Can we officially call the Pop It fidget toy the “it” toy of 2021? Whether you call it a Pop It, a popping fidget toy, a push bubble, or a fidget popper, this sensory toy that has little ‘bubbles’ that you can push through and ‘pop’ is EVERYWHERE – including classrooms throughout the country!
They were initially designed to provide a sensory and tactile experience to help children who may benefit from extra assistance to focus. But, like the fidget spinner, these Pop Its are quickly becoming a favorite toy for every kid. There’s plenty of evidence fidget toys help kids in the classroom — but what else can be done with these Pop Its? It turns out there are plenty of educational ways to use them!
Why not use this student obsession to your advantage in the classroom? We have brainstormed a number of fantastic activities that you could incorporate into your math centers, reading centers, or classroom brain breaks for a little bit of fun.
(Of course, they can still be used in the classroom as a fidget toy for those that really need it.)
Pop It Games for the Classroom
Pop It Multiplication Practice
Grab a dry erase marker, and write multiplication math facts on a Pop It. Kids can then use their Pop It like a word search … for math! When they spot a series of numbers that can be multiplied to make the final number, they pop down the bubbles!
A dry-erase marker will rub off, which means you can use the Pop it for other activities down the line. You can also use a Sharpie to make sure the number stick around.
We used our Phoneme Segmentation Flashcards, and have students push down on a ‘bubble’ for each phoneme they say.
All you need is a push bubble Pop It toy and two dice for a simple addition activity. Students can roll the dice and then push down the number of bubbles on the Pop It to show the total.
Addition Bingo Game
Need another addition game you can do with a Pop It? Print out basic math fact cards like the ones above, and write the answers randomly on Pop Its.
In math centers, have students use the cards to play a Bingo game, pressing down the answer if they have it. The first person to get a complete row of bubbles pushed down has Bingo!
On a piece of paper, write down coordinates to add to the outside of a Pop It. In pairs, one student can add a pom-pom to one bubble and the other student needs to provide the coordinate for that pom-pom. You could even give them a coordinate, and direct them to find that bubble and put a pom-pom on that coordinate.
Why not replicate Battleship for your older students?
Use our CVC Word Building activity for some fantastic CVC image cards and matching letters. Students can pick an image, find the matching letters to create the matching CVC words and then use the ‘buttons’ on the Pop It to sound out the word.
Okay, we got a little excited when we figured out that the little pom-poms you can buy fit perfectly in the ‘bubble’ when flipped upside down.
Using tongs or clothespins, students need to pick up pom-poms and fill up every bubble of the Pop It. Think about what muscles your students need development in; the opening and closing of tongs and clothespins use different muscles.
Even the general ‘popping’ of this fidget toy is good for general fine motor skills too…
Reinforce your students’ knowledge of skip counting by using a Pop It. Students can push down on a bubble as they count by 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s, etc.
Simple Number Recognition
Students roll a die and then push that many bubbles on the Pop It. A great number recognition activity for early learning.
For larger numbers, you could use some Number Flashcards in a similar way.
Use our coding direction cards for a fun activity for your little coders. Place two mini objects in a Pop It (upside down). In pairs, one student needs to use the direction cards to explain to the other student how to get from one object to the other.
Explore Syllables in Words
Use our Syllable Clip Cards for a fantastic hands-on activity.
Students pick a card and clap out the syllables, next they push on a ‘bubble’ for each syllable. Finally, they can put a clothespin on the correct number of syllables on the cards. Fine motor, repetition, and syllables all in one – genius!
Using simple multiplication facts, students need to show the multiplication fact using arrays by pushing down the correct number of bubbles to find the product.
You may like to use our collection of Hooray Arrays worksheets in conjunction with this activity:
In pairs, students use one Pop It and a couple of small items that will fit nicely under the ‘bubbles’, anything like pom-poms, rocks, buttons, or beads. One student needs to look at what is under the Pop It and then place it back down and close their eyes. The other partner removes one item and then places the Pop It back down.
The first student needs to work out what item has been removed.
Follow a Pattern
In pairs, one student creates a pattern with the popping bubble toy – it may be pushing down one bubble, then two bubbles, then one… etc. The other student then needs to deduce the ‘rule’ for the pattern and repeat it.
Have your students write a persuasive letter convincing you or the principal that students should or should not be allowed to bring Pop Its to school.
Tip: Use persuasive planning templates to help your students plan out their arguments.
Pop It Game
This is a great game for the students to play during a brain break or even for a warm-up.
You play this game in pairs. Each pair will have a push bubble fidget toy. The first player pops down as many ‘bubbles’ as they want, though it must be in the same line. The next player goes and does the same thing, they can pop as many or as little as they like, but it must be within a line. The aim of the game is to NOT be the last player popping a bubble. For those on TikTok – check out this video from @tipsfromatypicalmom.