Literacy PK-3

Systems Change

Free Choice


Free choice supports learner interests and allows more complex social interactions to develop. Scheduling at least 30 minutes of free choice or collaborative play time allows learners to have the opportunity to engage in activities that make learning feel meaningful and supports the development of a broad array of cognitive and social and emotional skills.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how preschoolers play and listen to them explain their perspectives on free play. By allowing learners to have agency in how they play, they participate in authentic social interactions and develop their Motivation for exploration.

  • Having free choice as part of centers is one way to encourage exploration and choice. Teachers can provide different materials that encourage free play, such as clay, sand, or art materials. Recess is another way for students to have unstructured time to explore their interests and develop Social Awareness & Relationships Skills by trying out ways to communicate, negotiate conflict, and solve problems.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    With 38 games and counting, Toca Boca empowers students to play for the sake of play. By engaging in free play through open-ended interactions, student Motivation can increase, and students can practice their Emotion and Self-regulation skills.

  • By intentionally selecting objects or materials with open-ended interaction capabilities, developers and teachers can indirectly promote free choice, play, and exploration.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy