Not every piece of furniture in the classroom has to be a desk or chair. Lakeshore’s Comfy Corner Listening Center is a 41- by 41-inch padded square that can be nestled into the corner of any classroom for kids to comfortably sit and quietly read, listen to recorded music or go through a worksheet. The $279 pad is made of washable vinyl and includes a wooden rack for CDs and electronics.
If the goal is to have a class that sits still, you may be missing the point, according to Smith System. The company’s classroom chairs promote movement for better breathing and concentration – and hopefully, better learning. It’s called the Graduated Movement Concept and it has been designed like the bucket seat on a car, not only for comfort and to provide support but to let kids flex their muscles and move around without fighting with the chair. Smith’s Plato, Intuit and Flavors seats do all this and come in 17 colors.
Most schools still use design elements that date from the 1920s and 30s at best, making the classroom a staid place that’s not exactly conducive to 21-st century learning. Bretford has a Discovery Guide that is meant to help schools reinvent education, or at least the furniture that students and teachers use every day. The guide uses the Edu2.0 furniture items to transform a school into a place flexible enough to be reconfigured to support a variety of educational techniques.
With so many classrooms created from small rooms never intended for instruction, the question arises: where does the teacher’s desk go? With Anthro’s eNook you probably don’t need one. eNook is a place for a computer along with a work surface that folds out of a wall and can be locked up when not in use. There’s room for a desktop or notebook computer and places to stash the wires. It costs between $1,129 and $1,199
Now you see it, now you don’t. The latest computer desk from Versatables has a pair of flip-open panels for notebooks that can be folded flat for other work. The Revolution furniture has a steel frame, laminate surfaces and measures 72-inches; there’s also a 48-inch version for one student. It’s available in gray or black legs and four surface colors, sells for $939 or $750 (depending on size) and has a lifetime warranty.
With computers, tablets, projectors and all sorts of digital teaching gear, it’s a wonder that we can walk around any classroom without tripping over power cords network connections and all the other cables that seem to grow every year. Bretford’s Edu 2.0 line of furniture has strategically located fold open places for connecting a slew of notebooks or desktops. There will soon be tables that have the PowerMat electrical pad built in for charging digital equipment. Just put the device on the inductive pad and it gets charged. See it all at booth 2725.
Need to outfit a digital classroom, but traditional school furniture doesn’t make the right connections? Smith System’s I~O Post is a standalone unit that can sit at the end of a work table or where several meet and provide access to 8 power outlets as well as 8 LAN or modem jacks. This way everyone will stay charged and online.
After seeing the Little Tikes Young Explorer desk I have to say that I’m mightily jealous that they don’t make one of these for grownups. The plastic workstation is perfect for those up to 7-years old, has a flat desk big enough for a keyboard and mouse and wrap-around wings so that adjacent kiddie workstations don’t bother each other.
It measures 47- by 34- by 43-inches and has a bench that’s big enough to accommodate two kids sharing the screen. Its seat flips up to reveal a storage area for everything from Crayons to software. I really like that there are no exposed wires and the computer has its own ventilated cabinet that can be locked shut.
Inside is a Lenovo ThinkCentre PC with 1GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive, a pair of speakers and a DVD drive. There’s a 19-inch flat screen and a very colorful matching keyboard and mouse. It comes with early learning programs like Millie's Math House, Sammy's Science House, Bailey's Book House, Trudy's Time and Place and Thinkin' Things. With Windows and a 1-year warranty, the Young Explorer desk sells for $2,600.
We’ve spent a generation putting computers onto and next to school desks, but what if the desk was the computer. That’s the idea behind Portugal-based Displax’s Crayon. The interactive table has a touch-screen display mounted flush with the surface so that small kids can work directly with the built-in painting and drawing software without a physical computer, keyboard or mouse getting in the way. There are lessons on recycling and healthy eating habits. No word on availability, price or how often you’ll need to clean the glass.