3 Creative Ways to Help Distracted Students Stay Engaged

The most responsible vehicles to maintaining an engaged classroom are:

  • your amazing, hands-on, gradual released lesson
  • your cultivated relationships with students
  • your established and consistent expectations

But, what happens when you have student who needs a little more help staying engaged? Aside from removing him from the class (and your lesson) and sending him to a buddy room, or worse, the principal’s office, what can you do?

There are tricks and tools you can employ to assist even the most fidgetiest (not a word) of fidgeters. I found these in my school and they are used daily.

Create a “Maker Space.”

The “Maker Space” is an ingenious area created by our librarian and housed in the library. She begged, borrowed and stole ideas, activities and crafts from others who created this space in their schools. She also utilized a GoFundMe account and bought some high-dollar items such as a 3D printer, a substantial Apple computer and 3D pens.

She has a large variety of activities (both supervised and unsupervised) that students can tinker with if they finish a test or assignment early or are granted Maker Space time by a teacher for paying attention. She also has STEM challenges each nine-week period where students compete for prizes.

maker space for distracted students

Bribery is a great way to get students to finish an assignment (I say this half jokingly). You can also chart behavior and classwork goals for students with the incentive being Maker Space time.

Movement Tools

For the fidgeters, there are wobble stools and wiggle donuts for use when the expectation is they remain seated. These tools allow students an opportunity to wiggle and wobble without disturbing the rest of the class.

tools for distracted students

tools for distracted students


You may also want to create a special place in your class and add a love seat or web chair for those who need an alternate seating arrangement to be successful. Make it a happy spot and not one which is created as punishment.


tools for distracted students

A Safe Place

We are very fortunate to have a School Resource Officer (police officer) who is housed in our school and takes a keen interest in all of the students. She gravitates toward those who need extra behavioral attention and does a great job with them. One of her tools in her office is a basketball arcade game.

tools for distracted students

Students visit her on a regular basis to shoot some hoops and talk about things that are going on in their lives. She also tracks students down for a quick check to see how things are going. Her ability to forge solid relationships with students demonstrates where her heart lies and may assist in creating student trust with those in blue.


There are many other methods used with students who need help being still. What tricks or tools of the trade do you use to work with fidgety students?

3 Creative Ways to Help Distracted Students Stay Engaged