This article is talking about working adults playing with items that might increase creativity, or help with focusing. So I would like to know if you think any of these manipulators would work with your students.
- Rubber toy/ball which can be squeezed to vent frustration or lighten the mood. (Would your students throw it?)
- Pen ( could you stand having students clicking a retractable point pen over and over? This is to help the mind sustain attention through mundane tasks. (Just imaging over 30 of these pens clicking at one time...)
- Magnets (as long as your students would not swallow them - they are highly toxic.)
- Sandbox. "Playing with sand is relaxing and can spark conversation." (I personally would not allow this at each desk. But sending a child to the sand station might be an option.)
- Smooth stones. (Again as long as a student would not throw the stones it might work.) I would recommend they keep in their pocket or in their desk.)
- Clothes pin. "randomly attaching a pin to another object, such as a pencil, helps an office worker avoid zoning out when bored." So this makes me wonder are many students acting out because they are bored? Are teachers talking too much? What would happen if you had that distracted student teach the class?
- Slinky (I would avoid this as they are easily broken if pulled.)
- Coat toggle This is a great idea as long as it is cold enough for coats. I teach in CA so this would only be a good option for a few month.
So the research says that "certain kinds of hand movements have an impact on cognitive functioning, improving focus or sparking fresh thinking or faster learning." So it might benefit you class to have object to move, click, squeeze, poke, feel...