Flexible Seating in All Settings

Helpful hints and tips for how to incorporate flexible seating into any elementary classroom!

 

If you have only ever imagined a classroom as the traditional desks and chairs in rows facing a chalkboard, you might be asking, what is flexible seating?

Flexible seating is exactly what it sounds like! It is a seating arrangement designed for children to be able to move more freely than the traditional desks and rows layout. This can include cushions on the floor, wobbly chairs, couches, and many more!

The first time my mom came to visit my fourth grade classroom, where I exclusively use flexible seating, she was sitting at my teacher table and laughing to herself. When I asked her what was funny, she explained that from the moment the kiddos had come in and sat down, she noticed that they had not stopped wiggling. They were still very focused on the instruction and the collaborative conversation with their peers, but they were also moving the ENTIRE TIME. That is the beauty of flexible seating, the children get to act like the wiggly little munchkins they are without disturbing my instruction or their peers around them.

Setting up a classroom this way can seem intimidating because of the potential cost and possible loss of control with the children having a lot more freedom to move. Or if you are OCD about your classroom organization like me, it might give you a stress headache thinking about a crazy variety of seats being all over the place. But if you decide flexible seating is something that works for your behavior management style, with a little planning, it is possible with all age levels and teaching styles!

 

Primary

When I taught kindergarten, I wanted my children to become familiar and comfortable with sitting in chairs but I was also aware that they are babies, some of whom had never been in an educational setting before. I chose to have half typical seating and half flexible seating.

During direct instruction, my students sat on Sit Spots. As a new teacher, I couldn’t afford a rug and the Sit Spots were a great alternative! They gave the babies a specific spot that was all their own while allowing me to place them in a way that little Billy John Joe wasn’t close enough to poke Anna May.

When the children completed classwork or took assessments, (yes, even in kindergarten we gave them pencil and paper tests. Don’t even get me started!) they had assigned seats at tables. This way they got used to sitting in a chair appropriately as they would be asked to do regularly throughout their lives.

But during centers time, they had a variety of seating to try!

 

Math Center:

IKEA outdoor seat cushions – $5.99 each

I love these because they often come in bright, fun colors, and because they are made for outside, they are very durable!

 

 

 

Computer Center:

Bouncy Bands – $14.99 each

I get my Bouncy Bands from Amazon. I love them because they are fairly easily attach to the bottom of chairs and they allow the children to bounce their feet without noise. I prefer the Bouncy Bands brand over the cheaper knock-offs on Amazon because from my experience, Bouncy Bands last longer and they don’t slide down.

 

Teacher Table:

Gaiam children’s yoga balls – $20 each

They are a little pricey at $20 – $30 a pop, but I prefer the Gaiam brand over the cheaper ones because they have little legs so they don’t roll all over the place. I was able to use mine for 4 years before needing to replace them and they can easily be wiped down to prevent spreading germs.

With each of these options, especially in primary, you will need to slowly introduce them to your students. As you can see in my August classroom picture above, I didn’t have any flexible seating out yet. Start with your floor seating, showing the children exactly how you expect them to sit. I personally used a little chant that you can find here! Move to their regular seats, reminding them that you expect to see their chair legs on the floor or maybe that you expect chairs pushed in when they leave. And eventually, you can have them try out the other options!

 

 

Intermediate

As an intermediate teacher, I decided I wanted every seat in my classroom to be a flexible seat! In my personal opinion, children today are asked to sit for way too long with far too little recess time. I wanted my “big kids” to have plenty of freedom to move.

I went with four table groups in my classroom with enough seating to hold 24 students.

 

Teacher Table:

IKEA stools – $5.99

These stools are great because they are cheap and narrow, so you can fit several of them at the same table! The only problem I have found is you have to tighten the bolts fairly often, because if they come lose, they legs bend and can break.

 

Table 1:

Wobble cushions – $15 – $18 each

I got some of my wobble cushions from Amazon and others from a teammate who donated her old ones. They last forever and are not easily popped by a stray pencil on the floor!

 

Table 2:

Gaiam yoga balls – $20 – $30

I used some of the same ones from my kindergarten classroom and bought a couple larger sizes so there would be a variety of heights for my “big kids”.

 

Table 3:

Crate seating – $10 – $30

I am very blessed to have family members that craft because if I tried to make these myself, it would have been a disaster! But the basic breakdown is a plastic crate, a square piece of plywood on the top, stuffing, and fabric. The price depends on what materials you use, but the nice thing is you can change out the fabric as often as you want and the seat makes great storage!

 

Table 4:

Bouncy Bands – $15

I used the same ones from my kindergarten class, just buying a few extra. I have never had to replace any of them!

 

Cool Down Spot:

Amazon cushions– $13.99

This was an AWESOME find! These cushions are super comfortable, fit my rustic classroom theme, and the kids loved them!

 

Computer Center:

Target storage stools – $30

I bought these online from Target and they are wonderful for storage! Forewarning, I did have a child fall off the back because he chose to rock in them and the top slid off, but as long as your big kiddos sit the way they know they are supposed to sit, they should be fine!

 

 

Getting flexible seating can definitely be pricey initially, but your students will appreciate the chance to get their wiggles out throughout the day!

For my classroom management packet, including flexible seating directions, click here!

 

Send me your favorite flexible seating tool by DM-ing me @MyJuniorBurgers on Instagram!

 


Follow Me!

© 2021  My Junior Burgers