This year, I set myself the challenge of increasing seating options in my classroom. I've always been interested in classroom design, and I notice how my students respond positively to thoughtfully planned learning spaces.
With that being said, here's what I did, and how it worked out.
This summer, I scouted out some furniture to bring in class. I shopped on kijiji, and garage sales, and accepted donations. I found a beautiful second-hand IKEA sofa, and bought a new cover for it, since white + 6 year olds = disaster.
First, the sofa...
Then, the wiggly elements...
Why fight the wiggle? Some kids spend the whole day tipping their chairs onto their back legs, jiggling their legs up and down, spreading out during circle time...why would I want to spend my whole day trying to "correct" that behaviour if no one is getting hurt, and I have better things to do?
Once again, IKEA to the rescue with these pretty ladies.
Then comes...more sofas...
Yes, I like sofas. There, I said it! We spend so much time in school, and sometimes, the kids spend even more time there than we do, there's no reason why it shouldn't feel like our second home!
People tell me ALL THE TIME that my class looks like a living room, or a little home, and I'm happy to hear it. I want my students to feel comfortable, and welcomed. More than that, I want it to mimic some environments they encounter in real life- I never sit a desk to read a good book, do you? In reality, I read on my sofa, or in a pile of pillows on my bed. I read where I feel comfortable, and there's nothing wrong with that. I want my kids to enjoy their reading, and that's one of the most important things we focus on in grade 1 and 2,
So yes, more sofas. The pink armchair cost me only $40 from a woman on Kijiji. As for the moon chairs...I don't usually buy anything new for my class (because, what's the point), but our school has a WONDERFUL Home & School association, and they gave each teacher a bit of extra funding for classroom purchases (thank you!)- so I splurged and got the two black moon chairs from Wal-Mart. Comfy for kids, AND comfy for teacher when the kids are at recess.
Suzanne, you have so many sofas! How do they work when they are so cozy? I'm sure is what you're thinking. To answer your question, one word: clipboards. It's works just fine you guys, I promise. I just don't let them eat snack on the sofas, that's all!
and don't forget the tables! Duh!
No, I don't solely have couches for seating (yet...). I have 4 round tables at different heights, one rectangular table facing a window where a pair of kids can work, and a table I usually sit at for station rotations.
How it all worked out...
As with most things in grade 1, this took some explanation before I let them roam free.
Throughout this past week, I've been introducing new elements into our classroom, which meant a lot more seating possibilities. I told them I was going to let them work wherever they wanted, as long as they were working. Cue a great discussion about choosing a smart spot to work (examples: not beside your best friend if you need to focus, not squished with 5 other people, not doing anything dangerous).
Overall, I would call this move a great success. Since the kids were finally using every square inch of the room, some working on the floor in our gathering spot, some on sofas, others at tables, I felt like I had a lot more room. This also meant the class was quieter than usual- if your friend is miles away from you, the temptation to start joking with them goes down. Not to mention the fact that they didn't want to lose the privilege of freedom and choice.
Now go have fun sofa-shopping!
My name is