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Flexible Seating Task 3: Putting it All Together

Once I made the decision to move to more flexible seating choices in my room, I knew I was going to have to make a decision on how many desks to lose.  My room is just too small to have a full class set of desks and then a good variety of other options.  I started with this sketch:

I knew I needed to have enough table top spaces in my classroom for all of my students to eat lunch, for science labs, for art.... some activities require table tops, and I didn't want to lose that.  Things have changed since that original sketch, but not a whole lot.

Ryan came in and lowered eight desks for me.   Four of them went as low as possible for kneeling, and 4 went to the first set of holes for the crate seats.  The kids have requested that those go up one hole as they say their knees hit, so back to school, he will go to raise those ones.  

As I made the change just after Spring Break, this was the "before" shot.  The floors had been waxed, and everything was pushed to one side.  You can see the adjusted desk height in this photo.  

I only have one Wobble Stool and one exercise ball currently.  I will be requesting more on the PAC wishlist next year for sure.  I purchased this exercise ball used for $2.  It's an ideal size for my taller students, but my shorter ones struggle with it.  I'd like to get a bit of size variety.

I've also got 3 wiggle seats in my room - the one pictured here and then two of the wedge style.  Kids love to sit on these on chairs or on the floor.

A view of my carpet area, and then the kneeling and crate seats in the background.

Here's a super quick scan of my room now.  You can see that I adjusted from the plan by adding a second set of trapezoid tables.  It gives my classroom way more space, yet the students say they prefer it because it feels like they have more table top space!  I have way more seating options than every before and my room feels so spacious!

Read my other flexible seating posts!
Crate Seat Tutorial
Bath Mats as a Kneeling Option

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Flexible Seating Task 2: Bath Mats

I'm making the change to fully flexible seating in my classroom!  I have decided to include some bath mats, exercise balls and crate seats in my flexible seating plan.

I picked up two of these bath mats from Walmart.  They aren't quite as long as I'd like, as they go **almost** the length of two desks.  But, in a small town, beggars can't be choosers!

I've got the most beautiful carpet in my classroom, but it's pretty tricky to match to.  I think I did alright with these mats.

 Right now, I've got a group of 4 desks which I've lowered as low as possible.  There is a mat on either side, one per two desks.  I wish the desks could get a little bit lower so they could sit criss-crossed.  They are a bit more of a kneeling height.

Read my other posts about flexible seating!
Crate Seats Tutorial
Putting It All Together

Flexible Seating Task 1: Crate Seats

After a lot of research I've decided to make the change to flexible seating in my classroom!  My classroom is already relatively flexible in that students can work around the room with clipboards on the carpet, in the bowl chair, with a cushion... They can also stand along the back counter during instructions if they prefer.  As long as it is safe, I let them sit in their seat any way they choose.  We've got wiggle cushions, foot fidgets and a wobble stool already.  But, the desks are all essentially the same height and at the end of the day... they've all got their name on a desk and that's their spot chosen by me.

I recently attended a meeting, which was all about the plans for a new school in town. It is very "21st century" and the seating will be all flexible. I asked my kids about their thoughts on the topic.... do you need your own desk with a name on it? Is there comfort in that? Approx. 6 said yes... the rest were like "Get these things out of here!" They were so jazzed up about the possibility of adjusting the height, not sitting in those awful plastic chairs.... One student was willing to get to work with a screwdriver at that very moment. I can't stop thinking about the conversation. That was on the last day before Spring Break, so I'm going to have it all ready to go when we return. I have at least 3 kids who will have a spot with their name on it, and anyone else who requests can have that too.

I have decided to include some bath mats, exercise balls and crate seats in my flexible seating plan.  A friend's husband scored me some milk crates from his work, and I've been hoarding them for a while.  I'm happy to finally have the push to want to create the seats (and so is Ryan, so they can get out of his way in the shop!)  I'm making 6 seats.

I've decided to go with outdoor fabric for the seats.  I'm hoping it will be more durable and easier to keep clean.  My fabric search happened in Fabricland.  So many pretty choices!


I really liked this letter print, and the colours would be great for my room decor, but I was afraid of all the white.  I ended up going with the bright yellow dots shown above.  They are cheery - still light, but safer than white.

Ryan sprayed the crates with Krylon for Plastic in Navy Blue.  All of the angles made them tricky to paint and they required A LOT of paint!  Four and a bit cans to do the 6 crates.

The trouble with using milk crates, and not the file folders people are using from office supply stores, is that they don't have the ledge inside to prop the wood up on.  I whined and batted my eyelashes and Ryan devised a way to make it work.  He cut 3/8" plywood he had laying around to match the size of the crate and then made some pieces to go inside as a brace so that it wouldn't slide around.

I wanted to buy high density foam, but it was $28 a meter, and I needed 3 meters.  Not going to happen!  I ended up purchasing a queen size foam mattress pad at Walmart for $31.  I cut two pieces per seat and stacked them.  There's enough left over for 4 more seats and I'll be passing this on to a friend.  I just used a highlighter and traced the wood and cut them out.

Stapling was a bit tricky because of the braces underneath.  I folded the corners just like wrapping a present.  They aren't perfect, but they are pretty good for never having upholstering anything before.  There's no major wrinkles or anything.  Here's 4 of them complete:

Materials needed:
- 6 milk crates (free)
- Spray Paint - Krylon for Plastic in Navy Blue ($6 each x 5 cans)
- Outdoor fabric ($40)
- Foam ($31, but I used just over half of it)
- 3/8" Plywood and lumber (free as they were all leftover scraps)
- Scissors, ruler, marker, saw, nails, staples and staple gun (all free because they were around the house)

I ended up spending approx $15 per seat.  It's a bit more than I would have liked to spend, but they are certainly more comfortable than the hard plastic seats in my room and will be well used, I'm sure!

Read my other flexible seating posts here:
Bathmats as a Kneeling Option
Putting it All Together

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