Flexible Seating Options for Special Education

Imagine this… It’s 3:15PM on Wednesday afternoon. All of your students have gone home, you’ve got 12 stacks of papers scattered around your classroom, an IEP to write, 6 progress reports to update, and a faculty meeting to attend in 15 minutes.
Wait, what? A faculty meeting. *insert face palm and long sigh or groan*
But then you remember. The faculty room has yoga balls, Hokki stools, and pedal desks. #WHAAAAAT
Let me just say this… flexible seating is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
It allows students to move around the classroom, work and communicate openly and collaboratively, while fostering creativity and critical thinking skills. (Imagine if faculty rooms actually had those flexible seating options! All the things would get accomplished…)
Flexible Seating in SPED

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In the past are the times of traditional rows of metal desks facing the front of the classroom. Today’s classroom environment is flexible, collaborative, and engaging. It’s differentiated, focused, and fun for students.

And it’s perfect for any classroom. More importantly, it’s perfect for your special education classroom.

But there are soooo many options when it comes to flexible seating, which is great! …andddd overwhelming all at the same time. It’s kind of like going to Homegoods in search of that one Rae Dunn mug, and finding 30. #yeahIwentthere

Either way, I have a few recommendations for flexible seating options for your special needs classroom. Tried and true by myself and my friends, you can’t go wrong with any of these.

Before we get started, I want to let you know that you can click on any of the images to shop that flexible seating option right on Amazon. Some links are affiliate links, and the pennies I earn for click-throughs help keep this blog running. 🙂

standing desks flexible seating

[ Purchase here on Amazon. ]
The one resource classroom in my school has a few of these desks and they. are. amazing! You can the “traditional” school desk height for sitting or you can make them standing desks. The little bar at the bottom is for a student to swing with his or her feet. I can attest to this desk being legit… I think all desks should have those swinging feet bars.

butterfly seat flexible seating

[ Purchase here on Amazon. Second option. Bungee Chair.]
These chairs just suck you into infinite comfort, and the students just love them.

The bungee chairs… for a special needs classroom… can kind of  either be a distractor (think of a sensory bungee playground), but it could also be a great reward for a student.

yoga balls and mats flexible seating[ Purchase yoga balls on Amazon. Purchase yoga mats on Amazon. ]

Yoga mats are a great flexible seating option, and they’re relatively cheap. I’ve heard of teachers cutting one mat in half to get 2 flexible seating options out of 1 mat.

Yoga balls are great to use at any student desk or table in your classroom. As with anything, you will need to talk with your students about appropriate use of the yoga ball in the classroom. 😉

floor pillow flexible seating
[ Purchase floor pillows at Lakeshore Learning. ]
Not only are these pillows great for sensory use in the classroom, they’re great for getting work done too. We have a light blue giant calming pillow in our classroom, and we can fit 2 students on it comfortably.

My one student also like to sit on it and hop around on it like it’s a horse… so there’s that imaginative and dramatic play aspect to it too 🙂

stools and crates flexible seating[ Purchase stacking stools at IKEA. Pack of 5 on Amazon. Purchase 6-pack of crates on Amazon. ]

The IKEA stacking stools are where it’s at. They easily stack up to save space in the classroom and they’re super inexpensive (I think like $5 a seat!).

crate seats from eatsleepkinderThe BEST crate seating hack I’ve ever seen was this. The teacher flipped the create upsidedown, bought those seat cushions, and tied them on.

bean bag chairs flexible seating[ Purchase bean bag chair on Amazon. Purchase bean bag sac on Amazon. ]

I feel like bean bag chairs were so 90’s … but they’re a thing again! At least in the classroom… and the kids love them!

I have this love-hate with bean bag chairs. If it pops or gets a hole, those little styrofoam beads. get. everywhere. and they stick. to. everything. Although having a student vaccuum up the little beads is a great life skill.

BUT bean bag chairs are easy to fix and now you can buy more bead filling. 🙂

lap desks flexible seating[ Purchase as shown above on Amazon. Purchase foam lap desk on Amazon. ]

Lap desks come in many shapes, sizes, and colors… and are very versatile desks for students to work on.

Just stack them for storage, which also helps save a ton of space!

wobble seats flexible seating[ Purchase Option 1. Option 2. Option 3. ]

Our OT has so many different variations of these wobble seats, so I would definitely check with your OT before purchasing any for your classroom.

These seats are also great for sensory input and output for students who need it. You can get them filled with sand or different sized beads, or the more traditional ones that you just pump with air.

hokki seats flexible seating[ Purchase 12inch. 15inch. 18inch. 20inch. ]

Wobble stools… Hokki stools… they’re pretty much the same thing.

They come in a variety of stool heights and they’re great because, well, they wobble. Students can move and “wobble” to get the sensory input or output they desire, while working.

scoop seats flexible seating[ Purchase a pack of 6 on Amazon. Second option on Amazon.]

Scoop seats went c.r.a.z.y. this past summer because so many of you were literally scooping them up for super low deals at WalMart.

From my experience, these are great for younger elementary students, but I have heard of third and fourth grade teachers using these in their flexible seating classrooms as well.

clipboards and carpet flexible seating[ Purchase pack of 6 clip boards on Amazon. Pack of 30 clip boards on Amazon. ]

Carpet squares! Clipboards! Working hard, oh my … okay, that was corny. But really. Carpet squares and clipboards.

In liu of carpet squares, you can use hoola hoops to determine a student’s work space. Pool noodles taped into a circle shape. Anything to gives students a defined work space and personal space bubble.

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If you’re looking for some great resources for Flexible Seating, from parent information brochures, to seat check-ins and editable rule posters… stop by Just a Primary Girl’s TPT Store. She is THE person to go to (IMO) for Flexible Seating.

Flexible seating pin

Flexible seating is a great quick and easy accommodation that you can add implement in the classroom to help friends who have difficulty sitting in a typical chair during the day.  Learn more about accommodations vs. modifications here.

Do you utilize flexible seating in your classroom? Tell us how in the comments!




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