Over the summer I had been reading about "flexible seating" and seeing on Instagram how other teachers were implementing it. So I started stocking up on various seating options: lap desks from Hobby Lobby, yoga balls from Amazon (these come with a stand!), a new rug from Walmart, and bean bag chairs from Walmart. It wasn't enough to officially start the seating-- but at least I was stockpiling for the future!
The school year began and I had 26 students and 27 sets of desks and chairs. The room was so crowded that I could barely walk around to help everyone! After a week I decided I couldn't handle it anymore-- so I went hardcore and set up a Donor's Choose project! After sharing on Facebook, I had 4 loving donors fund my project! Now I was ready to begin!
Here are the steps I recommend when transitioning into flexible seating:
1) Ask your principal and stockpile seating options (I will list mine at the end if you need ideas). Also, research seating options and keep a list of ideas you love!
2) Buy seating options yourself or use a program like Donor's Choose to be funded!
3) Prep your students! We talked about flexible seating before it started. To this day we are still talking about what we did right and how we can improve! I used this FREEBIE from TPT and had my students sign a contract. It also has a great mini book! I bought this product from TPT to create posters for my walls!
4) Have a place for students to store their supplies! I bought this cubbie shelf from Walmart and assigned 2 students per basket (baskets came from Amazon). I attached tags and the students keep a folder and their pencil boxes in them.
5) Have a place for students to keep unfinished work (a folder, clipboard, basket, etc.)
6) Have a place to store students' extra supplies (extra pencils, expo markers, crayons, etc.). At the beginning of the year I gave each student a ziplock with their name on it. I keep those baggies in a sterilite shelf with drawers.
7) Have a place for students to keep books. I bought those cheap sets of book boxes from IKEA.
8) Practice. On everything. And have them demonstrate the "right way" and "wrong way". Get it out of their systems early on.
9) Get rid of those terrible desks and go for it! They will be so excited!
Here are some tips I think you can use:
1) Assign your students a "home" spot. My students sit at their home spot every morning when they come into the classroom for breakfast and morning work. I will have them sit at their "home" spot when we have substitutes.
2) Have a strategy for letting students pick their seat for the day. After breakfast every day I call my students to their floor spot. Then I pull a student name out of a jar-- and I cross that name off a list and that student gets first seat choice of the day (this way every student gets a chance to go first) I start to give the students their name tags (a few at a time) and they insert their tag into a Target adhesive pocket (the ones sold in the dollar spot this summer). I use these square name tags and I haven't had a problem!
Plus it helps me remember who is sitting at each seat when students leave the room! Some teachers use a clip chart or magnet board to choose seats. If you look closely at my tables you can see the clear pockets for the student tags.
3) Only let them choose a new spot once a day. Otherwise they will try to switch every hour. Every. Hour.
4) Don't be afraid to move someone to a new spot. Sometimes they just need a reminder and it helps the others remember to listen or be quieter.
5) Practice transitions.
6) Have students take their pencil boxes and book boxes to their chosen seat for the day. This will help keep traffic flow down after you've begun a lesson and they realize they need a pencil.
Here is a list of most of the items I use in my classroom (I'll try to provide links if possible-- some purchases were made in store):
- 5 yoga balls (Amazon)
- Two 30x60" tables from Lakeshore (I specifically chose one regular height for yoga balls and one low table for floor seating)
- Closemaid Storage Bench (Amazon)
- Rolling Cart (Amazon) (I keep our Interactive Notebooks in tubs on the cart)
- 2 wobble cushions (Amazon)
- 5 memory foam bath mats (Amazon)
- 2 yoga mats (Walmart)
- 1 laundry hamper to hold the yoga mats (Amazon)
- 2 gaucho stools (18") height (Amazon)
- 4 18x18" pillows (from Amazon and Walmart)
- 1 steel tub to hold the pillows (Amazon)
- Various bookshelves to hold community supplies and books
- 2 bean bag chairs (Walmart)
- Lap Desks (Hobby Lobby)
- A kitchen table (purchased for $20 from online yard sale)
- 2 IKEA stools
- 1 large area rug (for our "meeting" spot)
- 4 traditional desks/chairs
- 1 coffee table (Walmart)
- 1 small table provided by the school
- 1 large round table provided by the school
- 6 crate seats (a summer project from last year)
What are the most popular seats? The yoga balls and the kitchen table (the kids love the stools!). So I would definitely recommend to plan on their popularity! Least popular are the desks (go figure).
Now for my favorite part-- classroom pics!
I hope this post has given you some ideas! My students love it. We aren't perfect at it-- but every day we get a little better. If you have any questions leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer them as quickly as possible!