Alternative Classroom Seating - Part 2

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Welcome! Or Welcome Back! Thanks for checking out Part 2 of my two part series on Alternative Classroom Seating.

UPDATE: This post has received so much amazing feedback so I've reached out to Dawn & Carla to answer some of your questions. Please note, the pictures below are from Dawn & Carla's classrooms, these are not pictures from my classroom.

Alternative Classroom Seating is something that's been bouncing around the internet for some time now and I found that I was really interested in trying it out in my classroom. Before I dove in I decided to talk to teachers who actually use it in their classroom. AND THEN, I thought, "Wouldn't this make a cool blog post?!" So here we are. I'm writing and you're reading.

If you'd like to see the first five questions I asked, click here to read part one.

If you missed part one, let me introduce you to my new teacher BFFs - Dawn and Carla. They are both elementary teachers who found ways to switch up their seating options in their classrooms.

6. How do the parents respond to Alternative Seating? Do you do anything special to explain it to them?

Dawn: "Parents donated last spring. This year I talked about them at the open house and explained the need for exercise. And how it would be uncomfortable to sit in a hard chair all day. Parents love it! Kids love it."

Carla: "During the Meet and Greet I got to explain the seating options to parents. I also sent them my open house video prior to the start of the school year. 

Part of the video explained the seating options to them. I also tweeted some articles on the benefits of flexible seating. Overall I think parents have really embraced this concept. They love the idea of their kids taking ownership of their seating an being more comfortable during the day. I have even had a parent or two offer to donate money for more seating options should I decide to add them to my room!"

UPDATE: Carla says, "For the open house video I used an app on my iPad called Lapse It. Then I used an iPad mount to hold it still above my desk as I drew on the dry erase board. I did draw slowly and played with the settings to create small videos of each board. Then I merged the videos together and added music to create the final product! I had so much positive feedback, but I won't lie, this took a good 5-6 hours to finally figure it out and get it right"

7. Where do the students keep all of their...stuff?!

Dawn: "They each currently have their desk as a homebase. Minimal things are inside. The desk fairy visits regularly to give notes. I was hoping to only have half regular desks... But I have been working on classroom manage to with some of the kids... Also we have 1:2 Chromebooks. So right now they are choosing a spot when it is Chromebook time or reading quietly. It helps a lot with the kids that aren't on Chromebooks to stay focused."

Carla: "I am fortunate to have some nice cubbies in my room. Students keep their journals and binders in these and after I give directions for an activity I will call groups over to get their supplies. I also have several baskets around the room. Their word study folders are kept near the word work choices etc. I have supply tubs at each table. Students simply use the supplies that are at the table where they are sitting. We all share, no one has "special crayons" or scissors etc. Another teacher at my school has students use book bins as their "cubbies" to hold their supplies. The students simply take the bins with them to wherever they are sitting."

Update: Carla says, "The particular cubby unit that I have for storing student supplies was actually made by the husband of a teacher who worked at our school many years ago (she was lucky to have a handy hubby!!) Before I inherited the cubby I was using stacked milk crates zip tied together. They have some images on Pinterest similar to this. I have also seen square cubby units similar to this at Target and Walmart.

Update: This rug was purchased from RTR Kid Rugs. Carla says, "for those of you who might be buying your own rug (as I had previously done) I recommend getting a large from Home Depot or Lowes ~$80 and buying SitSpots to create spaces for individual students."

8. Do you still have a meeting place (carpet) for mini-lessons?

Dawn: "We meet at the two carpets in front of short throw projectors. Sometimes it is all 25 and sometimes it is a small group and sometimes half, depending on what I am teaching. I try to differentiate as much as possible. In addition one of my kids specials is taught in my room and the teacher prefers for everyone to have a homebase. Also, we split kids up for tier 2 reading and math interventions so I have two other groups of first graders that I teach."

Carla: "Yes, I do have a large carpet in the front of my room. This is a meeting place for mini-lessons and read alouds. I also have a smaller carpet in the back of my room/ library area."


9. What do other teachers in your building think of your set up?

Dawn: "The other first grade teachers have traditional seating. One of the second grade teachers received my extra balls and another would like some. Our title teacher wrote a grant for some awesome wiggle stools."

Carla: "The administration has been very supportive with this endeavor. Other teachers comment on how "fun" or "neat" the idea seems, however they fear it won't work for them. Several teachers in my building are trying flexible seating this year and we hope to recruit more!"

10. What is your best advice for teachers who want to try Alternative Seating?

Dawn: "Just try it and see what works for you. You can start small by lowering a table to floor height (free). Checkout Kayla Delzer and Kindergartensmorgesboard!!!"

