I don’t know about you, but I love a good deal. As a special education teacher, I especially love good educational deals!
The other day, I was at the dollar store looking for balloons. My quest took me to the party aisle, where I happened to notice all the cheap party favors they had. That’s when I saw them. Squishy balls! Three for $1.00! A lightbulb went off in my brain and I immediately knew how I was going to put them to use. I bought six packs for a total of eighteen squishy balls and took them all to school. I opened all the packs, put the balls in an empty notecard container, and voila!
A class set of fidget tools!
I teach in a middle school, and one class that I co-teach in has a lot of students who struggle with attention. While a few students do have ADHD or other types of sensory processing disorders, most just simply have to stay busy or they get bored. Boredom = lots of extra pencil tapping, talking to a neighbor, fidgeting in their seat, or (in extreme cases) falling asleep. The class was getting out of control! I had thought about using fidget tools before, but I simply didn’t have enough for everyone that needed one. I knew the students would complain about “fairness” if they didn’t all have the same thing but buying 18 similar fidget tools was going to get expensive quick! This was the perfect solution. I got enough for everyone in the class and passed them out at the beginning of class. I’ve been amazed at how just having something small in his or her hand to play with in a non-disruptive way can really help a student focus! I collect them at the end of class and they’re ready to go for the next day. This has made a big difference in keeping noise level down and helping students stay focused. $6.00 well spent!
After this success, I rooted around in my fidget tool box and dug out a lot of other items that I’ve found over the years at dollar stores. Here’s a quick list of some of the things I have found nice and cheap:
-textured pencil grips or eraser tops
-firmer “porcupine” balls
-mini rubber balls
-mini Play-Doh (or other brands of craft dough) packages
-hacky sacks (I confess I did not buy these but my husband had several from childhood. They can be found online for under $2 though!)
-string of Mardi Gras beads
-yarn (sometimes it’s as simple as having a piece of yarn to fiddle with!)
-coiled bracelets (sometimes they come as keychains)
-rubber bands/silly bands
-mini koosh balls (the kind with the rubber-like strings)
The list goes on and on! I have found the most helpful aisles to be the party aisle and craft aisle. Be creative! Finding good tools to help your students concentrate does not have to be complicated and it does not have to be expensive! All of these items can be found for under $3. I also collect stress balls at every chance I get–many companies use them as promotional items so they are f-r-e-e! Doesn’t get better than that!
**A quick note: I make sure my students know my fidget tool rules before I give them one. The rules are:
1- Your fidget tool does not leave your hand unless it is sitting on your desk.
2- You may only use one hand with your fidget tool. The other must be working (writing, using a calculator, following along on the page, etc).
3- Do not throw your fidget tool.
4- If you are misusing your tool or are unable to work and/or listen to the teacher when you have your fidget tool, we will need to discuss whether this is actually an appropriate tool for you (and it will be taken away if it is not).
Enjoy a fidget-free (or at the least, reduced!) classrroom!
Today’s school outfit was based on neutral shades. I did add some jewelry after this but didn’t have time to take another picture. Quick and easy look for fall!
T-shirt dress: Express
Black leggings: Express
Boots: CL by Laundry
5 thoughts on “Cheap Fidget Tools”
Coming from an adult with ADHD: please don’t call an accommodation a privilege! Would you call glasses a privilege? A hearing aid? A wheelchair? A fidget isn’t either. It is a tool and by all means, tell them if they don’t use the tool for it’s intended purpose (so misuse it), it will be taken away, but do not act like it is a special favor granted to them. It is there for meeting their specific needs. Too often these accomadations are framed as a luxury or something granted on the good heart of those who don’t need them and it can be a harmful way to word it, that’s carried into adulthood.
Hi! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience. I really appreciate your perspective. Admittedly, I had not considered that specific wording and how it could have a lasting negative impact. My intent was to convey that a specific fidget tool may not be the appropriate choice for a student if they are unable to use it in in a way that allows them to continue working or listening and therefore that specific tool is not guaranteed to be what they’ll use, but you are right that my word choice should have been better. I have adjusted the wording in my post to better convey my intent. Thank you for your input!