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5 Secrets to Success Using FLEXIBLE SEATING in Your Classroom


Flexible seating is the perfect way to create a more engaging and dynamic learning environment for your students! It promotes collaboration and independence and is overall just FUN. Check out 5 secrets to success using flexible seating to make this work in your classroom this year!

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My Flexible Seating Story

I remember the first time I ever saw a photo of a classroom with flexible seating. I just knew I had to teach in a space like that! I spent the entire summer getting ready to transform my classroom.


After lots of planning and shopping, it was finally time to set up my classroom… 


My WOBBLE chairs and Scoop Rockers were all unpacked. My Ball Chairs and Wobble Cushions were inflated and ready to go. I had a low table, a high table, and small tables. My room was set up beautifully and then I panicked




The night before my kiddos came, I was so nervous. I debated hiding all of my flexible seating options and just using traditional chairs to start the year. 

I haven’t been that nervous since my first year of teaching! It took all of my teacher courage to stick with it, but I am so glad I made the decision to be brave and launch flexible seating!


Here are the 5 Secrets to Success to Make Flexible Seating Work in Your Classroom

  1. Smart Spots
  2. Simple Seating
  3. Boxes, Bins, and Baskets
  4. Repair and Reuse
  5. Flexibility First

#1 Smart Spots

If you’ve been a teacher for more than 5 minutes, you know the importance of teaching and modeling everything…and repeating the process…and repeating it again! 

The same is absolutely true for flexible seating! Without modeling and practice, it can be chaotic and just too hard for everyone. So the question is, how do I teach flexible seating to my students?

You’ve likely already spent hours searching on Pinterest and found exactly what I found— lots of cute anchor charts and seating signs. What I never found was a book to introduce and actually TEACH students how to manage flexible seating, so I made one!

This flexible seating book about Smart Spots helps students truly understand what flexible seating is and your expectations for it! Smart Spots are places students can choose to go to do their best work.


The book includes rules and expectations for all the different kinds of flexible seating. 


For the first couple weeks of school, read your Smart Spots book EVERY day. Remember….repetition is KEY with little ones!

Meet on the rug for whole group lessons (like when you introduce this book to your students!), and then children can choose their own Smart Spots for independent or partner practice.

Keep this book at your literacy center, and let kids practice rereading it with pointers! 

If you ever notice a few kids are not choosing Smart Spots, get out the book and read it again with that student.

#2 Simple Seating

While on Pinterest, I also found lots of ideas for scheduling or rotating seating options. I am SO impressed by teachers who can remember who sat in a ball chair last Thursday and who had the pink rocker yesterday, but I simply can’t do it. 

For that reason, keep the seating really flexible and don’t have any rotation board or schedule!

Let your students pick Smart Spots all day. They can sit in several different spots throughout the day, and that’s perfectly okay. 


I was initially worried that they may race for certain seats, but that hasn’t really happened. It’s been interesting to see their individual preferences switch from ball chairs to low tables to rockers to baskets and back again. 


This way, everyone gets to try everything, and you don’t have to organize it! 

Try some of these flexible seating spots in your classroom and see where kiddos gravitate:


#3 Boxes, Bins, and Baskets

With flexible seating and kids working all over the room, it can feel challenging to keep everything organized. Boxes, bins, and baskets are a great solution to keeping supplies from being scattered across the floor all day!


Designate supplies as either “community supplies” or “individual supplies”. 

Pencil Boxes

Each child has their own pencil box. Their pencil boxes are filled with individual supplies like pencils, crayons, markers, and glue sticks. The outsides have these pencil box nametags on them. 


These nametags carry the spirit of nameplates on desks with traditional seating, but now students just carry them with them!



Everyone also has a bin to store other individual supplies. These storage drawers from Ikea were an investment, but they are definitely worth it! You will LOVE them! 


These drawers are extremely durable and easy to use. The kids each have a sliding bin to store their journals, pencil boxes, notebooks, folders, etc. 


Spread towers of drawers out around the room so it’s easier for students to get out supplies or clean up. Spreading them out helps keep crowds (and chaos) down!


Independent Reading Books

Keep bags of independent reading books in each kid’s sliding bin too! If you have extra bins, you can keep additional independent reading books in those instead. 

