If you are tired of watching your students wiggling and squirming in their traditional desks, then it might be time for you to hop onto the Flexible Seating train.
Flexible seating have a lot of benefits, and when it is implemented well, the biggest benefit you will see is your students actually concentrating and focusing on their assignments. These flexible seating options allow your students to position themselves in a way that minimizes distractions, catering to both high-energy students who need to move and those who prefer a quiet, still environment. Read more on What Is Flexible Seating here.
However, the reality is that some of these flexible seating options can be a bit steep for the budget-conscious educator. The good news? Achieving cheap flexible seating is absolutely possible! Flexible seating on a budget, here we come!
Also, check out 7 Strategies to Flexible Seating on a Budget.
In this post, we’ll explore 11 cheap flexible seating options – a perfect way to provide flexible seating on a budget, many of which I’ve successfully implemented in my own classroom.
***Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you purchase through the link from my blog. Thank you for your support!
11 Cheap Flexible Seating Options
- This is such an UNDERRATED classroom essential! With a clipboard, a student can sit, stand, lay down on the floor, and still get work done. They’re cheap, durable, and allow students to work comfortably from anywhere in the classroom or outside the classroom, from a beanbag chair to outside on the playground. It gives students the freedom to move and change their working environment while staying organized. Clipboards are also a great tool for group work, as they allow students to jot down their ideas and contributions.
- How Many Do You Need? A Class Set. It’s always beneficial to have enough clipboards for every student. This way, they can grab one and work from anywhere in the classroom—whether it’s on the carpet, a beanbag chair, or even outside.
- Classroom Zone: Anywhere! Inside and outside the classroom. Just place them in an accessible location where students can easily grab one when needed.
#2: Camping Chairs
- Camping chairs are affordable, easy to move around, and comfy. They’re great for reading corners, group activities, or even as a special seat for the “student of the week.” You can often find these at a steal during end-of-summer sales!
- How Many Do You Need? 2-3 Camping Chairs.
- Classroom Zone: Reading Nooks, Group Activity Areas
#3: Floor Cushions
- Floor cushions offer a soft, comfortable option for students who prefer to work on the floor. They’re perfect for reading areas, circle time, or group work. They’re affordable and come in many shapes, sizes, and colors to brighten up your classroom. Depending on your grade level, you can also just get throw pillows instead of floor cushions, and they will work the same!
- How Many Do You Need? 10 Floor Cushions or Pillows.
- Classroom Zone: Reading Nooks, Group Activity Areas
#4: Lap Desks
- A lap desk provides a solid work surface for students choosing to sit on the floor, a bean bag, or a comfy cushion. They’re relatively cheap, and their portability promotes flexibility and movement. They can be easily stacked and stored when not in use and are great for students who prefer to sit on the floor or a cushion during independent work time. There are two different types, the one that can function as a table as well if you are teaching younger students and the true lap desk. These are often sold at Michaels, Walmart, and Target with a special sale during the back-to-school season.
- How Many Do You Need? 5-10 Lap Desks.
- Classroom Zone: Anywhere!
#5: Floor Mats
- Affordable, easy to clean, and portable – floor mats can turn any area of your classroom into a carpet area without the price of a carpet. They’re great for group work, independent reading, or even naptime for younger students. Did I mention that they are super easy to clean?
- How Many Do You Need? Depends on the size of your space
- Classroom Zone: Classroom Corner, Quiet Areas
#6: Inflatable Chairs and Couches
- A fun and cozy seating option that students will love. When deflated, they take up minimal space, making them a great choice for classrooms that need to save on space. Most are surprisingly durable and can be found for reasonable prices. Although, you should make sure not to place them around any sharp objects before using them to prevent punctures!
- How Many Do You Need? 1 Couch, 1-2 Chairs
- Classroom Zone: Reading Nooks, Quiet Areas
#7: Seating Storage Cubes
- Storage Cubes are a two-for-one deal! Students have a place to sit, and you have extra storage. They can be used for individual work, or you can group them together for collaborative work. Plus, they’re usually quite affordable. Since they double as storage— they are perfect for classroom organization!
