School Furniture that Encourages Active Learning

The benefits of using movement in the classroom are strongly supported by years of research including clinical studies, anatomical studies, and of course, success stories from teachers, parents, and students. Physical activity and learning go hand-in-hand and together can be an effective strategy for reinforcing lessons, improving retention rates, enhancing student health and fitness, and boosting morale in the classroom (Jensen, 2005). As the benefits of movement in the classroom have been realized by more and more educators, it has become apparent that there is a calling for teachers to create an active learning classroom for their students.

Promoting physical activity and health in the classroom can be accomplished through a physical classroom: One that gives a nod to what has worked in the traditional classroom, but has been transformed to provide students with options to sit, stand, reconfigure for collaborative learning, and move or fidget. While strategic lesson plans can integrate movement and learning, school furniture manufacturers are embracing the challenge to make school furniture that encourages active learning.

Thumbnail of Active Learning InfographicRelated: 5 Reasons to Incorporate Movement into Your Lesson Plans - Infographic

Standing Desks

An exploratory study, published by the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, observed the effect of stand-biased desks on academic engagement in elementary classrooms. Standing student desks were introduced to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade classrooms and were compared against traditional student desks in the same grade levels over the course of one year. The study found that the use of standing desks in elementary classrooms did not disrupt student engagement and that the standing desk did increase energy expenditure in the classroom. The study’s findings suggest that standing desks may be useful in combating childhood obesity without compromising academic engagement.

The sit stand desk offers students the option to sit or stand, allowing the student to make a physical adjustment during class without disturbing other students. New teaching strategies become available in classrooms of sit stand desks as teachers can incorporate the movement of sitting or standing into classroom activities. Increased energy expenditure and blood flow from sitting and standing activates the brain by delivering more oxygen to it, which is needed build and feed neural networks (Helgeson, 2011).

One popular sit stand desk is the AlphaBetter Desk by Safco Products. Not only does it offer the benefits of active learning, it includes a “fidget bar”. The patented Swinging Pendulum™ Footrest Bar provides students a quiet way to keep moving and expend energy without disrupting the class.

LearnFit Standing Desk

Students collaborating at the LearnFit Standing Desk.

AlphaBetter Standing Desk

AlphaBetter Desk

With the AlphaBetter® Desk students have a new desire to learn. Designed for students in grades 3-12, the AlphaBetter Desk easily adjusts from 26" to 42" high to allow students the choice to stand or sit while in the classroom. With the exclusive patented (Patent Nos. 8061278 & 8291833) Swinging Pendulum™ Footrest Bar students have a new way to sway! The footrest allows students to swing their feet providing extra movement to burn off excess energy. In addition it helps to correct posture. The steel frame with powder coat finish is built for long lasting durability. Choose from a premium or standard work surface, both made of extremely durable materials. Lower shelf provides additional storage of books and supplies.

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Child Sitting on Runtz Ball Chair

The Exercise Ball Chair

Exercise balls in the classroom are a fun and cost-effective solution to offering students options for movement. However, for the school who wants both active school furniture and a contemporary look and reputation, school furniture manufacturers have created exercise ball chairs.

The benefits of exercise ball chairs over the use of simple yoga balls include longer product lifetime and decreased likelihood of popping or punctures. Also, since exercise ball chairs are stabilized by some sort of chair structure, they are less likely than yoga balls to become airborne or spill students onto the floor. Additionally, they take up less real estate than an average sized yoga ball and can more easily be neatly stored away.

Read this handy PDF for exercise ball classroom management tips from The Teacher Geek

Zenergy Ball Chair

Zenergy Ball Chair

Fill your work space with vibrant energy that also brings a sense of calmness with the Zenergy Ball Chair. Designed with an (anti-burst) PVC exercise ball that is covered in 100 percent polyester mesh and won't roll away, your seating experience can come alive. Design allows a little zip in your sit by providing movement that not only helps you sit comfortably, but also helps you concentrate and supports better posture and balance. Movement keeps your mind open while keeping your body actively engaged while you're problem-solving or casually conversing. This active engagement can potentially help strengthen core muscles and allow natural fidgeting that studies have shown to help increase calorie burn. Use this 17-1/2" diameter, innovative seating as a complementary chair to your everyday seat. Weight capacity is 250 lb. The Zenergy Ball Chair is accented with four powder-coated steel legs and stationary glides and includes a pump to help you inflate to a better state of mind.

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Runtz Ball Chair

Runtz Ball Chair

Let your imagination run wild with seating that is all fun and games. Runtz is the answer for children's seating anywhere. Perfect for waiting areas, schools, daycares, lobbies or any space where smaller-sized guests might be hiding or seeking. Designed with an anti-burst, PVC exercise ball, this innovative chair will put a little bounce in how every child sits. The ball is covered in brightly colored, mesh fabric and offers a 250 lb. weight capacity. Seat size is 12" in diameter. Runtz is accented with four, powder-coated steel legs and includes a pump so every little seat can have a happy ending.

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Mobile Desks

The mobile desk is designed to allow students to easily and quickly reconfigure for group projects and collaborative learning. With mobile desks, classroom design becomes fluid, transitioning smoothly between lectures, circle and u-shaped discussions, and clustered learning stations. Wheels reduce the noisiness of re-configuring a classroom and make it light work for students.

Read one teacher's experience with mobile classroom desks.

Classroom of Ethos Mobile Chair Desks

Ethos Chairs

The Ethos Chair

More than a chair, Ethos doubles as an active learning platform for twenty-first century pedagogy. An agile quad base plus classic seat shell, Ethos blends flexibility (like 360-degree swiveling capability and an ambidextrous tablet arm) with mobility and personal storage. Haskell's seating design anticipates the needs of today’s vibrant classroom, a classroom that transitions seamlessly from lectures to discussions and interactive groups.

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Additional reading on creating active learning spaces:

Active Seating: Creating Comfort and Concentration for Fidgety Students

Tips for Classroom Movement

Why Do We Make Students Sit Still in Class?


How are you implementing active learning in your classroom? Share below how your classroom furniture or lesson plans encourage students to move.


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SOURCES:
-Jensen, Eric. Teaching with the Brain in Mind.Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1998. Print.
-Hegelson, John. 4 Simple Ways to Add Movement in Daily Lessons. Kappa Delta Pi Record. Winter 2011: 80-84. Print.
-Marianela Dornhecker, Jamilia J. Blake, Mark Benden, Hongwei Zhao & Monica Wendel. The Effect of Stand-Biased Desks on Academic Engagement: An Exploratory Study. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education. 2015: 53:5, 271-280.