I’m a firm believer that flexible seating in any classroom improves students’ learning experience. I’m well aware there are pros and cons, but in my experience, the pros far outweigh the cons.
For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, flexible seating is just about any classroom configuration except desks in a row. Some of the most popular, non-traditional seating includes yoga balls, bean bag chairs, pillows and couches, and seating rugs and squares.
Another option for flexible seating is stools. Today, I will give a review of my choices for the best stools in the classroom. Then later I give tips and more ideas about our main topic. But before we get started, here’s my personal favorite – the Topeakmart Round Stack Tools! Why? You’ll know soon enough.
|1. Topeakmart Stack Stools||
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|2. ECR4Kids Wobble Stool||
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|3. KidsErgo Ergo Stool||
Ideal Active Seating
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|4. ECR4Kids Sit Or Step Stool||
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My Choice Of The Best Seven Stools For School
- Topeakmart Round Stack Stools
- ECR4Kids ACE Active Core Wobble Stool
- ECR4Kids Lil’ Sprout Stool
- Norwood Mobile Stack Stool
- KidsErgo Ergonomic Stool
- Norwood Commercial Furniture Stack Stool
- ECR4Kids Wooden Sit or Step Stool
Recommended Age: suitable for children and adults
Height: 17.3 inches
Material: Metal frame, hard plastic seat
These durable nesting stools are easy to wipe down and keep hygienic. They come in a collection of 10 in bright colors, including green, blue, red, white, and yellow. The metal frame is anti-rust, so you can wash them without causing them to slowly deteriorate. They have a high-load capacity of 265 pounds.
The tube diameter is 0.9 x 0.05 inches of 16 gauge steel. The stool dimensions are 12.2 x 12.2 x 17.3 inches. The seat has ventilation holes with a 1.2-inch diameter. The screws that hold the seat should be checked and tightened if necessary every two weeks.
The stackable feature is very convenient for classroom use. They can be easily stored or moved to the side of the room without taking up much space.
- Protective foot caps prevent scratches on the floor
- X-frame attachment of the seat to the frame for stability
- Seat edges are rounded for comfort
- Children should not stand on the stools
These colorful stools are great for any age elementary class. Besides, they are quite cheap stools that fit under a standard table or desk and are comfortable even for long-term use.
Recommended Age: 6 to 10 years
Height: 15 inches and other sizes
This is a wiggle stool that is specifically designed for flexible seating classrooms. It meets or exceeds the standards of both the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) as well as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It is 13 x 13 x 15 inches in dimension and weighs five pounds.
It has a weight capacity of 165 pounds. It has a non-slip seat and a rubber base that will not damage floors. The rounded base allows students to rock and wiggle 360 degrees. The textured seat also helps kids from slipping off when they are moving around. The frame is lightweight for easy shifting around the room.
This stool is recommended for fidgety children and those who may have ADHD, ADD, or special needs. It is certified safe by GreenGuard Gold for reducing chemical pollutants
- Ideal for STEM curriculum environments
- Active Core Engagement (ACE) means it strengthens core muscles
- Helps improve posture
- Easy to clean with a damp sponge and water
- The top may not be securely attached
- They do not slide in and out when the child wants to stand up
This is one of the best stools for flexible seating for any classroom. It comes in several sizes, so you can get it for kindergarten up to sixth graders.
Watch this short video to get an idea of how children use the wobble stools, and the sizes and colors you can get.
Recommended Age: 12 months +
Height: 15.3 inches
Material: Resin-based heavy-duty plastic
This stool can be used indoors and outdoors. It serves both as a side table and stool with a storage shelf under the seat. It comes in bright colors of yellow, blue, and green and is made from heavy-duty resin plastic that won’t fade, crack, chip or peel.
The stool is easy to keep clean with soap and warm water and is suitable for long-term use. The attractive hourglass contemporary design will look great in a classroom. It is sturdy and won’t tip over even with the wiggliest child.
The dimensions are 14.4 x 14.4 x 15.3 inches and the weight is 5.7 pounds. The weight limit is 200 pounds.
The kid stools were designed to be used outside, so they can be put in a sandbox or just as a place for children and teachers to sit on the playground.
