First Day Seating

It is extremely important that your students have assigned seating on the first day of school. It helps students to feel at ease because they are not left worrying about where they should sit or whether or not anyone will want to sit near them, and it sets the precedent that you are in charge of your classroom. It is easy to let structure go as the year goes on, but it is nearly impossible to put it into place if it has not been there before.

Now, to make it a little easier on yourself and a little more fun for your students, you can try using my method, that doesn’t require me to create seating charts until the students have stopped shifting between courses and my roster is set…you know…second quarter haha!!

I use cards of assorted colors with different fanciful creatures on them to “assign” seats to students on the first day of school. I print two sets of cards: one that I hand out at the door, and one that can be taped to desks. Students are handed a card at the door, and they must sit at the seat that has the identical card taped to it. (For example, if they are handed a pink unicorn, they must sit at the seat with the pink unicorn taped to the desk.)

Since there are only six different creatures, I print them on six different colored pieces of paper so that I have 36 unique cards (enough for all of my students–if I’m lucky!). When I print the sets, I print two of each color so that I have one for the teacher set and one for the desk set. For 36 students, that means making 12 copies of the Character cards for seating (2 copies of each of six colors). The cards are a free download in Spanish and French (thanks to Lisa Brown for translating!), and they are available as pretty PDFs and slightly-messy-but-editable Word and Pages files.  I chose these characters because they are all cognates (except fantasma…I couldn’t think of another fanciful creature that is a cognate–boo!), and they are fun for the students. DOWNLOAD THEM HERE!

After the first day, you can use these cards to form groups for any activity. You can use just one of the sets and ask students to get into color groups or creature groups, or you can use half of each of the sets and ask students to find the other person with their exact match. I laminate my set of cards so that I can re-use it each year and throughout the year.

34 thoughts on “First Day Seating

  1. Maestra Tere says:

    Hello and thank you for this! I am using your idea with two sets of laminated Loteria cards. I am looking forward to the new school year and have a suitcase full of new ideas from the TPRS community posts. 🙂

  2. Tania says:

    Ciao Martina,
    I love this great idea. can you share the card’s template because I have to change language? Thanks for sharing great ideas 🙂


  3. mpeto says:

    Cool! When I first looked at the cards I thought to myself, “cool, but I wonder if my high school age students would feel insulted by something so clearly designed for younger kids”. Then I remembered how last year, after one of our class stories included a princess, no less than five sophmore girls separately came up to me after class and indicated that they were secretly hoping to be chosen as the actress to play the princess. Yes, I’m going to use this even with my AP class.

  4. Kathryn Zetts says:

    Sounds good, thank you for the idea! Just so I am clear–do you collect the cards from the students at the end of class so that you can hand them a (possibly) different card the next day, or do you make your seat chart using however things arrange themselves on the first day? Merci!

  5. Sara says:

    This may be a silly question, but do you give them the English word at the door and then they have to go find the Spanish word on the desk? Or do you do Spanish/Spanish? Thanks for a great idea!

    • Martina Bex says:

      Spanish/Spanish. All of the cards are cognates (even though most wouldn’t recognize ‘fantasma’ as such), and they all contain pictures, so kids can understand.

      • Maureen Cranley says:

        Love the idea! Thank you, Martina! A few more cognates that come to mind are: el elfo-elf, el gigante- giant, el ogro- ogre, and as Ada C. commented on your blog: el vampiro- vampire, el gnomo- gnome, el cíclope-cyclop, and la momia- mummy.

    • Sara Nuckolls says:

      I haven’t done this yet but was thinking to give them the Spanish card and put the blank one on the desks. This would also be beneficial if you teach more than one language.

  6. Kirsten Brors says:

    HI! Just joined. I like the idea, but is there something else besides cognates on can use? I teach Chinese and virtually NOTHING sounds like English. I could use numbers but that is a bit boring. I also thought of colours as something the students already know but again, not all that interesting.

    I am jumping in the deep end as this is the last of four terms for the year and my class is a year ten class with almost 3 years of language study (traditional method up until now).

    • Ryan says:

      If I were taking a Chinese class, I would probably want my teacher to use nouns that would help me in the classroom and on the street (car, money, teacher, pen, etc).

      I also think that the literacy part of it would be super helpful. I feel like there would be so many characters to learn, and getting familiar with a few high-utility words would be useful!

Leave a Reply