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5 DIY Fidget Toys You Can Make at Home

Fidget toys can help children and adults with anxiety, ADHD and other stress-related triggers. Here's how to make your own fidget toys at home.

Hedy Phillips CNET Contributor
Hedy Phillips is a freelance lifestyle writer based in New York. While she's not writing on topics like living on a budget and tips for city dwelling, she can usually be found at a concert or sightseeing in a new city. Over the past 10 years, her bylines have appeared in a number of publications, including POPSUGAR, Hunker, and more.
Hedy Phillips
5 min read
hand holding homemade stress balls
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Fidget toys can be useful gadgets for children and adults alike, especially those who have ADHD or anxiety. Both disorders can make it hard for people to concentrate. With the use of a fidget toy, they can sometimes busy their hands or minds with something trivial, opening the door for better concentration. While the research on the efficacy of these fidget toys is limited, some studies have found that these gadgets actually do help. You can even make fidget toys at home.

What is a fidget toy? 

Fidget toys are small toys that encourage hand movements to ease anxiety, boredom, stress and other related concerns and feelings. These toys, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, are believed by some to help alleviate something like anxiety by keeping your hands and brain busy focusing on a mindless task.

Fidget spinners are one of the most popular fidget toys on the market after seeing a huge boom in popularity a few years ago. These small toys were easy enough for people, especially children, to hold in their hands and spin around when they were feeling anxious. 

There haven't been a lot of studies yet on fidget toys and their effect on anxiety, but more and more scientists are examining the relationship between the two. Researchers at UC Santa Cruz and the UC Davis MIND Institute began studying this link in 2020, and some preliminary research prior to this suggested that fidgeting could, in fact, help children with ADHD improve cognitive function.

Another study from 2018 also looked at fidget spinners, but rather than examining their effects on anxiety, it took a look at whether or not they could improve fine motor skills. The research found that there was an improvement in these skills, but researchers also noted that the improvement appeared to be greater among those test subjects with ADHD.

5 easy DIY fidget toys 

Sure, you can buy fidget toys in stores, but they're easy and quick to make at home and only require craft supplies. Typically, this is inexpensive and can be modified based on what you have available and what you need.

Below you'll find a couple of quick DIYs for your own fidget toys, plus a few places you can buy similar items online. Here's how to make easy DIY fidget toys.

Stress ball

background with the necessary products to make homemade stress balls
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You've probably seen stress balls on TV and in stores, but it's easy to make one yourself. It only takes a few minutes to pull together. 

What you'll need:

  • A balloon
  • A funnel
  • Flour

Using the funnel, scoop a little less than a cup of flour into a deflated balloon until it's full. Tie off the top of the balloon. That's all it takes to make a stress ball that you can squeeze any time you need it. If you want more texture, you can also add beads or beans into the balloon.

Zipper bracelet

Plastic zipper bracelet
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Zipper bracelets double as a fun accessory and a fidget toy. You're essentially turning a zipper into a bracelet that can be zipped up and down over and over without actually coming off your wrist.

What you'll need:

  • Zipper
  • Fastener
  • Needle and thread

There are a few different ways you can put this bracelet together. If you have no sewing supplies or skills, you can simply take the zipper and tie it around your wrist and knot the end. Just make sure the zipper pull is on your wrist before you cut off any excess. Also, keep in mind that this makes the bracelet harder to take on and off. 

If you can sew a clasp onto the ends with a needle and thread, find something simple, like a keyring clasp and ring and sew one piece onto either end of the zipper. If you have a sewing machine, you could even sew a bit of elastic between the two ends of the zipper to make a stretchy bracelet that slips on and off. 

Dice cube

Hand holding infinity cube dice

For a dice cube, you might already have all the supplies at home. This small toy only takes two materials and will keep your hands busy trying to manipulate the dice into numerous configurations.

What you'll need:

  • Eight dice
  • Tape

Following this tutorial, simply use small pieces of tape to tape all the dice together into an infinity cube. And if you decide you need the dice for their original use (maybe you took them from a board game), you can just peel the tape off and retape them again later.

Beaded keyrings

Key rings connected

Just add beads

Getty Images/Jorg Greuel/DigitalVision

Beaded keyrings are easy to put together for kids to play with and can be worn like rings. This is another fidget toy that only takes two materials.

What you'll need:

  • Keyring
  • Pony beads

Slide one or two pony beads onto a keyring (you might have to use a tool to pry open the keyring) so that they're all the way on and can be spun around. That's it! 

You can wear these on a finger to give your other fingers something to do if you're restless. For adults who want a more refined version of this, plenty of Etsy sellers make fidget rings for anxiety and even to help you stop picking at your fingers.

Chewable necklaces

Wooden beads on a necklace
Getty Images/Catherine Lamothe-Sauvé/EyeEm

Similarly, these necklaces can be made for kids or adults, depending on who needs them. These can provide sensory help for those who rely on their mouths during bouts of anxiety or sensory overload.

What you'll need:

  • Wooden beads or nuts
  • Thick fabric, like fleece
  • Needle 
  • Thread

There are a few ways you can make one of these fidget toys. You can take a piece of fabric that's 3 inches wide and long enough to make a necklace and fold it in half while it's inside out and sew up one of the long sides to make a tube. Flip it right side out and slide in a nut or large wooden bead. Tie the fabric in a knot on either side so the bead stays in place. Add a few more, tying knots on either side. Then you can tie the ends together to make the necklace. Just make sure it's long enough to slip over a child's head to take it on and off.

For adults, you can either make your own necklace with a chewable dangle or buy something already made on Etsy.

Are fidget toys just for anxiety? 

Fidget toys can be used by anyone for a number of reasons. While they're often used by kids who have anxiety or ADHD, adults experience many of these things as well and may also find help in a fidget toy. These toys are great for teachers to have on hand in their classrooms. Many people on the autism spectrum may also find that fidget and stim toys provide an outlet as well.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.