Register Now

Tables or Desks in your classroom

Compiled By: Margaret916

Many of us have the question for whether tables or desks are better in our space. The opinions of our colleagues who have chosen one or the other and the lessons they've learned are important for us to add to our schema when making this choice!

I prefer desks
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

I do prefer desks but I can't imagine two person desks - I don't think I'd like those.

Pros to desks
- you can move them into groups, rows, etc., (more flexibilty in room layout)
- storage of pens, etc.,
- you can separate them for testing purposes

Pros to tables
- easier to do group work
- may take up less room
- sometimes easier to create more space simply by moving them

Cons to desks
- awkward to move
- insides get cluttered
- students play with items in desks
- can take up a lot more room

Cons to tables
- need to find storage for pens, binders, etc.,
- students are always in groups (makes socializing easier for students)
- less flexibility in room layout

View Thread
Posted by: Kermit


Kids are less attached to THEiR chair, or THEIR table, because the space is flexible. They don't have anything to play with and dig their hands into at a table (though I keep a container with pencils and erasers at each table.)

We can move around and have a very flexible work time. I have a class set of clipboards so any time we need one, the kids can take those and work on the floor (like for a test, I only allow 1-2 kids per table.)

I also invested in getting floor boards made at home depot from masonite. They are about 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 feet. The kids can take them and work on the floor in a group. During group work, sometimes the tables do fill up because a group may need more space than the table can provide.

If you go with tables, you need to think about your floor space carefully as you will probably use it more as well.

Also, the kids MUST have some sort of cubby or locker to store their things in! I have community supplies in my room, but you will want easy access to their things if you don't do community supplies.

Also, a suggestion: keep ALL the science journals for example, in one bin. Just pass them out when needed. Otherwise you will have 25 kids getting up at once to get their science journals from their lockers. It would be a mess. My kids only keep their reading and writer's workshop stuff in their cubbies along with lunch. Coats and bags are hung up in the cloak room. I keep all other materials in storage containers for each subject- including their portfolios, science journals, social studies books, etc.

The only problem I can see with tables is separating kids during state testing. During tests, like I said, I have kids who want to work on the floor... but this might not be possible with your test.

View Thread
Posted by: yesteach

though I agree with the above poster, it depends on teaching style. The majority of my teaching is cooperative, project-based activities. Desks were always in groups anyway, so tables just made more sense. Students constantly argued about "his desk" and "my stuff" and "her space." With a table it's "our table, our stuff and and our space." my students keep them pencils, crayons, etc. in a school box. We have "group" supplies in a basket on the table - markers, scissors, rulers, etc.

In addition to building community, I prefer it simply because it makes project work easier when you have a continuous flat surface. No gaps between desks, no slope (like some desks have) - it's all flat.

I currently have six 4x4 ft. square tables. I think I liked my rectangular ones better (3ft x 6ft), but these work...

View Thread
Posted by: AmyH

I like a combination of both...
I have two tables in my room and 12 desks... I change desks/table seating assignment every month. It is nice to have desks to flexibly form groups or keep kids separate within their own space.... tables are great for group work and seem to take up less space....
Most of my 3rd graders prefer desks... Why not ask your kids??:D

View Thread
Posted by: Lizmo

I love desks! Storage was difficult for me with tables. I love all the options you have with desks. Tables were boring for me! ...and more time consuming. Whenever we needed supplies it took FOREVER!

View Thread
Depends on your students
Posted by: nilvero

Mine are at tables and they talk and get easily distracted by each other WAY too much. I feel if they were at their own desks and the desks were not in as big of groups, they'd be less distracted. I know a teammate of mine feels the same way.

View Thread
No title
Posted by: Ontteacher

I love tables, PROVIDED THAT you have room in your class for kids to store their personal belongings such as pencil cases. I have tried putting caddies on each table, but the kids still want to use their own pencil cases and the tables end up getting way too cluttered. Unfortunately I don't have an easy solution in my room for a place for them to keep their own items.

I had desks and don't ever want to go back to them.

