After reading many posts about flexible seating in the grade-level classroom, I decided to give it a try this year! This post is the first in a series of posts about flexible seating in my music classroom; today, I'll write about what flexible seating is, why I'm using it, and what I'm using.
What is flexible seating?
Flexible seating is the idea that students don't all have to sit in chairs, at desks, or in the case of my classroom, on the floor. There are options for them to sit in a variety of seats, and for them to choose a seat that works best for them and their learning style. When I first read about it, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around what this would mean for my classroom. I still like to have students sitting on the floor for a lot of music class, because then it's easy for us to stand and play games! I decided to use the seating in centers, small group work, and for paper/ pencil work, which I'll write more about in another blog post!
Why use flexible seating?
For the past two years, I've had a really comfortable saucer chair in my room that is one of my "Star Student" rewards, and the kids LOVE it. I liked the idea of having more choices from which students can choose.
Another reason is my experience with my own daughter Macy, who just turned four years old. Macy is so joyful, fun, and silly! But she's had some difficulties with her development. At two, she had tubes put in her ears, because of the back-up of fluid, and the fluid caused her to be delayed in her speech, since she couldn't hear us very well. On top of that, I think she had genetic predisposition to be a late talker, as I didn't talk clearly until I was five, and speech delay can be genetic. She also has been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. She is a seeker, so she often spins, puts herself upside down, lays down, etc., to regulate herself so she can learn better. We have a few options for her at home to help her balance and spin, and it's helped her a lot!
After reading about flexible seating, and more closely observing my own students, I realized that there were several students in each class who would benefit from having options for seating, whether it be because of SPD, ADHD, or just a different learning style that makes sitting perfectly still on the floor difficult.
The best reason, though, in my mind, is that it honors students as learners. Having options in my classroom tells students that I realize that everyone learns differently, and that there is no right or wrong answer to how we learn best!
What I'm using
So now onto what I bought for my classroom!
I made these crate seats using this tutorial:
The wobble seats (also called Hokki stools) are the purple chairs above. I have one of these for my daughter and she loves it! The idea of these is that kids can sit on them and wobble to and fro as they sit. It helps those kids who need the sensory input to move as they learn. I bought the wobble seats for my classroom from Amazon. The purple seats in my room are being borrowed from a Kindergarten teacher who is not using them in her room this year. She suggested gluing shelf liner to the bottom so they don't slide around on the floor.
Bouncy bandsThe bands you see on the blue chairs above are called bouncy bands. The idea of these is that students can put their feet on the bands and bounce their feet. I am constantly shaking my leg when I sit still, so I think this is a good option for students like me! Just be careful when buying these from Amazon that you purchase the ones for chairs, not desks (as I made that mistake!) Also, the bands only work on small chairs, not on the standard size chairs I have in my room.
Stability ballsbalance balls. Students sit on top, and can bounce up and down as they sit. The kids LOVE these...but you have to lay the ground rules that they can't bounce so much that it's distracting for other students!
Disc seatsOne of my favorite purchases are the black disc seats you see in the picture above. One side is slightly bumpy, and the other side is bumpier. Students decide which side to sit on, and when they sit on them, it's a bit like the wobble seats, because they can move to and fro on them as they sit. They can be placed on the ground or on a chair.
I bought these at Five Below (read more about my finds in this blog post.) They are super soft, and students can sit on them or lay on them.
Memory foam bath mats
These mats are super soft, and meld to to the shape of your body as you sit or lay on them! I bought them from Amazon.
Also note that I had to purchase clipboards, since with many of these seats, students wouldn't be able to use the floor when writing. Here is a picture of my student center, where I keep my clipboards. I found a great deal on Amazon!
Here is a picture of the corner of my room where I keep a lot of the seats. I bought the flexible seating posters here.
I considered putting in an application for Donors Choose to buy all of these seats, but many of the projects on there were for schools in need, and my school is not. I decided to go ahead and purchase these myself, knowing I'd have them for the rest of my career!
There are options, though, for asking for funding. Donors Choose is probably the most popular option for asking for funding for your classroom. Check out these flexible seating projects on Donors Choose for ideas on how to word your project.
In the next few weeks, I'll be blogging about how I'm introducing the flexible seating in my classroom, and later in the year, I'll blog about how I have students let me know which seat they like best.
Have you used flexible seating in your music classroom, or your grade-level classroom? Feel free to comment below!