Day 159 (of 185) the day I hated fidgets #blog4MH

Day 159 (of 185) the day I hated fidgets


Once upon a time, I was teaching a class and spending a lot of time working on self-regulation. I didn’t call it that back then, it was just what was needed for students to be successful. We were using:

  • physical movement breaks
  • hands on numeracy
  • walking field trips
  • Friends for Life (great CBT program available for free via the Education Ministry)
  • the greatest differentiation tool ever: iBook laptops (pretty much a 1:1 model)
  • music (usually classics, but not always – thanks to the range of programs on siriusxm
  • heavy lifting/pushing (our school laptop carts would regularly be moved around our square hallways
  • passion projects (now referred to as GeniusHour….but I didn’t call it that then)
  • Literature Circles (right text for right reader)



I wish I had thought about and used:


  • “free play” PE
  • coding (as a mindset, not simply programming)
  • lego <— specifically Lego Architecture (regular lego has always been a key intervention)
  • kinetic sand
  • pushing for what has now evolved into eportfolios (tried putting pictures into our report card to show personalized growth….some people weren’t quite ready ‘back then’)
  • mindfulness training/practicing/modelling
  • a few other approaches that are now just part of daily practice


But: the day I hated fidgets:


An “idea” came from our Student Services ladies (two Learning Resource Teachers) that was putting little “fidgets” in kids hands. They were doing a little “pilot project” by letting some students try them out. Both my partner teacher and I liked them….and our school was a tad “playful” so we presented a trick to our principal that we wanted to play at the staff meeting (just so he wouldn’t try to interrupt us):


So…during the staff meeting, just before the official “start” (we always started with Student Service updates first) we highjacked the meeting with a ‘growing concern that could not wait’: we shared how some of our students had somehow gotten their hands on these little plastic “thingys” and we were worried if it was just in our class or throughout the school….. We were concerned because it was creating a token economy in the classroom and around school where students were trading and selling the devices throughout the day – and they were being used during instructional time! – and….and….and <— essentially taking on the typical “challenges” to fidgets entering schools until we finally (not too long, though the pale faces on our LRTs may have meant that the time seemed to be going much slower for them…..) confessed that we really liked how they were being used by our students and it was making a difference in them being able to stay focused on the tasks and work we were doing in school.  But we essentially took away any ‘arguments’ any other teachers may have brought up, so when the LRTs were finally given the floor to present how they wanted to use fidgets in a variety of classes, there could only be positive support for this initiative…..We didn’t actually hate the fidgets, but we hated the idea that the fidgets might get dismissed as too much of a distraction for some which would mean they would not be available to anyone.




My other connection to this topic came from the support & concerns about the “new fidgets” referred to as Fidget Cubes and Spinners. I liked some of the support for the “science” behind them:

As well as the reflection that this is nothing new:


classic spinner.png

And that there is a reminder that we need to load up Self-Regulation Tool Boxes with a variety of tools – the tool that works for one will not work for all….in fact, with self-regulation there is NO One-Size-Fits-All (not even slow breathing!)  But it’s good for everyone to find out if the object is a tool (enhances ability to Learn) or a toy (distracts from Learning). With fidgets – some learners will find that they are very good at helping them distract/re-attract their brains to what should be focused on, and there will be some that like them because they are neat and cool….not a bad reason, but not necessarily a “tool to help focus on learning”….but you never know until you try!



So whether it’s a fidget cube, or a spinner, or a worry stone, or a lucky rabbits foot, or a warm cup of tea, or a particular type of music, or or or – if it is something that truly helps you focus and be mindful….that’s a good thing to keep doing.

About technolandy

Principaling on the Pacific in Powell River BC Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback to personalize learning!
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