- Storage shelf for books or toys
- Indoor/outdoor use
- Attractive hourglass design
- Storage space is small
- Storage space is not level
This stool is best for younger children from pre-school age to about third grade. They are light enough for children to easily move around the room. Some teachers found them useful for a library.
Recommended Age: 17-inch for 7 to 9 years, 12-inch for 4 to 6 years
Height: 17.75 inches
Material: Metal legs with heavy-duty plastic seat
This stool weighs 20 pounds with dimensions of 11.75 x 11.75 x 17 inches. It also comes in 12-inch height for kindergarten or first-grade children. The bundle of stackable stools includes four stools of one red, one blue, one green, and one purple stool.
You have to purchase the bundle as single items are not available.
It has casters for easy mobility. A student can wheel the whole stack at one time. The stools are manufactured by Norwood Commercial Furniture. There is a difference of opinion about the durability of the stools. I think this model is better for older children who may not treat it as roughly as younger ones might. It definitely works better on a tile or wood floor.
The unique feature is the rolling casters, which make it easy to move on a non-carpeted floor because 20 pounds is a bit heavy for little ones to carry around. =
- Stackable for saving space and easy storage
- Has a metal ring under the seat for stability
- Seat can be kept clean with warm water and detergent
- Not very comfortable for long periods of sitting
- Plastic seat may pop off and need to be reattached
I recommend the 17-inch stool for older children at a computer bank
Recommended Age: 4 to 9 years
Height: 15 inches
Material: recyclable technopolymer
This stool not only allows for wiggling but also promotes healthy posture and builds core strength. It’s good for growing children as it engages the vestibular and proprioceptive systems.
It is considered better than the exercise ball because it’s more stable, and there is little chance the child will roll off during normal classroom activities. It’s also great fun to play with.
It is designed to follow the key aspects of Universal Design for Learning. The stool has won the Good Design Award, the Mind Spring Academics Choice award, and the Edison Award for design. The shape and colors make it an attractive addition to your classroom.
The KidsErgo is 15 inches tall and weighs 4.7 pounds, but there is also one for adults at 20.5 inches in height. The weight capacity for the KidsErgo is 170 pounds.
This stool has a wider seat than many at 20.5 inches
- Durable to support the constant movement
- Supports concentration
- Helps children safely wiggle during lessons
- Rarely, but it has collapsed and leaked air
- Always stay within the recommended weight limit
This is a good model for any classroom from first grade upwards. It fulfills the exercise benefits of an exercise ball but is much more stable for younger children.
These are unusual-looking stools, to say the least. Watch this video to get an idea of how they work and one dad’s opinion of the benefits.
Recommended Age: 5 years and older
Height: 16.5 inches
Material: polypropylene plastic
This is a very lightweight stool that is easy to keep clean and move around. The hole in the middle of the seat makes it easy to pick up even when they are stacked. The dimensions are 19.88 x 20.75 x 16.5 inches.
They have an ultraviolet (UV) protective treatment that makes them fade-proof when they are used outdoors. They come in a set of four with one red, one green, one purple, and one blue stool. The weight capacity is 220 pounds.
The hole in the middle is unique for this list and makes it easy to move these lightweight stools around.
- Many teachers report students prefer them over chairs
- Not a con, but these are just ordinary stools with no added benefits
They may be best for playground use as they are not wiggle stools.
Recommended Age: Two years to adult
Height: 13.2 inches
Material: solid wood
This beautiful wooden stool has cut-out handles that make it easy to hold while moving it from room to room. All of the edges are rounded for safety and it has been certified safe by GreenGuard Gold for minimal toxic emissions into the air.
It has a useful shelf under the seat for storing books and toys, which is level and will hold the items even when you are moving them. The stool weighs 11 pounds and the dimensions are 15 x 15.3 x 13.2 inches. The seat is assembled at 13 inches. Its weight capacity is upwards of 150 pounds.
This is a stepping stool mainly designed for youngsters to reach high places. It’s also very comfortable for sitting.
- The solid wood looks classy, not cheap
- The top is big enough for an adult to stand on
- No rubber grips on the feet, so it tends to slide
- Does not support wiggling
If you have a rug that supports flexible seating, this may be a good stool for children to sit on while they listen to audiobooks or language lessons.
