Choice Boards

Learning Menus, Tic-Tac-Toes, Choice-Making Strategies

Choice Boards

Choice boards can offer students options for academic learning, activities and reinforcers. With choice boards, students take an active role in their learning by choosing among different possible options or choices. The choices are typically represented on the choice board in a visual format and may include words or images depending on the skill level... of the student. At the top of the choice board, a phrase or heading may be included to indicate what the choice board is for (e.g. math work,"I am working towards earning free time," etc.). Below the heading, several options can be listed and represented by words or images from which the student selects a choice.


  • Behavioral Plan For students who have a behavior plan where they are earning points for attentive listening, a choice board can be used to identify what the student is working to earn. The student is presented with the choice board at the beginning of the day with a piece of paper with the heading “Once I have earned ____ points, I can have_____” and an option of several reinforcers/activities (e.g. computer time, a walk, a visit with the principal or other preferred staff). The student writes one of the choices in the blank space of the sentence. Throughout the day, the teacher will offer positive praise and points as the student demonstrates attentive listening as well as reminds the student what she is working towards. Once the student has earned the activity, she may be offered another choice for what she is working towards with attentive listening for the rest of the day.
  • Music During music class, using a choice board, a student is offered a choice of what instrument he/she would like to play. Once the student makes a choice, the student hands the icon to the teacher in exchange for the musical instrument she is planning on playing.
  • Choice of Activity Once a student has finished his academic assignment, the teacher presents a choice board to the student with two choices, a picture of a student running on the playground and a picture of a student putting a puzzle together. The student then chooses one the of the options and this activity immediately becomes available to the student.
  • Ordering Food A teacher is taking two students to McDonalds for lunch. One student can verbally place the order, another student does not communicate verbally. A laminated piece of paper with the heading: “I would like to order” can have several pieces of Velcro attached. The student is given pictures, words or icons of a variety of menu items. The teacher asks the student to choose what he would like to eat. The student chooses the cheeseburger, small French fries and milk icons and places them on the Velcro strip. When it is time for the student to order, the student hands the strip to the cashier.

Implementation Tips

  • Ensure Availability of Choices When offering choices make sure that all choices being offered are actually available for the student. It will be confusing for a student to make a choice and then not be able receive or have that option.
  • Honoring the Student's Choice When students have made a choice it is generally best to honor that choice immediately to reinforce the concept.
  • Using Physical Objects For students with severe cognitive delays, actual objects rather than a choice board can be used. For instance the teacher could put a box of crayons and a puzzle in front of a student and ask her to point to what she wants to do.
  • Peer Support Classmates should be encouraged to communicate with their peers. Classmates may take turns each morning setting up a choice board with the student in order to assist the student in selecting what he will be ordering in the cafeteria for lunch that day.
  • Integrating Words and Phrases As students gain academic skills, pictures can be replaced with words or phrases.
  • Creating a Choice Board On-Demand If a new situation comes up and there is no choice board available, simply write the heading on a piece of paper and draw or write the words for the choices being offered. Ask the student to circle her choice or read the choices aloud and have the student indicate what choice he/she would like.
  • Ensure there are Backup Pictures/Icons When creating pictures/words/icons to use on choice boards, make several copies of each so if they are lost there are quick replacements.

Universal Design for Learning

Guideline 4
Provide options for physical action

Checkpoint 4.1
Vary the methods for response and navigation
Guideline 7
Provide options for recruiting interest

Checkpoint 7.1
Optimize individual choice and autonomy