Some students don't like choice time

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by meglucy, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. meglucy

    meglucy Companion

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    Mar 21, 2013

    A couple months ago, I added some "choice time" (free time) into my first graders' schedule. Four days a week, we get to choose a station, such as building blocks, art, puzzles, puppets, etc.
    Every day, we start with 10 dots on a 10-frame. Each dot equals one minute of choice time. We can earn up to 20 dots for good behavior. We can also lose dots.
    Usually, we end up with about 13 minutes of choice time in the afternoon, right after snack.
    The last few days, I've had to talk with the class after choice time about the noise level and leaving messes behind. I accept that it's going to be noisier than normal, but I tell them we can't talk in a "recess"-type voice.
    Today, I praised them for the good things I saw but also pointed out some messes that were left behind after choice time. I truly don't think I was nagging, but maybe they saw it that way. One student raised her hand and said, "I don't even like choice time." She said she likes what we do during our work times better.
    I asked if anyone else agreed, and about 8 out of 24 kids did.
    Hmm ... So I'm wondering ... Should I continue with choice time? Should I do it less often? Should I change it to something else?
    I believe in giving young children time to have open-ended play. But maybe there's a better way?
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Mar 21, 2013

    Just today I had students "Awww man!" when I said we would not be doing our lesson but something fun instead. (Schedule issue...had to postpone lesson.) I thought they'd be thrilled, but apparently they working and learning. Super cool, but surprising.

    Maybe it could become a once a week thing?

    But, really, I agree...kids need time to play. Important skills are learned during pay.
     
  4. meglucy

    meglucy Companion

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    Mar 21, 2013

    Right! At one point, a student said, "We don't really learn anything when we play." And I said, "Actually, you learn A LOT when you play."
    Maybe 4 times a week is overkill, though.
     
  5. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Mar 21, 2013

    I do choice time at least once a week for about 30 minutes or more if possible. I have found that if it is less than 20 minutes I end up with first graders upset or in tears. I think it is because they find it frustrating. The amount of time is too short for them to really get into the social aspects and to finish the projects they have started.

    If it is regularly under twenty I think certain children would not even try. Our last recess is ten minutes and every year I have a whole group of kids who do not want to participate because it is too short and they cannot get started in whatever they are doing until around the time the bell rings.

    I used to be more finicky about them sticking with their choices and having limited choices. I now pretty much let them do anything they want that will not disturb others or hurt anyone. I have found it to be a very helpful social skill building tool.
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Mar 22, 2013

    Maybe give them more choices? Like maybe they could read a book if they want?
     
  7. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Mar 22, 2013

    I would also give more choices. In first grade I used to love reading in class during free time when the other kids were playing with blocks (I thought that was for babies). Could you also have some fun worksheets they could choose? They would see it more as "work" like.
     
  8. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Mar 22, 2013

    My Kinders love choice time. We have about 20 minutes every day. Sometimes more. I have a whole bunch of activities that they can choose from. The activities range from 1-4 players (some students want to work/play alone).

    We made an anchor chart with the special rules for this time that include voice level, making choices, cleaning up. It's very powerful. Instead of talking to the kids about the choices they made, I have them each rate themselves based on our anchor chart.
     
  9. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    Mar 22, 2013

    Free play can be intimidating to kids that have some trouble socializing. Like me. I always had a best friend and then one or two good friends in my class b/c I was quiet. I remember once BFF was absent and one of my good friends was mad at me and the other went to the nurse so I was watching the clock DREADING recess b/c I would have to step out my comfort zone and intiate play w/new kids who might not like me. I would have foregone free time if given the chance on that day.
     
  10. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Mar 22, 2013

    Dislike can also come about depending on how the choice time is implemented. As Em pointed out about socializing, student personalities can make choice time not so much of a choice. If only so many students are able to be involved in certain activities, the ones that get their choice all the time or get their first choice all the time are the socially aggressive kids - the ones that will push their way to the front of the line. It kind of reminds me of the 5'8" middle school girl who always got the shortest field hockey stick because she didn't want to be in the push and grab mosh pit around the stick bin.

    Another reason can be that many of the activities available are things that the kids already have at home. That is common in my area because the majority of parents already provide similar opportunities for their children.

    I suggest you individually ask them what they don't like about choice time. You may find it is a variety of different reasons.

    Maybe a choice activity for some could be independent learning activities. I know when I was a kid I would much rather read a book, do a maze, do a word search, or just about anything to avoid the group dynamics of some of the kids in the class. I just didn't need that much group time. In fact, it was uncomfortable because some of the kids would just never change. There was no "working" with them. So, why bother. Think about those kids without direct interaction from the adults they will never temper their behaviors for group work.
     
  11. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Mar 22, 2013

    "I know when I was a kid I would much rather read a book, do a maze, do a word search, or just about anything to avoid the group dynamics of some of the kids in the class. I just didn't need that much group time. In fact, it was uncomfortable because some of the kids would just never change. There was no "working" with them. So, why bother. Think about those kids without direct interaction from the adults they will never temper their behaviors for group work."
    Funny thing...I was reading this and thinking about some of my coworkers. I feel the same way about "free time" with them. Some things don't change...
     
  12. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 22, 2013

    I agree with others with similar comments - probably about the choices offered, how they're presented, etc. One idea would be to offer certain choices for a month, then rotate them out and put other choices in. Novelty is an important component, and as others mentioned so is socialization.
     
  13. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I took a sand table and filled it with Legos. That is the most popular thing in my room. I have over $700 worth of Legos in that table and it is big enough for five to be around it. I have boys' and girls' (pink) Legos. My kids beg for free time to play in it.
     
  14. mkbren88

    mkbren88 Cohort

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    Mar 22, 2013

    My students love free time. 2/3 of my class spends the whole free time rainbow writing or drawing pictures. The rest enjoy puzzles, blocks or reading books. I only give free time on Friday's and they have to earn it. If they don't earn at least 15 minutes, then it isn't worth it. I don't always give the same options, and I will sometimes ask for their input on what they would like to do.
     
  15. msufan

    msufan Comrade

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    Mar 22, 2013

    Why not have a work-like option for that time?

    "OK kids, it's time for the 13 minutes of free time you've earned. Or, if you prefer, you can also do such-and-such work activity instead."
     
  16. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Mar 22, 2013

    I like that option. Or have some of the options be "write, read, etc." Some students might love having the ability to write whatever they want, or even just sit and read. Lately I've had a boy come in several times this week during recess so he can work. He chose to do that. I only offer fun-time Friday, or whatever the last day of the week ends up being. For myself, I couldn't do it daily.
     
  17. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Mar 23, 2013

    When I give choice time they have free choice to do ANYTHING safe in the room. Some choose to keep working, others pull out toys, blocks, books, white boards, puzzles, games, etc. etc. etc. I also keep a bin of empty boxes and masking tape - that one is a HIT. 13 minutes is too short. If I do less than 20 they get frusterated because it wasn't long enough - just as they get started it's time to clean up.

    To help with clean up I do "mystery garbage" game. I choose 1 item on the floor as the mystery item. The child who picks it up during their cleaning gets a prize. That motivates them!!
     

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