View Thread
Posted by: MalibuBarbie

I was able to move across the hall this past year to a room that came with tables! I love them!

I taught K about 8 years ago so I was very familiar and comfortable with community supplies. However, our first grade supply list has always asked for pencil boxes and all the good stuff that goes in them (markers, scissors, etc.) because all 3 first grades have had desks up until this year. Now two of us have tables so we DON'T want the silly pencil boxes and "personal" supplies anymore--maybe next year.

I found two 2-drawer dark blue plastic file cabinets at Big Lots. I put five kid's names on each drawer and they put their pencil boxes in them. The kids USED to go and get them out when they needed them but many haven't for months now! They'll end up going home at the end of the year with beautiful, new supplies if I don't do something about it!

In the middle of each table, I have a small caddy that holds markers, pencils, scissors, sticky notes, stamp pad, date stamp, pens and pencils. I thought they would be way too small but they work PERFECT for 4 or 5 kiddos.

Anyway, having one big smooth surface for the kids to work on is AWESOME! No one has an assigned spot!!! That has worked extremely well for me this year!!! I have two extra tables in the room--at the writing center and in the front of the can really spread out AND I can move trouble makers where ever I want to WHEN I need to.

No more moving desks around!!! Love em love em love em!

View Thread
Posted by: kenworthyk

I am the only 1st grade teacher that has tables at my school and I love them. I had asked to use them for a few years, but my principal would rather order new desks (we added two 1st grades to our school) than let me use tables that we already owned and were being stored. We got a new principal this year and I got to use tables. Yeah!

Anyway, I have some storage solutions that I have discovered. I use cups, the kind that restaraunts give to children to hold 24 crayons and a pink eraser. Then the kids put their pencil through the straw hole. Applebees and Chillis have both donated these to me. I have a basket of sharp pencils and pencils that need sharpened out for kids to exchange pencils anytime they need. The cups with lids are also easy for the kids to take around the room when they are working away from their tables.

I also have a "pocket chart" tupe thing that hangs on the wall. (i got it free from highlights) Each pocket is labelled with a child's name. The kids put all their unfinished work in their pocket. I can look up from anywhere in the room and tell if they need to be working on unfinished work.

I do have a cardboard caddy on each table that the kids put their journals, math journals, and writing folders in. I find that the kids stay more organized when they can't just shove things in their desks.

View Thread
Desks for me
Posted by: TwoMonkeys

I seem to be the odd one out here but I love desks. I can put them however I want them, the kids talk and play less and pay attention to me more, and their books and supplies are with them in their desks and quickly and easily accessable. I like being able to isolate those that need to be as well. They do get moved around and out of line but if it really starts to bother me, we'll do a quick straighten up to ease my mind. :)

I also have the "desk fairy" visit every once in awhile and leave a small treat in the neat desks (my 5th grade daughter loves doing this) and the kids always try to keep their desks neat incase the fairy visits. I'll have her leave a small piece of candy, sticker, pencil top eraser, whatever I have on hand at the moment. I only have one or two kids who are just unable to keep their desks neat.

View Thread
Posted by: liketeaching1

Beautiful tables! Wow!!

If I had tables like that, I wouldn't mind!

I have desks and like the way that I can rearrange them to fit our needs. At times we can be in groups of 2, 3, 4, or 5. I can also arrange them in rows, pulled apart for state testing, etc. I guess I'm the odd person here!

View Thread
Posted by: MsPropel

I've used tables for three years in K, 1, and 2. I've really struggled with storage. I've had them stack everything in the middle of the table but that was a nightmare when it would topple over. Our school did a trial of the Seat Sacks that you can buy. They did it for a fourth grade class, they were destroyed by January. Someone made them for my Kindergarten class but made them incorrectly so they didn't stay on the chairs (even when they were empty). I had to tape them onto the chairs with packing tape, which worked until the kids picked at the tape. I felt like all I did was tape seat sacks. That too, was a nightmare. This year, I found under the shelf baskets at Wal-Mart. These worked well for a while, but the kids would knock them off with their knees. This was less of a mess because their crayons and things weren't in there, but after a while the wire became weak and would break. I held onto them even though they broke and talked to my principal about having the custodian mount them under the table. I'm going to have him do this before the kids come back. The only down side is that they have to go on the short sides of the tables so you can only have the kids sitting across from each other on the long sides of the table. I had the two kids sitting across from each other share one.