- How Many Do You Need? 2-4 Seating Cubes
- Classroom Zone: Spread around the classroom or in small clusters (group work area)
#8: Stackable Stools
- Stackable stools are compact, lightweight, and can be stored easily when not in use. They’re also a great way to add color to your classroom. You can often find these at discount stores such as Big Lots or even Ikea has them at a very low price.
- How Many Do You Need? 5-6 Stools
- Classroom Zone: Anywhere, they can replace the traditional chair or use it with other types of tables in the classroom.
#9: Wobbly Cushions
- Also known as balance discs, these add an element of fun and movement to a regular chair. They help students who may need to wiggle while they work and can be a great, low-cost addition to your traditional seating.
- How Many Do You Need? 4-6 Wobbly Cushions
- Classroom Zone: Anywhere can be added to the normal chair.
#10: Bouncy Balls (Stability Balls)
- Bouncy ball are excellent choices for students who focus better when they’re moving. They’re relatively inexpensive, but remember to choose the right size for your student’s age and height.
- How Many Do You Need? 4-6 Bouncy Balls
- Classroom Zone: Anywhere can replace the traditional chairs.
#11: Floor Lounger
- Floor Lounger are perfect for a reading nook or a relaxation corner, floor loungers provide a comfortable space for students. They’re a bit pricier than some other options, but still very reasonable considering their benefits. Just make sure there’s enough room for it without obstructing pathways.
- How Many Do You Need? 1 Floor Lounger
- Classroom Zone: Classroom Corner, Quiet Areas
Managing Your New Flexible Seating Items
Remember that you DO NOT need a class set for all of your flexible seating options!
If you don’t have many options, you can strategically implement flexible seating through
- Use as a Reward: Certain seating options can be used as rewards for good behavior or excellent work. For instance, the ‘student of the week’ could have the privilege of using a camping chair.
- Rotation System: Depending on the number of options and the size of your class, consider a rotation system. This system allows all students to experience the various seating options over a certain period.
- Create Zones: Designate different areas of the classroom for different activities. For instance, a quiet zone with floor loungers for reading, an active zone with bouncy balls for energetic tasks, and a group zone with seating cubes for collaborative work.
Also, involve your students in setting up and managing the seating arrangements. When students feel ownership, they’re more likely to respect the shared spaces and furniture. Be open to adapting and adjusting the layout and seating options based on what works and what doesn’t. This also shows students that flexibility and adaptability are valuable skills in life.
Additionally, educate students on how to take care of the seating options—cleaning up after use, avoiding rough handling, and storing them properly. This not only extends the life of your seating options but also instills a sense of responsibility in your students. A little TLC goes a long way in extending the life of your items.
My Top 3 Picks and How I Implement Them
If you just want to try out flexible seating, then I can tell you what three items have always worked for me. No matter which classroom or grade level I am in, these are not only essentials but also very affordable flexible seating options. Again, every classroom is different, especially due to how the teacher chooses to implement the options.
But these are my top 3 Must-Haves:
How I implement them:
I have the bouncy balls in rotation by table group. Students do not need to use them if they don’t want to, and they can give their bouncy balls privilege to someone else. During independent work, my students are allowed to sit or be anywhere in the classroom as long as they are following the expectations. That means the clipboards and floor cushions are always available for those that want to sit on the floor in different areas of the classroom. The floor cushions are first come, first served. I also allow students to bring their own floor cushions from home.
Flexible seating is a fantastic way to create an environment that nurtures the diverse learning styles of your students, and it certainly doesn’t need to break the bank. These 11 affordable options are proof that you can create an engaging and dynamic learning space on a budget. Remember, it’s all about thinking creatively and strategically and not being afraid to try new things.
Ultimately, your goal is to create a space where your students feel comfortable, valued, and ready to learn. I hope that this guide helps you on your flexible seating journey and that you’re able to create a classroom environment that helps your students thrive.
Feel free to mix and match, add these seating options gradually, and watch your students enjoy their newfound freedom in their seating choices. What more about Flexible Seating? Check out 7 Strategies to Flexible Seating on a Budget.
Bye for now,
Prima from LittleYellowStar
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