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How much free time?
Old 08-20-2010, 09:05 PM
 
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I was just wondering if you do "free time" (choice time, whatever you may call it) in your room? If so, how often and how long? I am moving up to 1st grade this year from a 1/2 day kindergarten last year and was just wondering what everyone does! Thanks in advance!


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play
Old 08-20-2010, 09:09 PM
 
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Last year in first I gave them 30 minutes of free play per day. This year I'm giving them 20 minutes. I strongly believe in free choice play, and 20-30 minutes really isn't enough, but it's all I can fit in! I know that many first grade classrooms only get 20-30 minutes of free play per week.
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choice time
Old 08-20-2010, 09:15 PM
 
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My kids rarely get choice time. There's too much to do and our school day is from 9:00-3:00, but we have a 45 minute lunch and two recesses that add up to 25 minutes. Not enough time for lots of things!
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Old 08-21-2010, 03:22 AM
 
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We have a 15 minute snack break and a 30 minute recess everyday. I have one day a week when the kids do not have a special, so I usually give them "free time" that day for about 30 minutes. It is essentially an extra recess.
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Old 08-21-2010, 03:31 AM
 
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I give my students 40 minutes a week as a 'celebration' on Friday afternoons. I believe in the power of it as well, but I have so much else to do. Everything seems important these days!


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I'm moving to K this year but,
Old 08-21-2010, 06:11 AM
 
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for the past ten years in grade one, I've always planned for 30-40 minutes of free play last thing every day. As the year progresses, the number of times goes down to 2 times a week in the last term. They need a lot of play time in the beginning or I find that school is tedious for them and behaviour problems start to multiply.
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Old 08-21-2010, 06:18 AM
 
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This is really eye-opening for me. I know for a fact that not one of my colleagues (I have 5) do a free time in their first grade classroom. I am really not sure where it would fit in. I do have it a bit the first week or so of school because they just need it...but then it just doesn't work out anymore. I do implement the Daily5 in my room, so they do have some "choice" in their day. They also have a morning and afternoon recess in addition to their 30 minute lunch recess. Wow. This is my "thinker" for the weekend...
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Free time...what's that?
Old 08-21-2010, 06:23 AM
 
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Wow. My schedule is so packed full of "have-tos," that I don't have a free choice time. I'm hoping, though, that implementing Daily 5 reading and math will give them that "choice" that their brains need. But I have trouble fitting in shared reading everyday, and my writing time isn't a full period due to schedule conflicts. So, unfortunately free choice isn't part of my schedule. (But they do get a 40 minute recess each day.)
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No free time
Old 08-21-2010, 07:50 AM
 
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I have been struggling with this for years and have done without. I know kids need to have this time and since one recess was taken away I think I'll do it with snack time so it would be about 20-30 minutes. I usually wean them off this (when I did have it) by the spring. There is a need to have the class bond socially so this is why I plan on trying it again this year. I don't have a schedule yet so we'll see.
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Choice Time
Old 08-21-2010, 08:08 AM
 
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I have a 20-30 minute recess time every day (we choose when we want to have recess since we will be with our students the whole time). If the weather is lousy, then this turns into indoor choice time. Sometimes in the winter when our recess time is cut short, there is no time to put on snowpants, etc., so we just have choice time.


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Old 08-21-2010, 08:25 AM
 
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In the fall, I tend to give my kiddos an extra recess or some free time. Once we are in our routine there is so much to do throughout the day that I don't offer a regular free time where they just play. They do get to make choices through the day with daily five and math workshop so they are able to choose activities/materials that appeal to them yet still practice their reading, writing and math skills. They do get one 20 minute recess that follows their lunch time. During the winter if we have had to many indoor recess due to the cold temperatures the kiddos get cabin fever and I will take them to the gym during an open slot or give them some play time just to help them get the wiggles out.
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Wow...
Old 08-21-2010, 08:53 AM
 
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I didn't even know that free time in first grade existed anymore! Unfortunately, we only have a 6 hour school day, with a daily 40 min. special and 30 min. lunch. So... we're lucky if we have time for a 15 minute recess with our tight schedule (no scheduled recesses in our district). I agree that it's very important for 1st graders, especially at the beginning of the year, and would probably alleviate some behavior issues and "wiggles" during work time. I also think it's great for building social skills, as they are playing more naturally and their social situations aren't so contrived (as in their teacher choosing their partners and groups and seats for them). Alas, maybe in the next 10 years things will change here in Florida!
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:01 AM
 
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I taught first grade last year and had "worktime" about 3 times a week. This is different from the "choice time" I did on Fridays in second grade. I teach in NY and years ago interned at a construvist school in NYC that was really focused on what was developmentally appropriate. Parents die to get their kids into this public school. In their first grades they had worktime everyday - that's where I got the ideas from. Also, Debbie Miller briefly touches on the idea. My school is not quite as progressive to I just pulled off 3x a week. I did what looked like play centers. I always reminded myself that play is a child's work. Some centers might have been - legos, card making, blocks, computers, play dough, felt board storytelling, math manipulatives, painting, games... If you are lucky enough a dramatic play area still works. We focused a lot on picking choices, working as a group to build one thing...AT the end I always had the groups share what they did, what worked well. I also often had a "special group". Instead of doing a big class project I would pull 5 kids each worktime and over 2 weeks get every kid to do the projects. This is how I got some of my SS and Science in too.
You can absolutely turn this time into more than just play. They learned so much from this. I may have skimped a little on my SS and Science lessons but they were actually getting to make their own meaning during these centers.
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:15 AM
 
