Tag: Classroom Furniture

Bretford- Oldest Furniture Contest

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Fans of our Facebook page know that we appreciate the longevity that our school furniture selection offers our customers.  Furniture that was built to last, does just that.  Bretford is now giving away an incredible prize to those who have held onto those classic school furniture pieces of days gone by.  They are asking for video submissions highlighting their old Bretford furniture products that are still in use.  This should be easy, as it’s hard to walk into any school and not see a TV or projector perched on top of a Bretford cart.  Bretford TV Cart

For the last 60-plus years, Bretford has been making tables, carts, shelving and other furniture products for K-12 and higher education environments. Many of Bretford’s earliest models are still being used.  Bretford’s “Oldest Product” video contest is open to all educators, business professionals and facilities managers that either use or select furniture products in a school or training facility. Entrants must provide proof of employment.  Entrants may submit their “Oldest Product” videos between June 7, 2010 and July 31, 2010. The grand prize winner will be selected on August 16, 2010.

So what’s the prize? You guessed it, more Bretford classroom furniture!  A whole room’s worth to be exact.  One facility will receive a full room of Bretford furniture to accommodate 30 students/professionals, just in time for the 2010/2011 school year. The grand prize package will consist of:

For a full list of contest rules and submission details, please visit http://sandbox.bretford.com/contests/contest.php.   Good Luck!

The History of One-Room Schools

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One-room schools were commonplace throughout rural portions of various countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In most rural (country) and small town schools, all of the students met in a single room. There, a single teacher taught academic basics to five to eight grade levels of elementary-age boys and girls.

The quality of facilities at one-room schools varied with local economic conditions, but generally, the number of children at each grade level would vary with local populations. Most buildings were of simple frame construction, some with the school bell on a cupola. In Midwestern states, sod construction was also used, as well as stone in areas such as portions of the southwest where trees were scarce. In some locations, the schoolhouse was painted red, but most seem to have been white.

The blackboard really is a black board, made of wide boards painted black. It was not until much later that slate was used for chalkboards, although students often had individual slates for writing practice.

(continue reading…)

Classroom Furniture Color Theory

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When purchasing furniture to be used in schools and other educational settings, color can be an important factor to consider according to this recent article by Amee Meghani from Smith System.
Colorful Furnishings A Catalyst for School Success
By Amee Meghani
Product Engineer
While often ignored in the classroom, color remains an important element
to consider. Studies indicate that it plays a role in emotion, productivity,
communication and learning. According to Ohio-based interior
designer, Elizabeth Stout, color in school room design is rarely a
“Furniture is usually chosen based on functionality,
ergonomics and durability,” Stout said. “Schools generally never choose
light colored furniture because it makes dirt easy to spot. Additionally, in some
elementary schools, chair color is dictated by size.”
Looking at the effects of color on emotion and relating that to the
purpose of the learning space can help guide the color choices – on walls, on
floors and even on furniture.
Because classrooms are used primarily for active learning, color in
this environment should maximize information retention and stimulate
participation. For that reason, it’s crucial to avoid over stimulation so avoid
large amounts of bright colors, especially reds and oranges. Rather, opt for
calming and neutral colors such as green and blue.
Furniture can liven up otherwise dull classrooms by supplying color. The
relatively small amount of color on furniture does not have the same
affect as bright colors on walls. So, select yellow furniture to elicit feelings
of liveliness, energy, happiness and excitement. Red and orange in small
quantities can also demand attention and attract learners’ attention to detail –
a great way to lead students to a certain part of the room for an engaging activity.
If the intent is to match all elements of the room, use furniture colors that are
similar to wall colors focusing on the calming greens and blues.
The one exception to color in the classroom occurs with younger children,
who unlike older children, thrive in a bright-colored environment. Bright
colors can be used on the walls and in the furniture. Color can also be used to
help children understand how certain areas of a room are used. For example,
the blue chairs in the corner may be used as a reading and relaxation area,
while the red table may be a free-play space.


Color in a library setting should be used to align emotions and behaviors
with the purpose of the space. Since different areas of a library are intended
for different activities, have fun experimenting with color. Take a reading
area, for example. As an extension of the learning environment, reading areas
are intended to be calming and relaxing allowing learners to reflect.
In this instance, matching calming wall colors – like greens and blues – with
furniture colors maximizes the effects of color in this space.
In contrast, if an area is used for lounging and conversing, color can
provide excitement. Consider using a more neutral wall color and
experimenting with furniture color by using bright-colored cushions, fixed
colors on lounging chairs or vibrant accents on tables or shelving. Color
selections might include deep reds, oranges and yellows, or pastels in any
color combination.
In libraries and classrooms, it is clear that color can have an effect on mood,
emotion, and productivity, which ultimately influences student success.
Consider letting the purpose of the room guide the color scheme selection.
All of Smith System’s inspired colors are available online for purchase on many products; from book trucks and study carrels to computer tables and activity tables.

Healthful Schools: A Vintage Guide from 1918

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A digital version of Healthful Schools by May Ayres Burgess, Jesse Feiring Williams and Thomas Denison Wood is now available online for vintage look at how to build, furnish and maintain schools. While many things have changed since it was originally published in 1918, there are several truths that have stood the test of time and are still important in terms of school furniture.
“Ever since before the days of Horace Mann we have been experimenting with school room desks and chairs.” While few students today have heard of Horace Mann the great education reformer, the statement couldn’t hold more truth. Classroom desks evolve and are improved upon every year as factors such as technology and size become more present. “Children are expected to spend most of their time sitting still… it is necessary to provide chairs and desks which will be comfortable.” Modern school furniture manufacturers understand this and have been able to create contoured student chair seats with the use of plastics, which was largely unused during the early 20th century.
Here are some excerpts in regards to school furniture selection that are still true:

Adjustment. Desks and chairs should be adjusted to the height of the child. This may be done either by supplying several different sizes for each room, or by making any individual piece of furniture so that it can be adjusted to the needs of the person using it. In buying furniture it is well to make sure that the adjustments can be made swiftly and easily.

Feet and floor, Seats should be low enough so that the pupil’s feet rest squarely on the floor; otherwise the blood vessels in the under part of the thigh become constricted and retard circulation.

Shape of seat. Seats should be slightly hollowed out to fit the natural curve of the body, instead of being flat like a settee. The width of the seat from back to front should be that which affords sufficient support for the body, but at the same time brings the back of the body against the back of the chair.

Here are some excerpts that are not necessarily true for modern classroom furnishings:

Should be single. That is, each desk or chair should be intended for one person only. Double seating usually means lack of adjustment to the individual child and interference of one child with his fellow.


There are many classrooms that now incorporate cooperative learning strategies, so student desks that provide group interaction or can easily be grouped together are commonly preferred to those old stand alone desks. While slanted desktops are a more ergonomic choice, must classroom desks of today must have a flat top to safely accomodate laptops. Classrooms of the past taught many or all subjects in one room, requiring a desk that was multipurpose. Now with schools providing differenct rooms and environments for different subjects, classroom desks can be specific to the task at hand. Some specific desks are open front desks, lift lid desks, junior executive desks, combo desks, two student desks, collaborative desks, ADA compliant desks and of course, teacher’s desks.
This book is great source for historic information about American schools of the early 20th century. The details included offer visions of what our grandparents or even great-grandparents might have experiences during their time behind a school desk. While these facts are great for nostalgia, there are many sources available today for modern school furniture facts.






Desk-top slant. The top of the desk should slant in order that books and papers may be held at as near a right angle with the line of vision as possible.




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