Other Possibilities For Flexible Seating In Your Classroom
This article gives a detailed explanation of the different styles and the pros and cons of flexible seating. It includes research on the subject that I think will convince any teacher who has watched their students squirm, slouch and stop listening in a conventional desk and chair.
Flexible seating in a classroom, especially for elementary school-age children allows students to focus their attention on the lessons rather than how uncomfortable they are. Teachers all over the world are changing the configuration of their classrooms to be more child and learner-friendly.
The wobbly stools above are just one option, and I think one of the best, but there are many more ways to allow your students to take control of their learning experience.
Here are five more options. I use a combination of rugs, stools, and chairs to create a welcoming environment in my classroom. Here you can find a few examples of outstanding flexible seating classrooms. The possibilities are unlimited. This Pin will also give you endless examples to help you choose the best ideas for your classroom.
Bean Bag Chairs
Bean bags create what is called by the renowned expert in classroom design, Professor Stephen Heppell, a borderless environment. Bean bag chairs have been around for years, but their use in the classroom is fairly recent. They are light and flexible and can be easily moved around the room by children if they want to sit alone to read or be in a group discussion.
Bean bag chairs promote good posture and support the back without being uncomfortable. Children can relax and focus on their work.
If you need more information before choosing to add bean bag chairs to your classroom, I recommend you read this article where you will find a wealth of research in one place that’s already done for you. This is my choice for the best bean bag chair available today.
- The polystyrene bead filling is replaceable
- It only weighs 10 pounds
- The soft faux-leather polyurethane cover is certified safe
- It is easy to wipe with a damp cloth to keep clean
The cover feels soft on the skin and the chair is light enough for children to move it for individual or group lessons. The dimensions are 30 x 30 x 36 inches and it is suitable for even a two-year-old. It has two locking zippers that prevent little ones from opening the bag to let out the beads. It’s a great option when a child wants to relax and read or use a tablet.
Working on the floor with a tablet or book is a viable option for a flexible seating classroom. It is especially useful for children who do not or cannot sit still for long. Even if your classroom is carpeted, classroom rugs are a big help for defining spaces for floor work and attracting children to sit on the floor.
The rugs are specifically made for different age groups and activities. Some have shapes and colors, some have the alphabet and some have themes such as the solar system or farm animals.
Classroom rugs can define a destination place for listening to audiobooks or a gathering place where you read a story. They also function as noise suppressors and add safety to a slippery floor.
To get more ideas about their uses and learn about different types of rugs, I recommend you read this post. My favorite classroom rug is this:
- Has months, days, years, seasons, and alphabet
- Very popular with students
- Large size suitable for up to 26 kindergarten – second-grade students
This is one of the best classroom rugs you can have. It is full of information that the younger ones learn just by sitting and playing on the rug throughout the school year. Its large size, 8 feet two inches by nine feet 10 inches allows up to 26 children to sit around the edge.
It is made from wear and fade-resistant, low pile polypropylene with rubber backing. It is not easily damaged by markers, paint, food, or Play-doh and can be wiped with a damp cloth. I make sure mine is vacuumed every week.
The best recommendation for this carpet is it’s really fun and educational.
There has been a lot of research done on the use of stability balls in the elementary classroom to improve the student’s educational experience and learning. Much of the research shows that there is a connection between student attentiveness and movement.
Stability balls also called exercise balls to come in several sizes for different uses and sizes of the people using them. You can also get ring bases that hold the ball in place and prevent the child from rolling off. This isn’t a big problem for older children but could be an issue for kindergarten through second-grade children.
You can learn more about the research and uses of stability balls in this article. My top pick is:
- It comes in multiple sizes
- It is made from anti-burst 2000-pound grade very durable PVC material
- It comes with a quick-inflation pump
This stability ball comes in five dimensions from 1.47 feet to 2.78 feet and 10 bright colors plus black. It has a non-slip surface and is recommended for exercising the core muscles and strengthening the back and stomach muscles.
I recommend this ball for flexible seating because it is a professional grade ball, which is essential for the rugged use it will get in a classroom.