These clear bins are another great option for books! Keep them spread out on shelves all around the room for easy access!


Bin Organization

Keep bins organized and personalized at the same time by having simple number labels so they can be used year after year. Using numbers instead of names helps you keep things personal without having to recreate oodles of labels each year! 


To keep things easy for yourself, at the beginning of the year, put a piece of painter’s tape on each drawer and write the name of the kiddo who was assigned that number. 


When everyone knows their numbers, just peel off the tape!

Community Bins

There’s also a spot for community supplies with clear labels. These editable classroom labels are basically done for you to keep things easy and quick while you’re planning and organizing your classroom supplies!


When your community supply bins are labeled with both pictures and text, your kids can get out these supplies when needed and clean them up without help from you.



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#4 Repair and Reuse

There’s good news and bad news about flexible seating… 

Bad news— if you poke a ball chair with a pointy pencil it really will pop. It doesn’t pop like a balloon, but it quickly deflates so whoever is sitting there will slowly start sinking to the floor.


Good news— you CAN repair it using a Tear-Aid Vinyl Repair Kit. These heavy-duty patches are made to be waterproof and they work well for patching ball chairs.


A little more bad news— if you pick or peel the patch, the chair will deflate again. 


But more good news— you can order Ball Chair Replacement Balls so there’s always that option too!


In my opinion, the good FAR outweighs the bad when it comes to flexible seating in the classroom!

#5 Flexibility First

And finally, flexible seating does require….get ready for it…. FLEXIBILITY! 

Type A friends, don’t run away— you can do this! Give yourself permission to rearrange tables and move rugs throughout the year to fit what you need. Depending on works (or doesn’t!) this year, add or remove pieces for next year. It’s all a big, beautiful, flexible work in progress!


Even if your kids are always moving, one thing that won’t change— you can stick with flexible seating with these 5 secrets to success!

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Emily Yerty

Emily Yerty

I’m a teacher who believes in creating a classroom kids love and activities that keep them engaged all day!

26 Responses

  1. They are called Trofast storage frames with Trofaast storage bins. There are different configurations and sizes in the collection. I picked the towers with 8 thin drawers for my classroom.

  2. I've found that it is hard to keep cloth pillows and cushions clean. Germs spread more quickly with flexible seating (nobody talks about that) and it did not pass health inspection when they came through. Had to cover everything with a washable cover. Did you have this issue?

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your journey! I just started down this path with my kinders after 18 years of teaching and so far, I'm loving it (and so are the kids!) I love the Big Book idea you came up with – do you have it for sale? I'm new here, I'll go check out your products tab after posting this….maybe I can answer my own question! Thanks again!

  4. Your classroom looks FABULOUS!! In order to create this environment I imagine you spent a ton of money! Did you get a grant of some kind to help pay for all of this? Do you mind sharing how much money you spent? Thank you!

  5. My school starts with breakfast in the classroom. Any tips on how kinder should enter the classroom and choose their seat for breakfast the first day before any modeling or expectations have been explained?

    1. I just saw this on another kinder teacher's blog (Mr. Greg, I think). He uses trays like you get at a restaurant, then he teaches students how to clean them with a wipe.

  6. Hi Emily,

    After thinking about flexible seating a lot last spring, your post encouraged me to jump in this fall. I was so nervous the first week of school, but it went well and I've decided to give your smart seat book a try this week as students start picking their own spots. I came back to your blog and your classroom pictures just blow me away! So…quick question…did you get a grant to update your room? Did you have classroom funds or did you spend mostly out of pocket?

  7. I’m a future teacher and not many schools in my area use flexible seating, but I absolutely want to! Any tips for a first year teacher trying it out? I’m really nervous that I’ll feel overwhelmed in any classroom, especially a flexible one! I’m someone who craves structure and control, but I refuse to be the kind of teacher who ultimately inhibits the magic of learning by forcing unrealistic rules and structure. I’ve learned that with children involved, you HAVE to be flexible. Things never go as planned! �� So, I’m trying to gain as much knowledge on flexible seating (and simply being flexible) as I can before I actually enter the field of education. Thanks so much, I know this was a long comment!

  8. How do you attach the pencil box name tags? I’ve used hot glue and clear tape, but the Ss still pull them off. How do hog attach them?

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