Furniture for the Classroom

Furniture takes up lots of room, so if you’re lucky enough to have some choice about how you furnish your classroom, you’ll want to choose carefully. Look for pieces that will be truly useful, give you as much space as possible for flexible instruction, and allow the children to move around easily. If at all possible, choose furniture that will leave space for students to gather in a whole-group circle.

Furniture You’ll Really Use.

Here are our top picks for “truly useful” classroom furniture.

  • A simple table for meeting with small groups. Tables come in many shapes and sizes. All you need is something simple (and as streamlined as possible) where you can work with students comfortably on reading, writing, and so forth.
  • Desks or tables for student seat work. Desks give you more flexibility for forming clusters or pairs of students, but tables can work well, too. If a child seated at a table finds tablemates distracting, staple together a couple of file folders to form a “privacy screen.”
  • A couple of additional tables for special areas. Besides their desks or tables, it’s great if students can have extra space for writing, science, and computer work. If you haven’t room for separate tables for these areas, teach the children how to move materials safely so that one table can do double duty.
  • An easel with chart paper. This is a great tool for teaching and for recording children’s ideas during group discussions.
  • Simple shelving. Simple wire shelving from a hardware store provides space for storing books and supplies and displaying projects. Wooden and plastic shelving work fine, too. Try to keep shelf tops clear so you can use them for display space.
  • Baskets, bins, or boxes. Use these on shelves to store children’s personal items, books, and classroom supplies. If you’re short on shelving, look for bins that stack while still allowing access to contents.
Furniture You Might Be Able to Lose.

If space is tight in your classroom, here are some pieces you might want to get rid of.

  • The teacher’s desk. This can take up a lot of space, and if you’re like me, you probably don’t use it much except to store things and perhaps to sit at the end of the day. When I got rid of my desk, I had many more options for arranging the classroom. And I collected much less clutter!
  • A large file cabinet. These eat up space and encourage us to keep things we don’t need. Think smaller. What files are truly essential? You can probably store what you really need in one or two small mobile file cabinets.
  • The latest, greatest thing. Education has fads, and furniture is no exception. My first year of teaching, I paid too much for a nifty folding table to house the listening center for my second graders. The table never really worked and always seemed to be in the way. You may be better off sticking to basics.

Margaret Berry Wilson is the author of several books, including: The Language of Learning, Doing Science in Morning Meeting (co-authored with Lara Webb), Interactive Modeling, and Teasing, Tattling, Defiance & More.

Tags: Classroom Library, Classroom Organization