Planning for Choice Time

I’ve had some recent requests for me to share my Choice Time planning templates so I decided to post them here on my blog.
This is one that I wrote after a school director requested a “Choice Time rubric.” I was actually rather appalled by the idea of creating a rubric to rate children and/or teachers in relationship to Choice Time. I’m more interested in teachers and children becoming more reflective about their play, explorations and discoveries.

However, after a lot of thought, this is what I did come up with:

If you are planning to add a new center to Choice Time, this template may help to structure your planning. When you’re planning a center, be sure to have unstructured materials so that it is the children who are imposing their ideas on what will be happening at the center. Think of your job as structuring the center for unstructured investigations.

You can also add to this any way that you might add materials to the center to  enhance the inquiry work that you are doing in Social Studies, Science or Math.

This is a very easy way to observe children at centers, reflect on the observations and then, based on observations and reflections, plan instructional “next steps.” The only work during Choice Time is to spend a few minutes observing children at centers. Then put aside the observation sheet and return to it when you are not working with the children. Here’s a blank template and then one where the teacher made observations as children worked in the block center. What would you make of what was happening in the center? What might your next step be? Would you do a minilesson to address something that happened at the center? Add or take away materials?

Are any of these templates helpful? I would love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “Planning for Choice Time

  1. Courtney

    These are SO helpful! I teach kindergarten and every year it gets less and less likely that we will be able to have choice time in our daily schedule (it is already reduced to only thirty minutes a day, and that’s not even officially on the schedule – but we come up with creative ways to incorporate it). So having these templates for both rationale and planning purposes are so helpful. Thank you!!

    1. Renee Post author

      Thank you Courtney. Perhaps you can ask your principal if you can have a professional bookstudy on your grade of my book on Choice Time. Invite the principal to join the group. Maybe that would help explain your rationale for Choice Time. I know a doctor who runs a pediatric psychiatric clinic in Worcester, Ma and he told me that they have a new diagnosis – “play deprived” – for children with acting out issues!

  2. Mary Price

    Hi Renee!

    I purchased your book and have implemented a kind of choice time through our Expeditionary Learning curriculum. I have absolutely LOVED it and so have the kids but I would love more guidance in using observations of play to support kids own inquiry/learning. I live in Denver, do you ever do workshops out here?

    1. Renee Post author

      Hi Mary. How wonderful that you’re doing this important work in your classroom. I haven’t done any workshops in Denver. I’ve actually never been there but I’d certainly love to.
      I’ll make a note of posting a blog entry soon about how observations are used during choice time and a template that will help with recording observations.
      All my best,


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