Simple Start to Flexible Seating for Young Learners - Mrs. B's First Grade

Simple Start to Flexible Seating for Young Learners

Have you heard about flexible seating? It seems like everywhere I look I see teachers talking about it. Want to give it a try? Learn how I maintain a simple version of it my classroom!
Flexible seating has taken the teaching world by storm in an effort to make our classrooms more student centered. Think about where you work best. Is it at the exact same spot all day long where you have been told to sit? Is that spot a hard chair and a desk or table that you can not maneuver in any way? Probably not! If you wouldn't want to work in an environment like that, how can we expect our students to?
Just say no to seating in rows!
If you want to try to implement more flexible seating, there is not one right way to do it. You can make it work best for you! I have taken a little twist on flexible thinking to work with my young students. I teach my students that I want them to sit where they can do their best work. I give my instructions for each activity with my students either at their tables or at the carpet. Then, when they are ready to work independently, I let them know which flexible seating choices are open. We spend a lot of time in the beginning of the year practicing going to those spots. We see what they look and sound like when being used responsibly.

Many classrooms that have flexible seating options have no assigned seats. Students are free to sit where they would like and where they feel most comfortable. For me, I have had trouble embracing that idea fully with my young first graders. I have found that my students take comfort in having a spot that is theirs. I have also found that life with young students can be more manageable when they have a spot that they know and can return to quickly.

In my (tiny) classroom I have several tables for my students to sit at. I put their name on the back of their chair and that is technically their seat. I find this extremely helpful in the early days of the year because it helps them to have a spot while I take my time in explaining how flexible seating works.
Names on the back of chairs!
You may be wondering where my students keep their supplies if they just have a chair with their name on the back. I have done seat pockets before, but they are expensive and get messy. I have a rainbow cart for community supplies if we need them. My students keep a pencil at their desk with these awesome cord clips. Then, they used these blue boxes from Lakeshore Learning Store for the rest of their supplies. That's all they need! I do not have my students bring tons of supplies, and encourage them to stay organized. It works perfectly!
Cord Clips
Student's blue boxes for supplies.
Along with my tables (they often move their chairs around and sit where they would like) I have a few other choices for my students to choose from when working. My students have access to yoga mats, scoop rockers, ottomans, and pillows. They each have their own clipboard that they can grab when working at these areas. I know it doesn't sound like much, but I think it is just the right amount of choice for my young friends. Plus, it is all that will fit in my room!

I bought my yoga mats from TJ Maxx. You can usually get them for $7.99. My scoop rockers came from Wal-Mart and were only $4.88. I have heard of a lot of people finding them from Aldi also. My ottomans are from Target. I have bought them during the back to school craze in the dorm section. My pillow cases this past year came from Wal-Mart. I think they were around $3.00 each, but they were cute!
Yoga Mats and Pillows
Scoop Rockers
Black Ottoman
How do you incorporate flexible seating? I am always looking for new and fresh ideas to engage my learners. I would love to hear!

UPDATE!! I have made charts for my students to show where they are sitting. We add our initials and change them weekly. You can download the charts by clicking the pictures below! 

12 comments

  1. Hi Friend! Great post! I do flexible seating too, but was wondering how I would start the year since I didn't start the year last year with flexible seating. I also do like the idea of them having their own spot and may move to a more traditional+flexible seating room. There is something to be said about having them their own table spot to go to. I'll have to think about it. I use book boxes and shared supplies too. I'd love to incorporate more pillows, but am nervous about lice, we get it quite a bit. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!
    Paige
    Our Elementary Lives

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    1. Thanks Paige!! I think it works so much better when they do have their own spot. I would like it to be 100% flexible, but I'm just not ready to go there yet. Especially at the beginning of the year! Totally get it about the lice. Luckily we do not have a lot of trouble with that!

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  2. I would love to do flexible seating but I don't think my district would approve.

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    1. That is too bad. : ( It stinks when we feel restricted to do what we know is best for kids! Maybe it is worth showing them the evidence of it being effective?

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  3. Love the idea of using cord clips to hold pencils!! Great thinking!

    Jordan
    Team J's Second Grade Fun

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    1. Thanks!! They worked so well. You just have to warn the kids not to pick at them. If they do, they stick right back on with hot glue!

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  4. Such a great post! Thank you explaining it so clearly! I currently have the rug and chairs for the students to sit. I also have pillows that I got for free. I proposed a Donors Choose project to add the yoga balls this year. I really like the way you store the kiddies supplies in the blue boxes from Lakeshore. I will have to look into that. Thank you again for sharing so many amazing ideas! Great post Love! I know you are going to rock this year!
    Love,
    ~Elizabeth

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    1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth!! It sounds like you are off to a great start with your choices for students. It can be a lot to collect, so starting simple is the way to go! I love the blue boxes from Lakeshore. They are more expensive than others, but have the durability to last and last! YOU are going to rock this year!! XO

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  5. SARAH! This is a great post! I LOVE the genius idea of using the cord clips for pencils! I have been struggling with what to do, since I have only taught (community supply heaven) kindergarten prior to this year. Heading to shop RIGHT. NOW.

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    1. Thanks Erin!! I actually put the cord clips on the back on the chairs this year. I hope that it is works even better!! Hope it works for you!! XO

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  6. Hi there! I do flexible seating in my first grade classroom! At the beginning of the year, they have an assigned seat. I introduce a seating option each week. We spend time talking about what each seat looks and sounds like when being used. During this time, students are free to try them out if they choose. At first, they all wanted to try the seats but learned quickly what works for them and what doesn't. The word "successful" is used daily by my firsties. After all were introduced, we went 100% flexible. This was right after fall break. I sent home a brochure to parents and they went over a contract for their child to sign. This made it seem very official and important.

    Some of my students do prefer a regular chair/table option, so I left a large number of those. Every other seating option had an official spot. I do this to teach that when we choose our seats, we want to choose places that we can see and participate in the learning going on.

    When my students come in, they choose their work space. No assigned seating. This worked well for our class, but I did have to be very strict at first. If they mistreat a seat or are being unsuccessful because of their behaviors, they have to move to a regular desk and chair of my choice.

    My students are free to change their seat during transitional moments of the day. We spent time talking about transition times, so that cut down on learning time being interrupted. I chose to let them switch during the day because I noticed that the ones who may need a flexible seating option in the morning to focus, prefer a chair option in the afternoon and vice versa. It's wonderful to see their little minds start to regulate and be aware of their own learning needs.


    My only question from colleagues is: Will flexible seating in my classroom make the transition to a traditional classroom more difficult? Because of this question, I have wondered if I should transition them back to traditional seating in the last few weeks of school. What are your thoughts?

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    1. Hi Sarah!

      Thank you SO much for your response. I found myself nodding my head throughout all of it. It sounds like you have set up your flexible seating beautifully. How lucky are your kids?!

      I have a few thoughts about transitioning back to traditional seating. I do think talking about how a classroom looks with traditional seating would be an interesting and important discussion for your class at the end. They have no doubt seen it and experienced it before. I do not think you necessarily need to practice it with them though.

      Kids anticipate change with a new school year. When they walk into their new classroom it will be an automatic to listen to the teacher for direction. Some students may want to go to their own spot, others may transition with no problem. I think you should keep your room working the way that works best for you. They will be just fine in the coming years.

      Or, you can help spread the word on the benefits of flexible seating with hopes that colleagues listen?

      Good luck!!
      Sarah

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