Monday, October 13, 2008

Stress Balls for ADHD Kids

One of the things I enjoy about this job is how much the kids teach you about teaching. I don't mean learning from experience; I mean when they come right out and tell you solutions that other teachers have used. One bouncy kid actually asked me to make him a behavior contract to sign, saying "It helps me behave."

At the beginning of the year many of my ADHD and/or extrabouncy kids told me that stress balls really help, so I went around looking for them (lately I haven't been thinking far enough ahead to order things online as I should). First I bought some squashy balls from Walgreens, but I'm on my second set now. If you want to do this in your classroom here are some things to consider.

1) Stress balls are something you'll see in stores occasionally, but its really hard to go looking for them. Order online, or look at Party City, where I found these balls (note to self: PC by JoAnn's, 5th aisle, halfway down on LHS):

2) Get unpopular styles. My Walgreen balls were Disney themed - Cars, Toy Story, and Winnie-the-Pooh. They disappeared very quickly, with Cars going first, then Toy Story, and Winnie-the-Pooh balls getting stolen when I had a substitute. Party City had squashy sports balls but I've learned my lesson now.

3) Make sure they don't do any of the following things: bounce, make noise when squashed, make noise when rubbed against a smooth surface like a desk, come apart easily, or seem interesting in any way. I nearly bought some squashy balls before I realized they were the "inside-out" balls that can be turned inside out and stretched over the head, with gel spikes sticking out everywhere. Huge catastrophe averted!

4) Don't let them take them home. It seems obvious, but when a kid says "If this is only for me can I keep it in my backpack?" and you're in a hurry, don't say yes!

5) Either clean them every day or buy one per student. I will be labeling mine A-L and listing which kid can use each one.

6) Keep them in the front of the room. Even though its more disruptive, make the kids come up to the front to get them and put them away. Anything not tied down is fun to steal for those 1-2 immature kids per class.

Overall the kids are very grateful that you went out of the way to get stress balls for them, though at the beginning everyone will ask for one. I suggest making them come after school to ask for one, which is what I am going to do. That cuts down on kids that just want to waste class time.


Bea said...

LOL - We had one of those inside out hair "balls." Definitely not practical for a classroom full of kids, but it was so much fun to squish around. Maybe keep one around as a special reward for someone who is being extra EXTRA good. But then I suppose they'd just want to wear it. Ah well. :)

By the by, if you want to go easy on germs, and they aren't too expensive, my doctor uses the cheap rubber gloves as a cover for his stress ball. Just toss it when you're done. Might come in handy during cold and flu season. :) :) :)

Reflective Teacher said...

Wonderful idea! I have a few students in my class who seem to need something to do with their hands constantly. One shreds paper and pokes holes in his binder, so I'm going to really have to set down guidelines with him (i.e. you damage it, you clean it and make me a new one). The other will borrow things off of my desk to figit with, which is honestly quite distracting for me.

I just came up with the idea of giving them stress balls today. If you search "how to make stress balls" you can come up with a couple of ways to make them using flour, cornstarch, or rice and a balloon. Thanks for some ideas on guidelines!

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beckyferguson said...

My 8 yr old adhd girl has an impossible time sitting still to read. I gave her some silly putty, told her to put both hands on it and keep it under the table. I put the book in front of her on the table. The result was amazing!!! Her hands were going the whole time, but the rest of her stayed still!! Best of all she could concentrate soooo much better and did 10 times better on her reading! That made me think of stress balls because of course silly putty would not work in school. Thanks for your info!!!

aldrin james said...

Stress Balls is one of the famous stress reliever. I do use it to feel better if I have stress. I believe this will also work for those kinds of kids.

releasing stress

Jocelyn Moreno said...

I've never thought of using stress ball for ADHD students as a tool to help them focus. I think it's a great idea having students come after school to ask for a stress ball and not just assuming which students need them. Do you find that even after making the stress balls as boring as possible, that students are still being distracted by them? My suggestion would be to limit the stress balls for tests, presentations, or any other individual work (of course make exceptions for those who benefit from using the stress balls more frequently). Have one bucket where students return them or even clear pouches like ones used for calculators for a quick count check.