Educational Furniture: Take Your Classroom Environment Out Into the Environment
February 25, 2022
Water, sunlight, and nurture. We aren’t talking about plants, but people. We need the same things to not only survive, but thrive, especially in the work world. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people are indoors for 90% for each day. Most of that time, for adults and students alike, is spent behind a desk. In fact, studies have shown that just 25% of workers will spend more than an hour outside in an entire day. But how does this affect productivity in the workplace or classroom?
Researchers have found that people cooped up in their classrooms and offices all day have less energy and are usually found to be in worse moods. These two traits affect a worker’s productivity in a very negative way. So, offices and schools are looking to make changes.
It is difficult to find time in the day to step away from your desk for long periods of time when you know there is work to be done. So, many offices have taken it upon themselves to hosting ‘walking meetings’. Instead of holding a staff meeting inside the office, employers are asking their employees to step outside for a walk and talk—combining the promotion of healthy habits and productivity. Other offices have simply scattered plants throughout the building, in an attempt to bring some of the outdoors inside. According to psychologists, placing plants through a building can increase well-being and productivity by fifteen percent. This trick can also be used within classrooms, but the flexibility that education brings, allows more movement and taking your classroom outside.
After education survived a pandemic that included fully remote learning, hybrid learning models and everything in between, what educators realized was that learning truly can take place anywhere. And it should. Moving students out of their desks and outside can have a number of positive effects on students and their ability to learn.
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point conducted numerous studies on the effects of outdoor learning and their findings showed only positive results. Learning outdoors increases students’ physical, mental, and social health. Access to nature has also been shown to decrease the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and stress levels of both students and teachers. Students who learn outdoors also develop a long list of social/emotional skills, including a sense of self, independence, confidence, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving skills, empathy towards others, motor skills, self-discipline, and initiative.
So where do you start? Nothing about this classroom should be traditional. After all, you are outside and the whole point is to shake things up, from the environment to student desks, student chairs, and teaching materials.
Schools are moving away from traditional pieces of educational furniture to a more relaxed, home away from home feels. You can read further about the change in educational furniture in Freedom Interiors’s blog: Educational Spaces Starting To Look Like Office Spaces.
Functional and Easily Moveable Seating and Tables
It’s important to think about having light-weight chairs and tables that are easily movable to not only accommodate different learning methods, but also to utilize in different areas of the school. Not all outdoor classroom furniture has to be for outside use only. Sure, you want to have furniture that can withstand the elements. After all, if you think about living in Kansas City, there is a stretch of winter that you dare not go out in. You want furniture that can double as indoor and outdoor use, giving you the most flexibility and opportunity for use.
sixinch provides a wide range of indoor/outdoor furniture great for educational purposes. Their design comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, some like you’ve never seen before, giving a true meaning to changing it up. Students thrive on new and different, and these pieces add to those cravings.
These Herman Miller chairs were not necessarily created as educational pieces of furniture. However, its durability and weather resistant features make this chair a no brainer for outdoor educational furniture. The Outdoor Weave was built off the same technical capabilities of the Aeron chair, one of the best-selling office task chairs in the country, known for its extreme comfort and support. This line of chairs comes with an option ottoman, which is great for adding additional comfort and relaxation for students or giving them a makeshift workspace.
The Ethos educational chair from Haskell Education identifies as more than a chair. It doubles as an active learning platform for 21st century students. This education chair has a 360-degree swiveling capability for easy transition between face-front lecture style learning to turning for collaboration with groups or partners. The chair comes equipped with a tablet arm and personal storage that can be moved for right or left-handed individuals, along with wheels for easy movement.
Sister to the Ethos chair, this stool is nearly identical in features to its counterpart. The designers considered everything in the creation of this chair. The Ethos stool allows for comfortable seating at any level. The adjustable height allows students and teachers to be seated at a normal student desk height, as well as café-height tables. It still allows for a 360-degree swivel for easy collaboration and movement, as well as an opening at the top of the chair as an easy grip handle that allows for better control when moving the student’s furniture. You can even include an adjustable foot ring for added comfort.
This table from Haskell is one of the most space efficient tables in today’s market. In a time when schools are looking for furniture solutions that allow for creativity and storage in one, this is the answer. Sitting on wheels, this table was engineered to be easily transported. It is constructed of steel tube and formed steel construction to endure the outdoors with durability, and the top of the table is made from solid butcher block that can withstand wear and tear from daily use.
This educational table comes in multiple styles each with storage modules with bins, power units and locking casters to hold the table in place. One of the models allows the butcher block top to retract, giving housing to six stools.
The wheels on this height-adjustable table allows for easy movement from indoors to outdoors. The light-weight design promotes movement between students while still giving them a small workspace. The sit to stand student desk fosters a healthier educational environment by allowing for more student movement. Students burn 15-25% more calories per week when they are able to stand rather than sit. It also improves cognitive brain function through creativity and productivity. This student and teacher desk comes in a variety of sizes and functionality to better fit individual needs.
Stationary Outdoor Educational Furniture
This café-height round table is great for small group collaboration in an outdoor classroom. This table was designed with strictly the outdoors in mind. The UV-protected surface resists wear and tear from the sun, the powder coated frame resists weather and can stand up to the normal wear and tear from students. This heavy-weight, durable student table is meant to remain outdoors through all seasons.
The necessary accessory to the outdoor café table are the Tiki Outdoor Café stools. These too were meant for outdoor only use and come with the same UV-resistant and powder coat finishes that the outdoor table has. These outdoor student chairs are light weight and stackable to add more flexibility and movement in spaces.
These standard student lunch tables can easily double as collaboration spaces in your outdoor classroom. The Palmer Hamilton seating comes in two, four, and six-person options which allows you to place tables to best fill your space. These strictly made for outdoor use tables are made with polyester-based polymer that protects the tabletop and seats from UV damage, and the powder coat frame finish will stand up against any weather. The table also comes with the option of an umbrella hole to allow for extra shade for the especially sunny school days.
From traditional student lunch tables to completely non-traditional furniture. This lounge seating will have students fighting for the chance to utilize this learning space. The free form design allows for multiple uses and ways for students to use this seating option, whether it be sitting or lying down. This piece of art turned furniture was created with nearly indestructible polyethylene making it a great option for an outdoor classroom.
Freedom’s Outdoor Classroom
Freedom Interiors has completed numerous outdoor classrooms, giving schools to opportunity for a different learning environment. Goodman Elementary in the Neosho School District was given an outdoor classroom with Tonik furniture in 2019.
Freedom’s team worked with the school district directly to outfit a new elementary school. The process was a little different as the designer created a menu of furniture options for teachers to choose from. The team assisted the principal to narrow down the approved furniture options that teachers were then able to select based upon individual need.
The outdoor classroom and community space was fitted with furniture as unique as the school’s needs. The space provided an alternative learning and meeting space for teachers and students.