As far as their supplies, I've always given each child a cup where they kept their crayons and pencils and their cups were in a basket in the middle of the table. As I mentioned earlier, this is where the mess would come in if it got knocked over. I'm going to collect all of the crayons, markers, and colored pencils this year and put them in pencil boxes and put them on a shelf. That way, they kids can go get them when they need them as I found we didn't use them often enough to always have them at their table. There will be one box of each supply per two students. I'm going to put a long, skinny basket (the ones for writing instruments in desk drawers) in the middle of their table to keep pencils in and that is all that will be on their tables this year.

I hope this makes sense! Let me know if you don't understand. Here is a picture of the under the shelf baskets. Remember, I got them at Wal-Mart for $1.97.

View Thread
Desks for me
Posted by: liketeaching1

I prefer desks because they can be arranged in a multitude of configurations. They can be grouped in different numbers of students per group, students can be all facing one direction, etc. I move my desks frequently--sometimes in a large U shape so that we are all a big "group", sometimes with a partner, etc.

I use Really Good Stuff desk trays for their desks (they put their books, folders in there and a plastic shoe box for school supplies). It helps keep their desks neater than if everything is shoved inside.

View Thread
I loved having tables
Posted by: Mudge

I have been in the same situation- small room with large numbers.

2 years ago, I had 4 rectangular tables for the kids. I could fit 8 around the tables for whole group work, but I needed extra tables around the room for extra space for bigger projects. Lets see, I put baskets in the middle for community supplies. I had baskets for each work folder: word wall words, chunk folder, and poetry binders. These baskets I kept around teh room in various spots.

Each child kept their communication log in their mailboxes, and that is where they stored their take home folders too, and any mail to take home.

Each child had their own reading bag with response journal. I asked for plastic bins this year from really good stuff to replace bags.

This year after much thought and consideration I siwtched to desks. I switched rooms, and they got rid of my rectangular tables. Plus the 28 students I had were really big for first grade, and they were too cramped. They gave me these small trapazoid tables. Which are great for small group work, but not great for projects, and quiet reading times.

So now I have desks again- YUCK.

Anyway, my vote is for TABLES!

I couldn't give away my desk (principal wouldn't allow). BUT I would if I could. So I shoved it in the corner, and put my bookshelf in front of it, and that gave me more space.

With tables it is easier for clean-up. Each child had a sepreate area they were in charge of, and at the end of teh day we had "Room Rescue".

View Thread
No title
Posted by: JKB

Hi there! I've been teaching 3rd grade for 13 years and I have tried desks, tables, and a combination of both. Personally, I prefer desks. Besides the fact that the children have their own clearly defined space, I like the versatility of being able to configure them into pairs, trios, quads, etc. and get the same effect as a table through groups. I teach in an odd shaped room-pentagon shaped, so I have to be creative as to how I arrange my furniture in the first place. I understand how organization can be a problem-especially with assignments, etc. One thing that I use to help my children keep organized is by providing each student with a clipboard. I give my children numbers and their clipboards are numbered, too. As I pass out a written assignment, the children place them on their clipboards, until it is completed. When finished, they turn them into the assignment trays. If they run out of time, they keep it on the clipboard until they have extra time to finish it. At the end of the day, any incomplete assignments are removed from the clipboards and packed up for homework. Also, the children keep their clipboards on their desk all day long. This way, if I see that somebody has completed one assignment, but has something they need to finish, I can easily see it and tell them to use their time wisely and finish whatever is on the clipboard. Hope this is helpful!

