Classroom Design - collaborative learning - NextGen Spaces - Learning Spaces - Classroom Furniture

Choosing the Right Activity Table

Written by Alicia Springer, M.Ed.

Shape Tables are designed to move with the daily - or hourly - changes in a learning environment, supporting individual study, group projects, and a full-class discussion. There are many different activity table shapes. Read below to see how to choose the best activity shape table for your teaching and learning needs.

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five tips for selecting the right table shape:


  • Measure the space and plan the classroom flow.
  • Determine how the table(s) will be used. Will it double as a teacher workstation? Do you need the ability to nest with individual student desks?
  • Think about how the tables will help facilitate learning. Do you need tables that promote conversation and collaboration or ones that support individual work?
  • Consider how many tables you need. Some shapes are standalone while others have the ability to configure.
  • Use both tables and student desks. There are many individual student desks that can configure for group work and can be pulled apart for individual work or testing.



tables + desks that encourage collaboration

The revolutionary learning space that promotes motivation and student well-being. Worksurfaces (NXT MOV Shape Tables + Student Desks) provide limitless flexibility for students to create their optimal learning space. Spaces that mimic home or relaxed environments like cafes, will reduce anxiety and stress when students are collaborating.


  • Allows for endless possibilities of configurations and grouping of students
  • Gives students ownership
  • Encourages movement + increases interactions


  • Becomes cluttered if the layout is not well thought out




tables that define personal space

Beta desks, 4P, Nova, Puddle, and 3P-120 Shape Tables are great solutions for early grades, special needs classrooms or classrooms that need to delineate personal space and teach self-regulation. The belly scoop gives students physical and visual cues on “their” space.


  • Provides ample room for a teacher to guide students through focused instruction
  • Defined workspaces, making them a good choice for younger students
  • Easily configure beta desks into pods for various collaborative learning activities or pull apart for individual assessments, writing practice, or skills practice


  • Large shape tables may not be as easy for younger students to move, therefore, they tend to be stationary

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tables that maximize space

Rectangle and Expanse Shape Tables are designed for efficiency. Larger rectangular shape tables allow more room for additional seats, which means that you will not need as many tables for your classroom if space is a concern.


  • Maximizes use of floor space
  • Easy access


  • Predictable, uninspiring, linear spaces
  • Does not promote interaction 

20180803_Saguaro_Elem_Casa_Grande_Middle_27_1-2Casa Grande Elementary, Photo by CDP Photography



tables for technology

Devices are smaller, wireless, and lighter than they once were so, they can move anywhere the student's do making any work surface conducive for technology. If you're looking for something more traditional, this Media Table is great for collaboration and provides ample work space. Consider using standing height skinny Rectangle Tables to create a genius bar if you wish to incorporate rich, real world experience to your technology curriculum. Trapezoid Shape Desks are also a great solution for media tables in the classroom or technology labs. Lining them up along the wall provides seclusion for individual heads down work and testing.


  • Smaller, wireless devices allow for more flexible, reconfigurable work surfaces
  • Stimulate creativity with STEM and STEAM areas
  • Quiet areas for independent reflection
  • Social areas for small and large group learning activities


  • Only mobile if technology is wireless

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Color Inspiration2





pro tip:


  • Reduce the footprint and save space by allowing large shape tables to double as a teacher work surface and teaching station.
  • Use a mix of tables + individual desks. A combination of Wanderer Shape Student Desks and large Shape Tables allows for endless possibilities of configurations and grouping of students and teacher.

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rethinking learning environments for the future workbook download


  1. Casa Grande Elementary, Photo by CDP Photography

Sep 13, 2022

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