Carla: "Go for it! I was so on the fence about starting flexible seating over the summer. I was thinking, "Can my kids handle it?" "Won't there be tons of fighting?" "All the students will just sit by their friends and talk...this isn't going to work" But then I realized that I always prefer to choose where I sit during meetings, or professional development. I hate walking in and being told where to work. I read some articles and just decided to go for it! I told myself that I could always go back to regular seating if it didn't work. I really love it and the kids love it too! I actually notice how they tend to group themselves. It has been a big it in my classroom!"

So...What do you think? I'm convinced! I'm going to slowly start working flexible seating into my classroom this year. If you're already doing it, let's hear what works for you! If you're thinking about starting, what will be your first step?


  1. Great blog series. I'm rolling it out after spring break. I can't wait to try it. Thanks for all of your suggestions.

    1. I am curious to know how the implementation was in your classroom???


  2. I will be teaching 3rd next year and would like to try it. One question I have is how will this work with end of grade testing? Do you know of anyone that has tried it in testing grades?

  3. was curious about state testing as well!

  4. I started changing my room over today to flexible seating since we only have a few days left I figured if use my current students as my guinea pigs. After I removed a table one of my students asked "how are we going to have our party tomorrow?" Now, don't get me wrong they LOVED the changes but I wasn't sure how we would do that either and hadn't thought about it at all. Most of our parties could be done as stations in different areas of the classroom, but I don't want them eating on the floor with all the guests we have. We get many parents and little brothers and sisters that come. So, how do you handle parties in your classroom?

    1. I am looking at purchasing a folding table. What did you come up with?

  5. We talked about flexible seating at the beginning of the week and I let my 4th grade students in on what I was thinking. We discussed the plus and delta of it all. Then on Thursday night I bit the bullet and went to Wal-Mart. Cost me about $110. I purchased 5 large balls ($15), 6 bathroom mats ($30), 6 chair cushions ($30), 6 20" pillow forms ($18), and fabric for pillows ($16). I had 6 crates, 1 ball chair, and 6 Ikea stools. On Friday, we rearranged the room. The custodian thought I was crazy (he helped lower the tables) but the principal was on board. We now have 6 crate seats at a low table, 6 oriental floor seats, 6 regular desks, 6 ball seats, 6 rugs, and 6 stools (36 places to work). The room feels so open and not near as crowed as it once did with 27 desks in the room. In fact, other teachers have come in to see what we were doing and all have commented on much bigger the rooms seems. Then, everyone chose a spot to work and we got back to business. They were wonderful. Can't wait to see how the last week of school goes next week.

    1. Did you take any pictures? I also teach 4th grade and I want to try this, this year. I have 27 students also so , I would love extra space in the classroom. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I have tried the flexible seating with three weeks left in the year. The kids love it and can't wait to be able to choose where to sit. I have had one argument over seating, which has resulted with both students not being able to sit there and it has never happened again. When there is a issue I hear them discussing the issue and coming up with solutions of who is going to sit there by things like a game of rock, paper,scissors. I told them that they could move if they found a spot and then decided it wasn't comfortable. This moving then creates a domino effect of moving and disrupts instruction.Do you have this problem, and if so how do you deal with it? I have the rule now,that they can move to the floor as the only option to a uncomfortable spot and they can change spots after any time when we leave the room and come back in. ( lunch, music, library, computer, etc) I was hoping for feedback on this decision if you would. The other problem is after they hang up their backpack, they get their agenda out and they are suppose to turn it in to me so I can check for any messages. This however creates the situation of their seat being open for someone to enter and then sit in their spot not realizing someone is sitting there. The kids are beginning to manage by just telling the other person that they were sitting there, but I'm wondering about the upcoming Kindergarten students who will be coming I and who don't have the same maturity level. How do ya'all handle this issue? Thanks so much!

  7. I absolutely love this idea! I have wanted to try it for some time now. I'm starting at a new school this year and would love to start right away. I have a few questions. :) Would it be easier to start slowly or have it ready at the beginning of the year? Where could I get stools from? I'll be teaching third grade, so how would this work with state testing?

  8. I love love love the video you made!! What an amazing way to introduce things before the kids and parents hit the door! What app/program did you use to create it?

  9. LOVE LOVE LOVE that video! We've moved to an open house format for our BTSN so this will be a great tool for us! What app or program did you use to create it?

  10. Totally off topic from flexible seating (love the blog though!) but where did you get the cubby unit from?! I'm looking into partial flexible seating this year and have been wanting a space for my kids to keep all their workbooks, journals, etc...Nothing I've found seems to fit everything without bending.

  11. I too am curious as to where you got the cubby unit from. I'm going to try flexible seating with my 3rd graders next year and was concerned about where they would keep their belongings. A cubby unit like the one you have would be perfect.


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