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?