Fidget Spinners Are Over And Out

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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What’s going to happen to all those fidget spinners?

Not that long ago, fidget spinners were causing a right old hoo-ha in schools. Even cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist Daniel T. Willingham advocated this ‘fidget spinner worksheet’!

In our previous blog ‘No Spin Zone’ we reported that lots of teachers were up in arms about their disruptive influence with many schools banning them. Fidget spinners did cause chaos in some schools and there was even a playground black market for them with enterprising children selling them to each other for tidy profits. At one point shops couldn’t get hold of them fast enough but now they are ten a penny and soon they won’t be able to give them away.


The fidget spinner craze has died a death. As crazes go this was a fairly short-lived blast of intense activity but the dust has definitely settled, interest has waned and most children have moved on.

According to, millions of fidget spinners are expected to end up in landfill because the market has been flooded with them and shops are drowning in stock they just cannot shift. Spokesperson for Business Waste, Mark Hall says,

“Shops and mail order companies over-ordered like they were going out of fashion, and suddenly they did just that.”

When crazes fizzle out then retailers have to cut their losses and accept that even with heavy discounts their stock just isn’t on the radar anymore so they get rid and in many cases this means everything gets lobbed into the bin.


The scenario of millions of fidget spinners being dumped into brimming landfill sites is frightening because this is the easiest way out. Responsible retailers won’t be thinking along these lines though because they recognise that fidget spinner parts can be recycled.

This in itself makes for a fascinating topic of discussion for children to engage with. Getting them to consider what different spinners are made from will help guide their thinking about what to do with their own spinners once they are bored with them. Some might keep hold of them and hope they can sell them on an antiques programme in years to come but most will end up being disposed of.

The colossal fidget spinner waste mountain provides us with a golden opportunity to cash in on the ethics and morals of waste disposal, retail crazes and what happens after something loses its popularity. We can encourage debate and discussion and promote responsible recycling.

We should all be thinking of zero tolerance to landfill because fidget spinners can be recycled. Some spinners are better quality than others with the best ones containing copper, brass, titanium and stainless steel. The cheaper versions are made from aluminium, low quality steel and fleshed out with plastic. If any of this goes into the ground then what a waste!

Business Waste reckons that there ought to be separate bins for fidget spinners as people might not necessarily recycle them. We have them for batteries so why not for fidget spinners? There are after all millions of them and that is a lot of metal.


Instead of recycling, one seriously good idea is to pass fidget spinners on to suffers of dementia so they can be reused. The spinners could be used in the same way fidget mats, fidget blankets, fidget quilts and sensory activity aprons are used: as a resource to help with restlessness.


Has the fidget spinner craze given us anything apart from headaches? There were actually some pretty impressive spin-offs.

Despite the opposition to fidget spinners, some schools seized upon them as learning tools. They weren’t gadgets to demonise but to embrace and integrate into the curriculum.

Some schools have used the spinners for science, technology, maths, communication, teamwork and problem solving.

Some teachers have milked the moment to get their pupils measuring circumference, diameter, seconds of spin time and building their own spinners. Children have designed their own spinners using LEGO and they have designed their own using computer programmes providing valuable and high interest lessons in learning to code. Some have made their own using 3D printers too.

Other teachers have created fidget spinner challenges and created their own booklet of lessons as well as using them to inspire writing and speaking and listening debates as to their pros and cons.

Sometimes it is easy to miss the boat by implementing a blanket ban too soon – think of all the learning children could have enjoyed if you had put a positive spin on things?


Whatever the next craze and ‘must-have’ turns out to be, perhaps we shouldn’t be so eager to call them a menace until we have explored the ways in which we can utilise them as teaching and learning opportunities.

Sometimes fighting against the tide is pointless and counterproductive – it might be better to just go with the flow and adopt a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach and exploit the learning power of a fad as the educational value outweighs any distraction.

Fidget spinners haven’t been all bad, in many cases they have been real forces for good. It’s also worth remembering that they were originally designed as a therapeutic tool for children with ADD, ADHD and autism in order to support concentration skills so they still serve a strong purpose.

What is important now it to teach children that fidget spinners shouldn’t just be thrown away but disposed of with care so that their parts can be used to make something new and perhaps become part of a new craze!

Recycling can be additive too.

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