Fidgets for the Classroom and Home

Fidgets for the Classroom and Home
Fidget toys on desk

Fidgets for the Classroom and Home

January 2023 | Issue #35

What is a Fidget?

Fidgets are sensory tools that help us to pay attention and focus on the task at hand in many situations. Corporate America knows them as “stress toys.” Occupational Therapists know them as sensory toys with the following properties:

  • Interesting with a tactile composition
  • Heaviness and pliability
  • Movement opportunities it provides to the hands
  • Does not make noise and is not distracting


Fidgeting is mindless play or touching fingers, pencils, hands… anything that allows a student to focus on the task at hand. Fidgets are intended to provide students with a means to occupy their hands in order for them to focus during tasks that require attention. Students who are fidgeting are seeking calm and focus so that their brains can complete a task.


Use fidgets in meetings, during specific lessons in class, and when doing homework.


Fidgets can be for everyone! Even you! How many of us need a fidget source when we need to really concentrate? We jiggle our leg. We tap the desk. We tap our foot. We doodle. We flip a paperclip. We mess with a pen. We twirl our hair. We ALL do something that is an overflow of motor actions with concentration.

Fidgeting stimulates the brain, allowing a student to complete assignments or homework. So, when we ask our students (who are getting less time outdoors, less recess, and are experiencing more sensory needs) to sit still at their desk and NOT to fidget, wiggle, twirl, move, slouch, or jump…it can become a chaotic classroom!


It may be helpful to go over rules of fidget tools with the whole class. Do that before handing over the fidget. Set up guidelines for use, and inappropriate use of fidget tools. Instruct students that they are to be used when concentrating and at all other times should be placed in a pencil box, with crayons, scissors, and other “tools”. Just like those items have a place and a use in the classroom, the fidget tool should be used at certain times and in certain ways. For the classroom environment where a click or a spin can be distracting to others, quiet fidget tools are a must.


People often “fiddle” with small objects such as erasers or paper clips to maintain attention. If it is not interfering with classroom learning and is safe for the student, allow fidget objects during listening or class work activities.

Looking for quiet fidget toys to support self-regulation needs in a classroom setting? These quiet fidgets are the perfect occupational therapy toy that supports sensory needs through play. The fidget tools listed below are those that are quiet in nature and can be made by yourself!

  • A chain of paper clips
  • Use pipe cleaners and beads to make a desk-top fidget tool
  • Use one or more key chains linked together to make a DIY fidget toy
  • Fill balloons with a small amount of flour, play dough, dry beans, rice, or slime. Tie a knot and let kids play with the fidget tool.
  • Attach a strip of sticky-back velcro inside or under a desk
  • Make a quiet fidget toy with small rubber bands and a shower curtain loop
  • Nuts and bolts work well during school or homework tasks
  • A slice of a pool noodle makes a great hand squeeze tool
  • Beaded keychain crafts are an awesome fine motor activity, and the result is a fidget tool that can be used every day!
  • Attach a binder clip to a pencil
  • Pipe cleaners wrapped in a loose ball
  • Pipe cleaners and beads- Attach them to pencils as a pencil topper fidget toy
  • Use paper clips as a game spinner:
    • Place the paper clip on a paper.
    • Point the tip of a pencil down into one of the paperclip loops.
    • Hold the pencil straight up and down.
    • Use your other hand to spin the paperclip around the pencil.
    • This is a great exercise in bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination skills, and crossing midline.

Make Your Own Pencil Topper!

DIY Pencil Topper:

You will need:

  • A rubber band
  • Pony beads
  • A pencil
  1. Thread a rubber band through a pony bead.
    • You can show your students how to do this task to promote a tripod grasp and bilateral hand coordination.
    • Kids can add as many pony beads as they like to the rubber band.
  2. Then, wrap the rubber band around the pencil topper.
  3. Finally, add pipe cleaners
Kids can be as creative as they like with the pipe cleaners, beads, colors, and other embellishments.