This year, I have been experimenting with alternative seating in the classroom. I still have all of my traditional desks and seating options for whole group instruction, however I have purchased several different types of seats for the students to use during station work or independent work. A lot of the blog posts and articles about alternative seating in classrooms deal with primary age students, so today I want to share our alternative seating options for my upper elementary/middle school students.
This post contains affiliate links if you wish to purchase the reclining chairs mentioned in this post.
Alternative Seating in the Classroom: Expectations
Before we even began using the alternative seating, I went over a few expectations for using them correctly. I stuck to just 3 expectations in the beginning so they would be easy to remember and enforce. I always number my expectations or rules because I find it helpful for some students to refer to the rule or expectation they are breaking by number. For example: If a student is not working at seat, I can call their name and say “Remember #1” and point to the chart as needed. This makes it very quick to remind the students and also really helps for students who are embarrassed easily or have a habit of being defiant or disrespectful when reprimanded.
Here are are very simple 3 expectations that we started with. I have added this expectation since taking this picture: “Mrs. Williams is the only one who is able to move someone from a seat.” We had some issues with students trying to make other students move so they could have a preferred seat. This expectation and reminder quickly stopped that.
Alternative Seating in the Classroom: Options
I collected a lot of my seating options from local stores in my area and a few from Amazon. I also bought multiples of the more affordable chairs so even if we didn’t have as much variety, the students still had several options. At the time of writing this post, I have enough alternative seating for 15 students and then a large, comfortable rug that many of the students prefer to lounge on while they work. Many of my students also often still prefer traditional seating options as well.
The next part of my post will highlight some of the seating options I have used and my thoughts on them.
The above blue chairs are some of my students’ favorites, and they hold up very nicely. The back of the chair reclines so the student can get even more comfortable depending on how they prefer to sit. They are fairly pricey at $36 a piece, but I am hopeful they will last several years with no problems. I purchased two blue chairs and two black chairs to go with my color scheme. They are also available in lime, orange, and red. Click here to see these chairs on Amazon.
Also in the above picture are two ottomans that I purchased from my local Big Lots. I was able to snag these on sale for $20 for each ottoman. I love these because they can hold two of my students easily and they double as extra storage.
I also picked up these black stools at Big Lots for around $8 each. They were cheaper options and are not the most comfortable choice. However, my students love these because they make them feel more like adults. They especially love these for partner work using clipboards.
And finally, we come to the most sought-after chairs in the classroom: our bean bag chair and a bungee chair. These are the most expensive options for seating but by far the most popular. I purchased the large bean bag chair from Walmart while it was on sale for $20. I am not a fan of the bean bag chair because it doesn’t hold up as well with continued use in the classroom. The beans need to be refilled about every 2-3 months, which I don’t think is necessarily bad but I prefer low-maintenance chairs.
The bungee chair I purchased from Amazon for around $50 so it was definitely the most expensive chair and the reason I only have one of them. The bungee chair is probably the students’ favorite chair of all the options. I am hoping I can find some cheaper options in local stores but have not had any luck yet. These chairs also come in different colors: brown, green, gray, purple, and red. Click here to see these chairs on Amazon.
Not Pictured: I also picked up some super affordable camping chairs from my local sporting goods store for $6-$8. They come in a variety of colors, and I was easily able to match my color scheme. I have these chairs placed directly under my marker board area so they take up less space. These are also a favorite of my students.
I hope to add a few more alternative seating options but that is what we have for now (in addition to our carpet area where the students may work as well). I am always looking for new ideas and would love to hear about any alternative seating you have used and loved. Let me know in the comments!