Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Let's Get Moving...All About Flexible Seating

Hi all! It's been a long time since my last blog post! Where does the time go? I had a wonderful year in kindergarten but neglected my blog. Starting this summer I am getting back on track... thanks to an awesome blogging binder I purchased from the amazing Ashley Schroeder
I thought a great way to jump back in would be to blog about something that is very near and dear to my teacher heart! It also happens to be a very popular subject with teachers these days... 
 I started flexible seating a year and a half ago. After lots of research and blog stalking I decided to take the plunge and let me say it was the BEST decision I could have made for my kiddos! I started flexible seating after spring break the first year but this school year I began right from the start. If you are wanting to try it go for it you will not regret it! Your kids will love it and so will you.
Let's take a look at flexible seating in my classroom and then I will do my best to answer some frequently asked questions about flexible seating. 
I kept my tables and added seating options for them. There are also seating options around the room such as pillows, folding chairs, scoop rockers, a mini trampoline and smaller chairs where my kiddos can choose to work. I did get rid of one of my tables at the end of this year so I will only have 4 instead of 5.
Stability balls were definitely a hit with my kinders. I got all my stability balls at Five Below! This year I had 2 tables of balls. Next year I will only have 1 table with them. I am hoping to add a few new seating options this summer! 

I found these garden stools at Home Depot. I bought them as an alternative to the Hokki stool. They were $24.99 and a much better deal for me ha! My kids enjoy them. Since I have tile floors they have to use a carpet square to keep them from slipping out from underneath them. As you can see in the pictures my kids can choose to move the seats around the room. I did have one friend this year that liked to work in a traditional chair so I had a few available for him and anyone else that wanted one. I love how Ruby turned her stool over. When I asked her why she did that her response was "it was rocking to much!' haha! 

For our computer centers I have different stools for them to sit on. I found the blue step stools at Five Below. The pink stools I ordered from Ebay. They are called ergoergo stools. They were definitely the most expensive thing I purchased for my room. 

I lowered a table and added pillows. This is a class favorite as well! Some kiddos preferred to sit or lay on top of the table and that was fine with me too. Who could resist that cute face anyway?!?

 I have several pillows and other chairs around the room as well. 
I found these pillows at TJ Maxx on clearance!
Lap desks from Hobby Lobby.

I got the scoop rockers from Walmart.
My kiddos love our light box! I found the pillows at Walmart. 
I found these folding chairs at Five Below...are you sensing a pattern here? I love Five Below!

This year I added a standing table. I wasn't sure how it would go over but they really loved it. (Yes some of my kids sat on this table too:) 
I also added a mini trampoline. At first I used it only as an incentive. The kids would earn jumps throughout the day for different things. During writing workshop one day one of my kiddos asked if they could sit on the trampoline and write. So I thought why not? It quickly became a spot the kids liked to use as a center too. 

So this is what flexible seating looks like in my room.  I would love to add a small couch to my room this summer!

Now I will try to answer some frequently asked questions about flexible seating.

First let me say that you need to do what makes you comfortable as well as your kids. If you don't want them to sit on the tables them make sure that is an expectation that they understand. You can start with as much or as little flexible seating as you want. Model, model, model everything. Have clear expectations for each type of seating you offer in your room. Flexible seating is all about giving the power of choice to your kids. It allows them to move and wiggle while learning. There is a ton of research out there if you need it to convince/persuade administration. I am so thankful that my admin has been supportive of this transformation in my classroom. There are several other teachers at my school that have joined me and several more planning on starting it next school year!
  • How did you introduce flexible seating to your class? The first year I started flexible seating I introduced one type of seating at a time. I modeled, modeled and modeled some more. Once I felt like they had a handle on the expectations I added another type of seating. This year I started with all of it out from the beginning. I still modeled a lot but I almost feel like they picked it up quicker because that's just the way our classroom was. They didn't have to relearn expectations if that makes sense:) 
  • What do you do about those students who always want to sit with their buddy?  What about the students who sit by each other and play? I encourage my kiddos to sit where they are going to do their very best. I encourage them to choose the spot that will help them learn and stay focused.  I also  tell my kids that they have the right to sit anywhere they choose, however, as their teacher I have the right to move them to a different spot if they are not doing the best. I have only had to move 2 or 3 students.  My kiddos do not have assigned seats. I feel like that defeats the purpose of flexible seating. 
  • How do you make sure that each child gets a chance to sit at all the options?  When they come in the classroom in the morning we all gather on the carpet. We listen to announcements, make our lunch choices and spend a few minutes chit chatting with each other. We have a mini lesson for writing workshop and then they gather their materials and go find a spot. I have had very little problem with children fighting over spots. When the problem arises if they don't/can't solve the problem on their own I remind them there will be plenty of times for them to sit in that particular spot throughout the day. During centers my kids also get to choose the type of seating that will work best for them. If they want a stability ball or a stool they can move them from a different table.
  • Do you have a seat for every child in your classroom? Yes and then some! I have 4 tables, 1 standing, 1 lowered with pillows, 1 with stools and 1 with stability balls. I also have the trampoline, lots of pillows and other types of stools and chairs. 
  • What do you do with all their stuff? We do community supplies for the most part. 
 They keep their writing notebook and any other supply in their sterilite drawer. 
 They turn their center work into their mailbox as we call it. I found the rainbow drawers on sale at Micheals last summer. 
All of our center materials for the week are kept in these amazing shelves I bought at IKEA!

  • What do you do when you have a sub? I have a note that I leave for a sub explaining flexible seating and our classroom routines and expectations. Most of the time I get a note from them saying how much they love the seating options!!
  • What do the parents think? I explain flexible seating to my parents at our Kinder Camp. I also add a little blurb in my welcome packet. Parents love the options for their kids and love that their kids are engaged in learning. 
  • Did your school help with the cost of switching to flexible seating? No, they did provide my tables of course.  I bought all the flexible seating options in my classroom. I got most of them fairly cheap. Walmart, Target, and Five Below are all great places to look. Check your local thrift stores too. I also ordered several things from Ebay!! You can make this change without breaking the bank.  
  • What flexible seating options didn't work in your classroom? The only thing that I would suggest not spending money on is Bean bag chairs. I bought 2 Big Joe chairs and they didn't last long at all! They went flat quickly. The replacement beans were the same price as the chairs...totally not worth it! I do have a few teacher friends that have beans bags and they have held up well.

Thank you so much for stopping by to read about flexible seating in my classroom! I hope that if you are leaning towards starting this in your classroom that you will jump right on it! I promise you won't regret it! If you have any questions that I did not think of please feel free to ask them in the comments or send me an email! I am more than happy to answer them the best I can!

Thank you again for stopping by my blog :)