Alternative or Flexible Seating

 Confession.  My teacher crush* is Greg Smedley from 
 I love him from afar, of course, but I follow him on Facebook, read his blog, and once saw him speak in person at ITeachK.  He is amazing, and funny, and SO entertaining.  He also seems to be the type of guy who would be a blast to hang out with on a Friday night, and then go shopping at the dollar tree with on Saturday.  I hope to be half the teacher and presenter that he is someday.  :)

One of the things Greg has talks about a lot is how he uses flexible seating in his classroom.  He doesn't have tables! I read his posts...and found it interesting (yeah but...what about snack?  or testing?  or fighting over spots?). Regardless, Mr. Smedley put the idea there, and it's been in the back of my mind ever since.

This year, I decided to start out the school year out with a few "alternative" spots in my room.  I've added a few more as the year continued, and also started adding more "alternative lighting" and background music during certain work times.  It's SO exciting and I have been AMAZED at the difference it makes in my classroom.

Here's a few things I've been doing!

I added a set of 5 lap desks.  The lap desks work REALLY well for cutting projects.

I sent out an email to my district, and got 3 rocking chairs donated.  Great for reading or working with a clipboard

A class set of clipboards has been a must!

I found 4 of these kindermats on sale.  These might be my favorite option!  Lots of kids seem to work REALLY well and concentrate longer when they are laying on a mat with a clipboard.

I pulled one of my shelves out away from the wall.  It is just the right height for my kindergartners to stand and work.  This is THE most popular spot to work or eat snack in my classroom!  Easy addition to my alternative seating menu.

This picture shows two great choices.  My boyfriend made me a slide off cover for my Lego table.  I added some floor cushions and it became a perfect spot for kids to work.  My writing center also has cube chairs.  Perfect workspace for kids who need a space that kind of "hugs" them in.  

I have 2 of these tables.  (I'm not as brave as Greg and haven't removed all my tables!).  These are amazing for kids who need help organizing their work.  It gives them a spot of their own to work, but also makes an amazing space for collaborative work.

This is a little hard to see, but for large group activities, my kids sit on my rainbow rug.  At the back of the rainbow rug are six cube ottoman's.  They seem to help the kids who need that more defined space.

 I also have 4 of these wiggle seats.   The kids can choose them and use them on the carpet, or at a chair somewhere in the classroom.  I hope to get some more, they are awesome!

This is my reading/math small group table (and the closest thing I have to a desk).  The ball chairs have been wonderful!  They had a tendency to wander a bit, and that drove me a tiny bit crazy, so I bought pool noodles (yes, rainbow colors to match), cut them to size, used colored duct tape to connect them and made a "ring" for them each to sit in.

So...all those questions I had at the beginning:
Snack:  I have enough spots in my room at tables or at the "stand up spots" for all of my kids to eat snack.  the mats or other floor options aren't a choice during snack...mostly because I thought there would be a lot of spilled milk.

Testing:  If I am doing whole group testing, they can choose whatever spot works best for them, as long as they are spread out.  Hasn't been an issue.

Fighting over popular spots:  I usually pull "fair sticks", and tell the kids to choose a spot.  It's a "first come first serve" thing at that point.  I do a lot of teaching and reminding about what it looks like, feels like, and sounds like if you've chosen the best work spot.  It really hasn't been too much of an issue.

Noise:  This is the quietest group I've EVER had during work time.  Giving them choices (and knowing if they don't use their choice wisely then I get to make the choice for them) has been the best decision EVER.  

I can't wait to add more choices!  I'm thinking about some scoop chairs, bouncy bands (to put on table legs), and some taller wobble stools for tables.

I've also been trying some things with lighting in my room.  We often work with only half of the overhead lights  and our "magic lights" on.  Our "magic lights" are white rope lights strung around the edge of my room.  We turn them on and off with this amazing magic wand.  It was my favorite purchase this year!

I took a quick video of how our magic lights work.  It's Spring empty classroom, and a Lifetime Movie playing on my computer. :)

Kindergarten Funny of the Week:I have kids from other classes come to my room during intervention time. We were sitting at this table doing some math problems...Munchkin Girl: Why do you have these balls to sit on instead of chairs?Me: Well, sometimes bouncing a little while they are working helps kids think.Munchkin Girl: (Pause) Wow! It works. I keep thinking about a sandwich!.
*I stole the term "teacher crush" from my amazing team mate Nicole....who confessed to me her own teacher crush is Marsha from A Differentiated Kindergarten .  :)

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