Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Furniture Quest for a Collaborative Classroom

I’m in the Dallas, Texas, area this weekend (in Allen, specifically) serving as a chauffeur for my in-laws, who are visiting family. I’m also, however, on a furniture quest for my wife, as she seeks to create more spaces in her elementary classroom for collaboration and engaged learning. Yesterday I spent a couple hours at IKEA, and today I’m visiting Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM) as well as returning to IKEA to make some purchases. Both spots are about 20 minutes away from the hotel where we’re staying, and offer FAR more furniture choices that what we have in Oklahoma City. In this post, I’ll summarize what I’m looking for and what we’ve found (also on the WalMart website) so far. I’ve added direct links to many of these items on the IKEA website in case you’re interested in ordering some of these items for your own classroom. I’ll also follow up this post tonight with updates about what I found and actually bought today at NFM as well as IKEA.

Last week, Shelly spent a few hours in her classroom and worked with a friend to draw a diagram of how she wants to create separate learning spaces this year. She will be teaching 3rd and 4th graders again in 2015-16 at Positive Tomorrows in Oklahoma City.

Classroom plan by shellyfryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  shellyfryer 

She wants several new pieces of furniture, and because of time factors these are things she doesn’t have time to put on her classroom Amazon Wish list and wait for donors to provide. She wants a round or square table with seating for four (“family table” in the above diagram), a thinner “bar style” raised table higher stools 4 students can use (“rotating center”), a large, comfortable carpet (about 7′ x 9′) in the center for class meetings and other times, and some foam or other comfortable floor pillows or mats that can be used in the reading center. They can’t have head rests, however, for health reasons. She also wants a couple 5′ x 7′ carpet pieces that can move as needed.

Last week Shelly  found a number of items on the WalMart website that she thought could work for her classroom, and I’m using these prices as benchmarks as I compare them to items at IKEA and NFM.

Shelly’s Classroom Furniture Wish List a by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Wesley Fryer 

Yesterday when I was at IKEA, I took photos of items I found and texted them to Shelly so she could review them and give feedback. At this point, the “as – is” round table pictured in the center of the collage below ($148.80 instead of the normal $229) is something I’m hoping to purchase today, along with the $45 small coffee table (IKEA link) in the middle right spot of the photo collage. The $35 colored chairs with wheels (IKEA link) also look good, and I’ll probably get 3 of those for her students to use as classroom computer chairs. The narrow desk pictured in the lower right corner ($179 in store, $199 online) is on the “possible” list, but probably the one with black legs that won’t show so many scuffs, depending on what I find at NFM. Hopefully I can find something cheaper for that, because that’s a bit more than I want to spend for that desk if possible.

Classroom furniture shopping at IKEA by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Wesley Fryer 

I also think I’ll probably buy 4 to 6 $5 metal and plastic stools (IKEA link) that her students could use around the coffee table or in other areas. These seem pretty sturdy, and at $5 each we won’t be investing too much if they turn out to not be as durable as we hope.

$5 Metal and plastic stools at IKEA by Wesley Fryer, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Wesley Fryer 

I’m very excited that Lawton, Oklahoma educator Vanessa Perez (@vperezy) has launched the #notreadytour Challenge. It’s a virtual space for Oklahoma teachers to share photos, ideas and links about classrooms and learning spaces, to inspire and encourage others to re-imagine and re-invent classrooms. Shelly is planning to post about her classroom design journey soon on her blog, in response to Vanessa’s challenge. You should consider posting too!


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