Elementary Featured Innovation

Flexible Seating: Here We Go!

Written by Carolyn Grumm

This is an edit of the blog Flexible Seating: Here We Go! posted on Lives of Learning.

 

Pintrest, Twitter and blogs inspired me to make this move and have helped me find my way. And Ikea too. I thought I’d share my own journey into flexible seating in case it may be a help to others.

How I Got Here

This was my first year teaching 2nd grade and when I moved into my new room I told my principal I didn’t want desks: I wanted tables. It was a great decision.

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Book cover chair pockets

My kids had chair pockets to hold classwork and a book to read as well as a pencil box. Text books were kept in the cupboard. Scissors and glue were kept on the counter. I loved it. We changed seats in 2 minutes by simply moving chairs and pencil boxes. We rearranged tables to make room for rainy day Go Noodle sessions and students were seated in collaborative tables, not individual desks.

Already having gotten rid of desks, and seeing how well we did without desk space, has helped me realize how do-able flexible seating is.

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Pintrest: Where Teachers Beg Borrow and Steal Ideas

 

Why Flexible Seating

I think I first heard about flexible in my Twitter feed. The more I thought about it and searched hashtags and Pintrest boards and researched articles, the more it made sense to me.  It makes sense to give my students the option to be more comfortable, more engaged, more responsible, more human.

Our Setup

I’ve created four different seating areas for the kids. I kept 3 of our tables at regular height. Kids can sit in a chair, or on one of the 4 low stools I bought. ($5 at Ikea!)

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I rearranged our furniture to give us a more rug space. If I can do it in our tiny room anyone can! Pillows, cushions and lap desks have been added on since the beginning. To start we had clipboards and the fleece blankets we use when we go outside.

 

 

 

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Our amazing custodian helped me swap out our kidney table for this long table that I put up on bed raisers. Kids can stand up here, or sit on one of the tall stools. We started with 4, but now we have 6.

 

 

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I took the legs off of 2 of our tables. We now have chair cushions for these tables, but we started with some of our fleece blankets for kids to sit on.

Rules and Procedures

My students now have assigned seats on the rug.  This is where we gather when we need everyone in the same place. We’ll probably have more instruction time on the rug, and I feel like we could use the structure of assigned seats.

In our first week every student tried every type of seat. We have 4 rows of students on the rug and 4 types of seating. On Monday the front row will use the low desks, on Tuesday they’ll get the high desks . . . . by Friday students will have tried all of the seating areas and be ready (hopefully) to choose their own seat.

Students are told, “Choose a seat where you work well.” and “Ms. Grumm may change your seat at any time.” I tell them they may choose a different seat from day to day and from activity to activity but that they shouldn’t switch seats in the middle of an activity unless there is a big reason. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Shopping List

Things I already had, or scrounged up:

  • a class set of pencil boxes
  •  a class set of clipboards
  • a class set of fleece blankets (they used to be just for outdoor use)
  • 3 inflatable balance cushions
  • 3 regular height tables
  • 2 tables that I removed the legs from to make them short
  • 1 long table I raised up to be a standing table

Things I purchased to get us started:

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26 Book Bins from Lakeshore : along with the pencil boxes we already have, this is where students will keep their materials

 

 

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4 Marius stools from Ikea: these are the perfect height to put at our regular height desks as a seating alternative to chairs

 

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4 Raskog bar stools from Ikea: these taller stools should be perfect as a seating option at our taller “standing” table

 

 

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8 outdoor chair cushions from Bed Bath and Beyond: I’ll have these available for kids to use at the low table or if they’re working on the rug.

 

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4 Letter Square Throw Pillows from Bed Bath and Beyond: These should be great for kids to use to lean up against the wall, or spread out on the floor.

 

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4 Lap Trays from Autism-products.com: We’ll have these for students who choose to work on the rug

 

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1 set of Bed Raisers from Bed Bath and Beyond: I used these on our long table to raise it up 5 inches to make our standing table

 

Things I’ve collected since:

  • A large rug from Lakeshore (thanks to our parents via Donors Choose)

 

Things I still want:

  • Wobble Chairs: I think I can handle these better than ball

Learn More about our Flexible Seating

Check our Carolyn Grumm’s blog Lives Of Learning to read more.

About the author

Carolyn Grumm