping, foot stomping and other movements that make it easier for ADDers, but harder for the whole group, to concentrate in quiet.  Fidget toys and their catchy, addictive use remind me of Justin Beiber–they’re probably not going away any time soon.  The fad is here to stay, it seems and all sorts of students are now “fidgeting” in class with these soothing toys.
I want to say these tools are 100 percent effective to my ADHD students, but they may become a distraction themselves.  For reading, individual work and tests they’re helpful.  The problem actually lies in the group setting, not with the device itself.  My son’s school has banned their use without an accommodation because they were stolen, shared, fought over and otherwise disrupting classrooms more than they were effectively managing symptoms.  They were not exactly serving the intended purpose.

Here’s the rundown on some of the latest fidgets used in my classroom:


What I’ve found to work best in my classroom are the spinners.  They can be spun quietly on an individual desk without causing too much disruption.  The spinner also soothes if students spin them on their fingers (while listening or watching something-like a student presentation).


The 6-sided fidget cubes are good on the massage “stone” side, the joy stick or the 5 button side.  The clicking “light switch” can be just as loud as a pencil tapping to nearby students.

The Chinese medicine balls are difficult to master.  Dropping one during a test is equivalent to a mini bomb going off.  Just say no.
The marbles in mini bags have not caught on with my middle school students.  Their mesh bags ensure there’s no chance to drop and send marbles shooting all over the classroom.  That’s a win-win.

Are there any fidget toys you or your child enjoy?  Do they help?  Comment below.

Published by Family ADDventures

Nicole Santiago is a learning specialist, student advocate, and founder of Family ADDventures. As a specialist, she assesses and teaches clients (adults and adolescents) to manage and grow their executive functioning skills which include emotional regulation, task initiation, and time management. As an advocate (IEP coach), she is a member of COPAA and ensures inclusive (special) education students receive the most appropriate educational services possible. She often collaborates with OT's, SLP's and neuropsychologists all in the name of student improvement and success. Her practice is located in San Antonio, TX, and everywhere (virtually). The author grew up an army brat and spends time with her three ND children and husband in Puerto Rico whenever possible. She writes about mental health, parenting, education, and entrepreneurship on her blog:

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