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thebeach- this sounds a lot like the HighScope model. Is that what kind of school you were at? We implemented HighScope last year in K.
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Free Time?
Old 08-21-2010, 10:42 AM
 
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When I first starting teaching 20 years ago, we had an short afternoon recess and a morning snack. They made us eliminate it so we could have "More time on Learning". We start at 8 am... have a 15 min snack/lav break...a 25 min. lunch and a 25 min recess....and a 40 min. special each day (music, art, gym, library or computers). The rest of the time is strictly academics. We have to make sure everything aligns with the MA state frameworks. I've even had some principals that want the kids to have a "working snack" so we can have MORE time on learning.
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Old 08-21-2010, 11:06 AM
 
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We don't have free time, but the kids get 30 minute recess, 30 minute lunch, and in the beg. of the year we do a 20 minute morning recess, that will fade out as the weather gets cooler. When the weather is bad, the kids stay inside and have free time in the room. We don't have time--if we ever have extra time we play a class game--they love that!
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Free Time
Old 08-21-2010, 04:35 PM
 
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I do not have free time in my schedule. And honestly I don't think it is needed. When we have inside recess and I give my kids free choice of activities they always choose the math center activities - so I consider math centers free time because they enjoy it so much.

I know at my school my P would not go for free time at all. That is what they get to do when they are at home. We are to make every moment a teachable moment.
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Friday Fun Time
Old 08-21-2010, 06:49 PM
 
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The only free choice my 1st graders have is 30 minutes on Fridays which I call "friday fun time"-it is linked to good behavior thru out that week.
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:03 PM
 
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I've taught at 3 schools and each had daily choice time. My second school had a high ELL population and we were required to have at least 30 minutes of choice time daily. Many days this was more like 45 minutes. This helped built not only social skills but important language skills as well. Teachers were expected to walk around and engage students in discussing what they were building, drawing, writing etc and write observations. Our day was pretty short too, 8:00 -2:20 but it was a non-negotiable. During literacy and math meetings we discussed what was going on in choice time like any other academic subject. I also used to pull intervention groups for 10 minutes if I needed to. It's unfortunate that it is seen as an extra buy some administrators especially for the kids who need the most social, vocabulary and language development.
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choice time
Old 08-22-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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I have 15 minutes of choice time at the end of the day if we've completed all of our lessons. Our day is 9:30 - 4:00 and our kids have a 45 minutes recess/lunch period. I think having the end of the day choice time gives the kids motivation to attend to the day's lessons and also provides an easy "logical consequence" for kids who aren't cooperating.

I do a minute for reminders off recess for morning disruptions and a minute for each reminder off choice time for afternoon disruptions. That way students who've been cooperating get all their free time and kids who haven't just lose little bits of their's.
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Old 08-22-2010, 04:59 PM
 
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I am implementing a choice/center time this fall for the first time since moving out of pre-K. I teach in an extended day school, so three days a week my kids are with us from 8:45 to 5:00 (and many are in school from 8-6 with afterschool, breakfast, and an optional chapel.) They get 2 specials most days and a 30 minute lunch, but one of their specials is structured arts lessons and the other is large motor focused "gym", so there really isn't any "free play" in their day.

That's a really long day for a little kid.

I decided to go for 40 minutes of "work" time in structured centers. I am giving them free choice within appropriate boundaries (not throwing blocks or scribbling on the walls.) And then I am going to work very hard to circulate and talk with the kids and get them to reason about what they are doing. I think they need this in order to incorporate the things they are learning. I also think they need a chance to "redo" some of the activities and games I teach them in workshops that they love. Of course, in true teacher fashion, there won't be any Barbie dolls and I'm not doing a housekeeping center, so most of their choices will be relatively academic. Sure, they will make "cake" out of the unifix cubes, but hopefully I will be able to make it to them to suggest a nice pattern for their candles or a quick question about how many they have.

It also gives me something to take away when we need a consequence or some time to check in with kids who need problems solved or a bit of extra attention.
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:12 PM
 
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In the perfect world, I would love to have 40 minutes every day set aside for self-directed learning/activities. I don't live in a perfect world, both in terms of time and in terms of what admin expects. I'm hoping to set aside 20 minutes per day for self-directed learning. We'll see what happens once the school year starts!
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Old 08-23-2010, 04:20 AM
 
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After reading all the posts, I do agree that some free time is needed. My school goes from 8:10 - 2:15. We have a hard time getting things in. Sometimes I feel that all I do is have them work so we can get things done. I have noticed in the past that at the beginning of the year they are still in that Kindergarten mode. All they remember is that in K they played games, did centers, and had rest time. It is hard for them to move to first and not have the rest time. At our school first is a big transitional year. According to my principal (and an article I read on Yahoo), this (1st) is the age that personalities are set. Which means we must work hard to mold these children into what is expected of a student. I think this year, I will implement some free time for the first couple weeks and then gradually ween them off. At my school the K & 1st get 15-20 snack/restroom break and two 15 recess times (lunch recess is a little longer). By 2nd, the morning recess is taken out of the daily schedule (this is a big adjustment for the kids).
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