Flexible seating doesn't have to break your bank account. Sure, we'd all love to get a $5,000 grant to transform our classrooms-- but that probably won't happen. So instead, I wanted to share some simple and effective ways to introduce flexible seating options into your room without having to buy stock in IKEA.
Personally, I LOVE flexible seating. Although if I'm going to be technical, I prefer the term flexible learning spaces because it needs to be more than just what they're sitting on. It should include spaces within the room that can facilitate learning, collaboration, and problem-solving.
This year the fifth grade team at my school decided to give flexible seating a try. Each teacher came in with some different ideas that they wanted to try and incorporate; the results have been pretty incredible.
And remember, none of the teachers spent large sums of money either. Instead they repurpose furniture, reclaimed old basement items, and scored big at garage sales. Shiny and new only lasts so long in a school...with students...so don't go spending big bucks when you don't have to.
Dropping the table heights (above) and adding miniature rugs was one option. Many students love to sit criss-cross or stretch their legs, which ends up being perfect. (Below) The classic yoga ball, which was one of the precursors to flexible seating.
These barca-loungers were being thrown out over the summer. Teachers can't pass up free, so they picked them up, sanded them down, and painted a couple of coats on.
(Above) This is an old primary-age table used with $10 IKEA chairs.
This is possibly my favorite flexible seating option-- this desk is incredible! It's low to the ground, has a slanted top, and kids can stretch their legs out. Chances are this was originally made for little first graders, but it works well for upper elementary kids. Vintage can be new again. Unless there was a La-Z-Boy around, this would be my first option.
Don't get stuck with the mindset that flexible seating MUST be with brand new furniture. The best forms of flexible seating isn't the tool, it is the ability to give students options.
This table (above) was sitting in my basement, when I decided to offer it up to one of the teachers for their room. It's about 40 year old and works like a charm, plus there's a leaf that you can add into the middle.
Bar stools and high tables. You can set them in the back so they see over other tables or set them around the edges. Whatever works, but you're living the high life (yeah, I know...total dad joke).
When you think about flexible seating do not get caught up in the brand new shiny items. Chances are pretty good that many items from your basement, the scary closet at school, or even a garage sale.
These fifth grade teachers have found that some students that still crave the "classic desk" too, so you might want to keep a couple around. Flexible seating is a constantly evolving process for every classroom. How many of us need to rearrange desks because we're never happy?
You can find more from me at Digital: Divide & Conquer where I tackle project based learning, technology, and the space in between.