Flexible Seating in the Music Classroom {Part One}

04 September, 2016

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.

Flexible Seating in the Music Room: Great thoughts about why to use flexible seating in your classroom, and which seats to buy!

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!

Crate seats
Crate seats: Includes video tutorial on how to make! Blog post also includes info about other flexible seating options!

I made these crate seats using this tutorial:
I have six of them in my room. The awesome part about these seats is the opportunity to also use them for storage! The table in the picture is from IKEA.

Wobble seats
Flexible Seating in the Music Room: Great thoughts about why to use flexible seating in your classroom, and which seats to buy!

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 bands
The 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 balls
Flexible Seating in the Music Room: Great thoughts about why to use flexible seating in your classroom, and which seats to buy!
The green balls you see in the picture above are called stability balls or balance 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 seats
One 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.

Locker mats

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.

Flexible Seating in the Music Room: Great thoughts about why to use flexible seating in your classroom, and which seats to buy!

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.

Have you used flexible seating in your music classroom, or your grade-level classroom? Feel free to comment below!


  1. This is such a well thought out and useful article! I'm going to pass this along to some of my music teacher friends and reg. ed ones too. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  2. I've been seeing A LOT about flexible seating lately, so I'm curious to see how it works out in your classroom!

  3. As an aspiring music teacher, I quite like this idea. And there may be a reason you left this detail out, but I would love to know how much this entire set up cost, and for how many students are you prepared to accommodate? Just for future reference, should this ever come up in my career.

  4. Hi there! I'm a K-6 music teacher trying out flexible seating this year, too. I look forward to following along with your journey! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I love this idea as a future music educator and as an older sister. My younger siblings always had issues staying seated in the same position for long periods of time which can also take away from their ability to focus.

  6. I want to be inclusive for students who are not comfortable with regular chairs, however, I am curious how you address posture for proper singing. I travel from room to room and when students are invited to the carpet for other subjects, they are often allowed to lye on their bellies or backs. When I express expectations for proper posture for singing I get the pat response "but I'm allowed flexible seating" "but I'm tired, I just want to listen" etc.
    How do we offer flexible seating but still instill within students there is still an expectation to have a respectful posture when instruction is taking place?

    1. Hi Nancy!
      My response is that when we are doing something other than singing or playing--like centers, working on a worksheet, etc., they are allowed to sit however they feel comfortable (as long as it is safe.) But when we are singing, they have to sit with a tall back for good posture and breath support. Would a child who is learning how to play basketball be allowed to just lie there on their back because it's what's comfortable? Nope!
      Good luck!

  7. When (what kinds of activities) do you use flexible seating? All the time? Some of these options aren't good for singing posture and that's what's been holding me back. DO you use these during independent work, whole group work, or both?

    1. Hi there! I don't use them all the time...only when we are doing centers, students are working in small groups, or they are filling out worksheets.
      I agree about singing posture, which is why they typically aren't sitting in them while singing. I do have a couple kids who sometimes get to sit in the chairs the whole music class because they were star students in the previous class, but most of the kids are not singing while sitting in them.
      Hope this helps! :)


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