Free Choice Center

One of my favorite things about my new art room is the FREE CHOICE CENTER.  Many followers may recall my post I'm Finished, Now What!? That was the center at my last school. I have revamped this year with more ideas and choices. Thanks to Jessica at The Art of Education I decided to explain how I do "free choice".

I have these wonderful cubbies in my room that stretch along the whole wall.  So to distinguish where the actual free choice activities are, I taped off the area with yellow duct tape.  I also put a big sign on top.  Students are instructed to choose materials from above or inside the yellow area. 
When do I use free choice?
 - When a student finishes a project and there is still class time. - Sometimes as an activity with a sub. 
- When majority of the class is not present due to a school program during their art time. 

Must have teacher permission
Choose one activity at a time
Work at your seat
Put things away neatly
Only get 1 piece of free draw paper during your free choice time
Crayons, pencils, dry erase markers, and chalk only!

- Drawing books: kept in a green crate. I usually order drawing books, cut the pages out, put them into protective sleeves, and place them by category into plastic folders.

- Reading books: kept in a pink crate

- Free draw paper: copy paper

- Free drawing: students may get a drawing book and one piece of free draw paper to draw on the front and back. They can take it home with them that day or they may keep it in their table's folder to finish on another day.
I'm so proud of their ability to follow drawing directions! Both these photos were first graders.
- Dry erase papers: During the summer I put copy paper into page protectors and put duct tape at the top. Students get one dry erase paper, marker, and a SOCK to erase with. Used CLEAN socks are great for this. Plus, the kids think it's pretty cool too.
- Texture plates: I don't really understand the fascination with these, but okay. I encourage them to use the whole paper, draw a picture then color in the different areas with the textures, and make up animals to create the textures on.

-TANGOES: These are excellent. They are magnetic tangram pieces with booklets to show the kids how to construct the pictures. I also encourage then to make up their own pictures. I only have three of these and they are one of the first things chosen off the shelf. I purchased my set from Target.

Modeling Clay: I have tons of modeling clay that was just sitting in a box left from the last teacher. Never used. I had two kinds. One works better then the other. I had lots of colors so I put them into ziplock baggies. Students are instructed not to mix colors, not to make "bad" things, and to seal the bag closed when they are done. I told the students that if I noticed missing clay they would not have it as a choice anymore. So far no stealing... that I've noticed...
Love this little snail family.

I like this modeling clay the best because it doesn't stain your hands. I've used the clay since August and it shows no sign of drying out.
The other kind are typically in rectangular blocks and are not sectioned like these. They usually stain your hands. Thus, I don't use them.

Chalk Boards: I have a shelf of small and large chalk boards (see first picture of this post), white chalk, and sock erasers. I personally can't stand chalk boards, but my students love them.

My free draw self will change throughout the year depending on what deals I see in stores. I have also had puzzles, blocks, and legos. After Christmas break I'm going to add complete the picture sheets in page protectors so they may use dry erase markers.
I hope this helps with your Free Choice ideas.
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