Cushions Or Mats
Cushions and thick mats are an important part of floor work. They make sitting on the floor inviting for students who otherwise may decline the experience. They also have the added use of defining a space, so you can arrange them exactly how you want your group to sit.
Cushions are another way to allow children to fidget and move around without disrupting their concentration. This is possible because they are comfortable. Trying to hold still in a chair may make them uncomfortable and fidget because they want to escape. Here’s my pick for the best floor cushions:
- Foam covered with vinyl for easy cleaning
- Each cushion has carrying handles
- Non-slip bottom
The cushions come in a set of four and a wide variety of bright colors. The vinyl cover has GreenGuard Gold certification for non-toxic chemical emissions, and the foam is made without phthalates. Each cushion is 15 x 15 x 3 inches and they are suitable for all ages.
Scoop chairs also called scoop rockers have become a very popular addition to a flexible seating classroom for both students and teachers. They are small, shell-like pods that children can use to sit on the floor, rock back and forth, and have back support.
Children love them because they are comfortable, provide personal space, and are fun. Teachers love them for the same reasons and because they are great organizers for group or individual lessons.
They are easy to store as they spoon together and take up very little space. They can also be hung on a wall or stacked in a box. My personal favorite is:
- Suitable for three-year-olds and up
- Has a carrying handle
- Is very sturdy and durable
This scoop chair is made from non-toxic heavy-duty plastic. It has a weight capacity of 50 pounds. The colors available now are red and blue in packs of six. They are suitable for indoor and outdoor use and are easy to keep clean. The dimensions are 15.6 x 17.8 x 14.2 inches and each chair weighs nine pounds.
Setting Expectations On Flexible Seating In The Classroom
The video below is presented by a fifth-grade teacher who uses flexible seating in her classroom. She gives a clear picture of what to expect and some tips on how to avoid some of the problems she had when she first introduced it to her students. I hope you like it.
Tips For Choosing Stools For The Classroom
When you look for stools for your classroom, there are three main things you need to consider. These are functionality, strength, and comfort.
Functionality means the stools you choose are suitable for the age and purpose of the students using them. You should also consider the situation and length of time the students need to sit on the stool. This leads to comfort which I discuss below.
Functionality also means ease of use. Some stools come in groups of 10 and are stackable. This is a great feature for a classroom. The stools also shouldn’t be too heavy, so the children can easily move them and if you need to move them around the room often.
A classroom is considered a high-use environment. This is why strength is important. Buying stools is an investment, and you want a good return on your investment by buying durable stools that will last for years. You can check on the construction. Some stools are assembled with screws attaching a plastic seat to a metal frame, and some are one-piece plastic. Both are acceptable if the attachment is strong.
The metal tubing should be at least .08 inches in diameter. Thicker frames are stronger and last longer. You can check if a metal frame is fully welded. Also, check the plastic seat for safety and comfort.
Last, but far from least, the stool should be comfortable for the length of time it will be used. For an elementary classroom, it may be no more than an hour and a half at one time. If you have the chance, you should sit on the stool and see if it’s comfortable for you.
Also, check the height of the stool compared to the tables in your classroom and make sure it fits underneath.
From the moment they stand upright and take their first step, children like to move. It takes more energy for a growing child to sit still than it does to move around. Sitting still makes them tired and bored as any elementary teacher will tell you. This is the main reason flexible seating has become the classroom configuration of choice. Students don’t need to waste energy and attention sitting still and can give more attention to their school work.
My Top Pick
- Durable for years of use
- Stackable for saving space
- Easy to keep clean
Best for: These stools are suitable for students from first to fifth grade.
These colorful stackable stools have a metal frame and hard plastic seat. The seat has eight ventilation holes of 1.2-inch diameter and is comfortable for sitting up to an hour and a half. They come in a collection of 10 in bright colors of green, blue, red, white and yellow. The metal frame won’t rust, so you can wash them with mild detergent and water to keep them sanitary. The load capacity is 265 pounds, but children or teachers should not stand on them. They arrive assembled, but the screws should be checked and tightened two weeks after delivery. The X-frame construction ensures steadiness when children wiggle and move around.
Last Updated on August 19, 2021 by Emily