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Fidget Toys

45 Ideas for Classroom Friendly Fidget Toys

By Bec Oakley

** View or download the attached pdf for visuals examples of these toy types

What are fidget toys?

Kids who have trouble regulating sensory input can easily become distracted, seeking out sensation to either stimulate or calm their nervous system. Fidgeting gives them this input, usually in a way that is disruptive to both them and their classmates - wriggling, biting their nails, doodling, moving about the classroom.

A fidget toy is an object that the student can use to get this input in a less distracting way. They can help improve concentration and attention to tasks by allowing the brain to filter out the extra sensory information.

Who needs them?

Most children can be fidgety at one time or another, but kids with ADHD, autism and sensory integration disorder are particularly prone to be distracted in this way. 

What makes a good fidget toy?

A good fidget toy is one that is both effective at helping the student to concentrate and can easily fit into a classroom environment. That means that it needs to be:

  • Safe
  • Small
  • Quiet
  • Inexpensive
  • Able to be used without distracting others

Choosing a toy that will be a satisfying fidget replacement for your students will depend on their individual abilities, challenges and sensory needs:

  • Which times of the day do they most need one?
  • What are their fine motor skills like?
  • Do they have the hand strength to manipulate the toy?
  • What sensations and textures do they seek out?
  • Which ones do they avoid?
  • Do they tend to put objects in their mouth?
  • Do they like to throw things?

Tips for Using Fidget Toys

Use them intermittently Students can often become desensitized to the sensory benefits of an object, so use it for short periods at times when concentration is most needed or swap between toys over the course of the day.

Try toys with a variety of surfaces Lumpy, squishy, different materials, bits that move

If they’re likely to lose it or throw it... Attach the toy to a ribbon and let them wear it as a bracelet or necklace. You could also attach a retractable cord and clip it to their belt, so they can easily access it when they need to.

Tactile Fidget Toys

  • Sponges
  • Bumpy shells
  • Play dough
  • Origami Packing away toys
  • Bull or alligator clips
  • Unfilled balloons
  • Silly putty
  • Pencil grips
  • Stress balls
  • Bubble wrap
  • Tactile fidget toys
  • Abacus
  • Smooth stones
  • Beads
  • Plush and beanie toys
  • Rubber bands Bumpy piping Paper clips
  • Hide toys in a
  • bucket of sand
  • or rice
  • Tactile fidget toys
  • Bean bags
  • Push puppets
  • Rubber duck
  • Linking rings
  • Newton’s cradle Slinky
  • Bendable dolls
  • Pin art
  • Fill balloons with sand, rice, or play dough using a funnel or squirt bottle
  • Visual fidget toys
  • Snow globe
  • Chewable fidget toys
  • Spinning top
  • Flashlight
  • Sand timer
  • Lava lamp
  • Glow sticks
  • Drinking straws Plastic piping
  • Chewable jewellery

Vestibular & Deep Pressure Fidget Toys

  • Mini trampoline
  • Fill socks to make a weighted lap toy
  • Hacky sacks
  • Wrap an elastic bungee cord around the chair leg for student to pull with her feet
  • Microwaveable wheat heat packs Fingerless gloves with weights attached
  • Toys with a rubber mallet


I hope this guide has inspired you to make fidget toys for your students from things you can find around your classroom!

For more tips on kids with sensory needs (especially autism), visit my blog at See you next time!

Bec Oakley



All images © Microsoft except the following images used under Creative Commons license:

Pin Art from Flickr user jrhugs - http://www.flickr.com/photos/68386867@N05/6221504711/

Hacky sacks from Flickr user ikayama - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ikayama/7497340794/


Disclaimer: This document reflects the views of the author. It is Autism Ontario’s intent to inform and educate. Every situation is unique and while we hope this information is useful, it should be used in the context of broader considerations for each person. Please contact Autism Ontario at info@autismontario.com or 416-246-9592 for permission to reproduce this material for any purpose other than personal use. © 2012 Autism Ontario  416.246.9592  www.autismontario.com.