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Classroom Management: The Fidget Spinners Debate

Janelle Cox

Fidget spinners are the relatively new craze sweeping the nation’s schools. This palmed-sized spinner was a classroom management tool intended to help children with Autism and ADHD sit still and focus, and has now become the new “It” toy among children. For those of you who are new to this recent craze, a fidget spinner is a small, handheld toy that has a three-prong design that spins on a central bearing. This gadget was originally marketed as a classroom management tool for behavior specialists and occupational therapists to use with their students who had sensory disorders and anxiety. However, it can now be found in just about every child’s hands across the globe. Do they have a place in the classroom or should they be banned? Here we will take a look at this new classroom management controversy.

The Classroom Management Debate: Should Fidget Spinners Be Banned?

The fidget spinner is aimed at helping individuals fidget quietly instead of tapping or chewing on their pencil (which can be a distraction). They are said to help quietly relieve stress, while helping individuals focus. However, they have become a new trend and people are now treating them as toys. When children use them as toys, it can make it more difficult for the children who have sensory issues or problems with anxiety to use them as a tool.

Fidget spinners can also be a distraction in the classroom. Imagine trying to teach with 20 students spinning away on their gadgets. It can make it quite difficult for students to pay attention or even read or write when they have a fidget spinner in their hand. According to Spinner List, many teachers have found these gadgets so disrupting that many schools have even banned them. Children were not paying attention in class or were trying to trade them with their friends. They were noisy and distracting, and sometimes the ball bearings would fall out. Teachers know that children are going to fidget, it’s just a normal reaction. But many teachers feel that the need for a fidget spinner is unnecessary.

Is There an Alternative?

There is no denying the fact that children need to move, especially those with special needs. So, what is an alternative for students struggling to alleviate anxiety and other related problems? Bouncy Bands. Their slogan is “Wiggle while you work.” Bouncy bands were invented by an elementary school teacher who has firsthand knowledge of just how bored and fidgety children can get throughout the day. He invented a band that stretches across the front legs of a desk or chair to help students stretch or move their legs while they work. He created the bands to help his own students release some energy, and found that his students loved them. In fact, according to a survey of 700 students in grades K-12, 88 percent said that Bouncy Bands helped them focus, 87 percent felt that they helped them feel calmer before a test, and 98 percent said that they were fun. 92 percent of teachers surveyed said that Bouncy Bands helped students’ release energy.

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The cost of a Bouncy Band is between $14.95 and $16.95. If this price seems too steep for your pocket or your school’s district, then you can join along with more than 645 other teachers who are currently fundraising to get Bouncy Bands in their classroom via Donors Chose. If you are worried that your classroom won’t get picked, to help put you at ease, more than 4,334 classrooms have already been funded via Donors Chose. 

There is no arguing that children need to move and get their wiggles out. However, just like the stress ball was phased out, so will the fidget spinner. And I’m sure there will be more “Trendy” objects that will help students release their energy in the future as well. Until then, teachers and parents will just have to instill a few rules while they are still popular.

What do you think about fidget spinners? Do you allow them in your classroom? Please share your thoughts about the topic in the comment section below, we would love to hear your take on the topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.