Your Ultimate Guide to Free Choice in the Art Room

free choice

When I was first introduced to the idea of a free choice area, I was a bit skeptical. At first, it seemed like a waste of valuable class time. But the truth is, sometimes you just have that kid who is REALLY fast at creating art. And, of course, that kid just happens to be in the same class as your student who works at a glacial pace.

As time passed, I naturally started to lean towards the idea of creating a free choice area in my art room. The only catch was that everything in the area had to be engaging and art-related. Here at The Art of Education, we have a bunch of ideas for how you might run a free choice area as well as ideas for what to include in it. Read on to find some fresh new ideas for free choice activities and to explore all of the great resources we’ve published.

Fresh Free Choice Ideas


Go Fish for Impressionist Artists

free choice go fish

Anyone else’s students love card games like mine? This card game has been a big hit with students. Plus, I love that they are being exposed to impressionist artists and artwork. (Purchase Here)


Mosaic MagnaPattern


Free Choice Mosaic

This free choice purchase has been a huge hit with my students. The students work together or individually to create colorful patterns out of small mosaic pieces. It’s all magnetized, so the pieces stay put as students are creating. (Purchase Here)


Origami Station

free choice origami

Fill a tub with white and patterned paper that is perfect for origami. Provide books or let students use their iPads to search for different origami designs they can create.



free choice zentangles

Zentangles have become a common word in my classroom. Parents might be confused by it, but my students have come to love these complex patterns. Provide your students with zentangle books or iPads  to research different patterns and let them go crazy with zentangling. (Purchase Here)




free choice Fractiles

Sometimes my students use the magnetic board included with the set to create Fractiles. Occasionally, several students want to play, so I send them up to the whiteboard to work on a larger space. This game is a hit with all grade levels. (Purchase Here)


Additional Free Choice Ideas


Do you find yourself wanting even more free choice options? Check out some of our past articles and videos that will help grow the options you offer in your own free choice area.

3 Must-Have Drawing Activities for your Free Choice Center by Alecia Eggers

The 3 Things I Can’t Live Without at My Free Choice Station by Amanda Heyn

7 Essential Centers For Your Art Room by Jennifer Borel

Pick and Draw: A Good Investment For Your Art Room? by Amanda Heyn


Setting Up A Free Choice Area


Do you have some questions about what it takes to set up a free choice area? Are you wanting some advice for how it should look or how you can help students utilize the area properly? Then check out this video by Amanda Heyn for 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Setting Up a Free Choice Area.


Are you pro-free choice or against the idea? Tell us your stance!

What free choice ideas do you have that we missed? Sound off in the comments!


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.


Jennifer Borel

Jennifer Borel is one of AOEU’s Adjunct Instructors and Academic Advisors and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She runs her own photography business and is passionate about students exploring the medium.

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