View Thread
Posted by: sfeller

I had the same question since I'm moving from desks to tables this year. I read a ton of the archived posts on this topic, and the people who replied overwhelmingly favored tables over desks. I recently observed a 6th grade classroom that used tables and it worked really well. She had students keep all of their textbooks, etc. in a basket underneath their chairs. This cut back on transition time and messes. She also had the round tables marked into four sections with tape to help with personal space issues, but said this is the first year she's needed the tape. I'm planning on trying something similar this year with my fifth graders.

View Thread
Chose desks
Posted by: kathyemery

Last year, I inherited tables, but in August we open at our new site and 4 out of the 6 1st grade teachers changed to double desks. I do a lot of modeling, etc. using my LCD projector in the front of the classroom and with tables I always felt that someone had their back to me. I also use a lot of flexible grouping throughout the day and with desks it is much easier to quickly re-arrange the room to accomodate what we are doing. Finally, my partner teacher and I (we share a work-room) went into the 2nd grade classrooms, where they use desks, and measured and found that in our room configuration there is more usable space with desks than with tables. We went with doubles because there is less movement than with singles. I was worried about the hands in the desks etc., but after observing my classes' behavior in their Spanish class over the past year (they have desks in that class with supplies inside) learn through the teaching of procedures where their hands should be, how to take out items, etc. , I believe that this can be managable. This is just my thought process as I worked out the question. Hope this helps. Your going to love 1st grade!!!

View Thread
No title
Posted by: vateacher

I have tables and I love them. I can group as many or as few students as I want at each spot. I can easily wipe down surfaces and don't have to worry about germs inside desks. The children can't stow any dirty tissues or anything else because there's no where to stow it. I can also control supplies easily because my first graders will play with anything and everything... it's just too tempting! So I have team captains that go to the bookshelf for supplies for each activity we do and put them back when we're done.

I train my children to turn their chairs in the appropriate direction for the overhead, chalkbard or centers. We call it Learning position. I'll say "learning position!" and they turn their chairs and say "5...4...3..2..1!" and get themselves with their chairs turned front, both feet on the floor, hands in laps. It works well. Learning position is towards the front of the room where the chalkboard and overhead screen. I change it to " centers learning position" when I want them to turn towards the cubbies so that I can explain centers for the week.

View Thread
Desks or Tables
Posted by: Neena

My first two years I had tables. I did not like tables because I had to store all of their items in tubs or wherever. I truly prefer desks--you just have to practice the rules and procedures at the beginning of the year. We practice with an empty desk from day one... They have a classwork folder to put loose papers in to complete and take home at the end of the day. Also, I teach organization from day one. It takes practice but after a week or two--They know what is expected and do accordingly.

View Thread
Not Sure
Posted by: Kendra

I had tables this year and I hated them. They were half haxagon shapes and were very odd to arrange in a workable manner. I hope to have new desks next year but we will see. I think tables would work much better if they were actually rectangles or something more common. I also did not like my tables because I had no place for the students to put their things away, I don't have real cubbies, just makeshift ones on a larger sized bookshelf. So right now desks are looking better to me. Just my thoughts.

View Thread
Desks Are For Me!
Posted by: pamnpr

I've taught grades 1 & 2 for the past 9 nine years. This year was the first time I had desks in my room and it was Wonderful! Like Neena mentioned in the previous post the students need to have the practice as to what is expected when using a desk. Each day it was the students responsbility to make sure everything was up off the floor. On Fridays just before school ended the students had to clean out their desk, put their books and folders in the order I expected. Then they would wash and dry off their desks. They did a great job! I would go quickly by and look at each desk and we would leave our class nice and organized to come back to from the weekend. I love the desks because you can change your room around easily. If there is a student(s) that needs to be moved away from the general population for whatever reason this is easy to do. For any student that continued to play inside their desk I would just turn it around for the day(s) needed to get their attention. I believe if children have been modeled to, know what your expectations are, and that you follow through they will do their best. Of course kids are kids and nothing is perfect. My students always love to help our room look nice and they have great ideas how the desks could be arranged. "SMILE"

View Thread