Rocks vs. Sucks: Free Choice

Welcome to the last Rocks vs. Sucks installment for July. We’ve had some great conversation about art ed’s trickiest topics. If you’re just joining us, make sure to go back and tell us what you think about Follow-the-Teacher Lessons, Gridding and Taking Work Home.

As we tackle Free Choice today, please remember to keep your comments respectful. The goal is to disagree with ideas, not people!

Rocks vs. Sucks #4: Free Choice

Rocks vs Sucks 4
There are countless ways to run free choice in the art room. From a single free-choice center to multiple free choice stations, the options are endless. We all know we have to do something to combat that inevitable question, “I’m done. Now what do I do?” Let’s explore the pros and cons of free choice in the art room.

Let’s Discuss



Free choice ROCKS. Free choice provides students with much needed exploratory time. It’s great to be able to offer students a wide variety of materials and activities beyond the assigned project. It’s so fun to see what students come up with without any teacher direction. Free choice also allows students extra time to practice and discover new skills and collaborate with others. It’s the best! A well thought out free choice system also makes it a breeze to have a guest teacher in your room. Everything is already there!


Free Choice SUCKS. Having a free choice station seems like a good idea, until it comes to logistics. Clean up takes twice as long with so many materials out, which takes away from project time. Not to mention the bickering over who gets to use the LEGOS and who gets to use the smelly markers. Plus, the free choice materials inevitably get ruined beyond use with so many hands using them all day long. And can we talk about the kids that rush through their projects just to get to free time? Maddening! It’s much better for students to have a second project to work on or their own sketchbooks to do an alternative assignment in when they’re finished.


What do you think? Is free choice a logistical nightmare you’d rather not deal with or a chance to allow students more choices int he art room? Let us know in the comments below!




Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Amanda Heyn

Amanda Heyn is AOEU’s Director of K–12 PD & Media and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She enjoys creating relevant and engaging professional development just for art teachers.

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