Sunday, July 16, 2017

Flexible Seating: What I'm Keeping; What I Ditched

Let's talk flexible seating! Some of you know I  changed my classroom into a flexible seating set up during the last school year. It was really exciting and so beneficial to my class. Once thing to think about if you are switching to  flexible seating for the first time, is that YOU, the teacher, need to be flexible. During the year some things were not working and I needed to change them up and some things worked great! I also implemented some new options too and I wanted to share with you what happened with my flexible seating last year. I also will share what I am keeping, what I ditched and why. Let's jump right in!

KEEPING
The most popular seating choice all year were the purple wobble stools. I got these from Scholastic and used lots and lots of Book Club points but they were well worth it. These are the Kore brand and are more affordable than some others. They can also be bought at Amazon.com. If you don't have a Scholastic account, try a Donor's Choose project to get them!



The low table was also a success.  I simply took the legs off of a round table and it was perfect for sitting on the floor. I bought these $5 chair cushions at Walmart. One lost its stuffing but I am keeping the other three cushions. Though they do get gross! Luckily, they are machine washable however.
Another fun and successful option were these inflatable cushions. They are also from Amazon.com and I got them in May from a Donor's Choose project. They were really popular. Students like to use them when sitting on the floor and often took them to sit on when using one of our traditional metal school chairs.
 
Also, super popular are stability ball chairs. I started the year with these two from Gaiam. Note the legs which are supposed to keep them from rolling around. I will be honest and tell you that they still roll, but maybe not so much as other stability balls. I found my students were very hard on the ball chairs and we lost the green ball chair in the early winter and the blue one in the later winter. I ended up getting a few more through that Donor's Choose Project, however. I think this year my students may not be so rough on the furniture but I am planning to be super strict - like "no bouncing!"Just sitting and moving around a little will give students a gentle bounce and they don't need to excessively bounce on purpose!
See? RIP Ball chair!
Also, I definitely love my stools from IKEA ($5 each last year). I forgot to take a picture but you can see them behind the ball chairs in the picture above. They work well, stack for storage/end of the day, and I bought them in spring 2016 and they are still going strong. If you don't have IKEA near you, here are some similar stools on Amazon.

This was my beach chair/coffee table set up. I am keeping it, but one of the beach chairs broke. We also used cushions to sit on the floor and even ball chairs here. It was pretty well received!
Bouncy Bands are staying too! I wrote a review of them on my blog so if you want to learn more, please click here! I was really pleased with them! They are much better than wrapping plain old exercise bands around chair legs.

KEEPING WITH MODIFICATIONS
Last fall I bought two IKEA side tables - each one was about $8 each at the time. One of them broke (see below)! So I am keeping the other table, but wanted to be honest that one of  them didn't make it a whole school year.
Keeping my tall table - seen here -not very glamorous with the fan - but it was great for storage (we put crates for clipboards and our Journeys books underneath) and it was used every day, especially by about four to five of my boys and two girls. They could stand for hours! What is the modification, you ask?
My mom and I spent about thirty minutes (and I spent about $10 at Home Depot) covering the tall table which was bumpy and stained with some wood grain sticky drawer liner, but within the first two days of school, look what my little friends began to do. BOO! Gradually, they took off about 30% of the covering, so my idea is just to rip off the rest and if kiddos want to use the tall table, it just won't look great but will be functional!
This little area of two desks was our "nut free" table. Anyone could sit at it during work time but at snack my student who had allergies sat there with a friend. I ended up taking the desks and putting them elsewhere (spread out) because some kiddos really needed desks by themselves. Instead I had a half of a hexagon table; however, this fall, I think I will move another over and make it a hexagon nut-free table!
Also keeping - but with some changes - Sit Spots! I got some in the spring of 2016 and used them that spring and all last year. They were awesome. Sit Spots worked great for keeping my students in their own spots, and not sitting too close to each other. It also helped prevent certain students from sitting really far away or far back because they wanted to disengage. I had a flexible seating in my classroom, but I assigned seats last year on the hearts. In order to pay attention, my students had to be seated in the best spot for them, and as second graders, they really needed my help figuring out where that was. One change for this school year is that I will be buying round Sit Spots. I loved the hearts because they went with our heart program (community building and behavior) but some students tended to pick at the pointy edges - even if they were supposed to be sitting on the hearts - and over time a few got ruined. I really loved them and talked to Beth from Flexible in First who also uses them and we discussed the shapes and after that I decided the circles may be the way to go! Check out my original review of Sit Spots here.


DITCHING
All four of these can be seen in this  image: beige camp chairs, IKEA cushions (heartm and tally marks) pink easel style table signs and the odd, half sphere shaped light which you can see on the table.
Why? One of the camp chairs broke in September and the other got pretty much trashed by my students (note to self - don't buy chairs in light colors).  I replaced them with $10 black folding chairs (cloth seats) from WalMart. I forgot to take a picture of them so I will have to wait until I can get in to my room in August and unpack to show you.  I had to throw out the pink table signs because they kept falling on the floor and broke (I had a few of them around the room).  The strange light from IKEA apparently only lit up when it was dark, but the room has huge windows so it was never dark enough for it to light up, and anyway, who needs a night light in school? (I thought it was a regular light when I bought it). I am putting away the cushions even though the kids loved them; however, because they loved them, students would become possessive of them and fight over where the cushion should be and who got to sit on it. 
Here's a closeup of the easel style signs. Oh well!
Also, the lollipop style signs are getting ditched too. The tops would come off of the sticks all the time. And though it was a cute idea, I don't really need addresses from children's literature as table names. We ended up using practical names like "beach chair table" anyway!

Also, this peanut ball chair by Gaiam was a great idea, but didn't last long with my very active group (maybe 2-3 months) and also in my opinion, took up too much space. It was pretty wide/long.
I actually ditched these purple containers a few months into the year. The problem was the cups never fit just right and children just threw things randomly into the cups anyway so there was no need to have them to sort out materials. My solution was that I bought simple gray plastic cups from tTarget and only kept pencils at each table. Crayons, markers and glue went back on our green art supplies bookshelf. It worked out just fine!

ADDING
I am so excited about Scoop Rockers! I got a set of 6 for about $50 from Amazon and found 4 more from my local Marshalls store! Can't wait!


NOT GETTING but INTRIGUING
 I am not getting these, but I saw them and was fascinated! I mean , who wouldn't want to hang in that sway chair? Reminds me of a cocoon! And that couch/chair! Is it a bean bag? Chair? Loveseat? Who knows but it kind of made me chuckle!

Let me know what flexible seating options  you are planning  for your classroom this year!  Best wishes!


                                                          

6 comments:

  1. This is a very helpful post!! I just got the scoop chairs too and hope they work out well.

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    1. Thank you - I am glad! Enjoy your scoop chairs!

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  2. Great information, Bex!! I use the bouncy bands, wobble stools, and stability disks in my classroom. I was considering adding lap desks. Have you considered those? Sometimes I see them offered at Aldi for a good price. Now that you posted about the scoop chairs, I am also intrigued.
    Sincerely,
    Emily
    scheinbere@hotmail.com

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    1. Hi Emily! Yay! Glad you stopped by! I actually forgot to mention, but i got three lap desks from Hobby Lobby for about $4.50 each about two months ago and I will give them a try! Great tip to look for them at Aldi - I have one near me but haven't gone in yet!

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  4. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! This is very helpful. I am starting flexible seating with my first graders and will be adding a few things to the mix.

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