Fidget Spinners in Math

These days, teachers are either for or against fidget spinners. Some think that they are total distractions and others think that they help with focus and attention. What's your take? What are your class rules?

It was tough for me to decide where I stand. With any new toy, game, or trend, I try to find ways to incorporate my students' interests in their learning. And if you follow me on TpT or have read blogs before this one, you know that I have Minecraft inspired math activities, Pokémon Go math task cards, Lego robot projects, math fact bracelets, cooking, etc. In all of these, I relate math to things my students like. It has definitely been my "hook" to capturing their attention in math.

I personally feel that banning fidget spinners completely from class is a difficult thing to do and I don't want to constantly be on guard to confiscate them, call parents, so on and so forth. I experienced this with Pokémon trading cards a long time ago and before that there were Rainbow Loom bracelets. The list goes on and on. So, my approach is figuring out a way to incorporate them in math within my boundaries and classroom expectations.

I asked my 7-year old son why he likes fidget spinners. His response was very simple. He likes to watch the spinner and he likes to know how long before his spinner stops. Essentially, it's a timer. Just like a sand timer where you flip it over and watch the sand till the last grain. It hit me- I can have students use the fidget spinners as timers!

And where in math do we tend to set a time to finish a quick task? MATH FACTS! Fact fluency is an important skill. It takes practice in a variety of ways. I created addition facts for my son to try out and he loved it. He thought it was a fun challenge to finish as many facts as possible before his fidget spinner stopped. He was thrilled that he was able to use his fidget spinner and now he's even using his spinner while he brushes his teeth. A good spin can be up to 3 minutes from my own experiments and it really depends on the weight of the spinner. I'm not too technical about the length of time of each spin but you can decide that on your own.

Like with any fluency building activity, teachers have to discuss goals with students. You might want to start with 20 facts and move up to 25. It's never intended to be stressful for students or make them solve an insane number of facts in a short amount of time.

Here's my son at work and here are links where you can pick up your own copies of activities to use with fidget spinners. Hope this helps you figure out where you stand when it comes to fidget spinners in class!

Fidget Spinners Multiplication
Fidget Spinners Division
Fidget Spinners Addition
Fidget Spinners Subtraction
Fidget Spinners STEM
Fidget Spinners Reward Posters
Fidget Spinners Writing
Fidget Spinners Dolch Words
Fidget Spinners Sight Words