We have all been distracted by the wiggle worms in our classrooms. Those fidgety students that click the tops of their pens, bounce their legs or foot up and down, tap on the desk, etc. Certainly, these movements can be quite distracting and disturbing to the entire classroom.
Why is it that some students find themselves fidgeting? Students often engage in these repetitive movements or motions to help them stay alert or to keep them relaxed during certain periods of class. These unconscious moments occur when students become stressed, anxious, bored, tired or when they have become distracted. Research shows that allowing students to fidget in the classroom might be the best course to take. I’m not implying that we allow our students to take control of the classroom. However, there are several effective tools available that can be easily integrated into the classroom to help keep our students alert without being distracting.
Stress toys or Fidgets are small items that students can fiddle with to help them concentrate and stay present. There are many silent Fidgets available, including stress balls, silly putty, Play-Doh, Koosh balls, pipe cleaners, glitter gel shapes, etc. All of these items provide your students with a silent release of energy.
I suggest that you start to build your private collection of silent Fidgets. These inexpensive tools can be purchased online or at local stores. Place items in a “Fidget Basket” or place a few Fidgets in the center of your student’s desks. Invite and encourage students to engage and play with the fidgets as you present your lessons. Not only will there be less wiggling taking place but student learning will be enhanced as you have provided them with a sensory outlet that will allow them to focus on the materials being presented.