Tag Archive | spring

Reggio Provocations Explained

The Reggio Emilia educational philosophy (established in Italy) is one that is quickly gaining momentum in countries world wide – and for good reason. I spent three years working at a kindergarten school that followed the Reggio philosophy which is where I gained a thorough understanding and love for it!  The Reggio approach has many wonderful facets but today I will focus solely on Reggio provocations.  If you are interested in the Reggio approach to early childhood education, I encourage you to take some time to read this.

On alternating Fridays I blog about parent/teacher

hot topics & interesting info or Q&A


 Today’s Topic: Reggio Provocations

Provocations (as They Relate to Reggio Emilia)

  • What are Reggio provocations?

First, it is important to note that there is no set or specific objective to be achieved.  Simply put, the sole purpose of a provocation is to elicit some kind of response. Then, based on the response given, new materials, questions or opportunities are introduced to further explore a topic.


  • What is so valuable about Reggio provocations?

The idea of learning by means of provocation (rather than ‘being taught’) is valuable because there is:

  1. Genuine Interest – Children have a lot of control over the direction of their learning
  2. Genuine Experience – Children learn through touching, moving, listening and observing
  3. Natural Curiosity – Children are encouraged and provoked to explore materials, relationships and environments with as few limits as possible
  4. Genuine Self-Expression – Children can be afforded endless ways and opportunities to express themselves
  5. Authentic Tasks – Children are engaged in work that is purposeful and meaningful to themselves and others.  They are more likely to retain the knowledge (and more importantly) the skills that they acquire, because their desire to do the tasks is intrinsic; therefore they identify problems themselves and eagerly want to solve them.
  • How can I set up Reggio provocations?

While setting up Reggio provocations requires careful thought, they can be simple, inexpensive and the possibilities are infinite!

  1. Initial Topic – Observe and question your tot about a topic of interest.
  2. Choose MaterialsMaterials can include anything; books, natural materials, art supplies, collections, tools, blocks, light, mirrors, water; the list is endless.
  3. Set-Up – Set up should be visually appealing and intriguing – inviting exploration. First, consider where you will set up.  What kind of space is required?  Next, choose a way to display your materials; consider the type of containers or holders you will use – they should be interesting and compliment your materials.  Last, define the workspace using trays, mats, table cloths, paper, etc.  When you define a work area, children naturally move towards it.
  4. Observation – Observe your tot interacting with the provocation you have set up.  What is interesting?  What is said?  What is asked?  What is being done? Take notes.
  5. Extension – Based on your observations, add new materials as needed.  Respond to your tot’s interests by supporting his/her efforts to “do” something.  (This inevitably leads to some sort of ‘project’)
  • Can I see examples of Reggio provocations?

Of course!  The example below is a brief overview of this post (if you want to see the full thing).  However, that post does not include the extension, which is crucial and is noted below.









  1. Initial Topic – The girls had been talking a lot about catching butterflies with nets, going for walks and going to the playground so I decided to present my materials using spring themed containers, holders and colours.
  2. Choose MaterialsI chose the materials to be textiles related to bathing because our theme this week is ‘bath time’. I also added some art supplies (stamp pad, markers and paper on the wall)
  3. Set-Up – I chose a space with natural light in an open area.  The items used to display the materials were engaging.  I defined the work space with the green tape on the wall to add another dimension and to provide a larger-than-usual canvas.
  4. Observation – The girls were VERY interested and much was done, (click here to see the initial response) but the element of this provocation that generated the most interest was the decorative tree and even more specifically, the decorative eggs in the tree.
  5. Extension – As a result of the observation, the next day, I introduced plastic eggs to the table.
New materials added (plastic eggs) as a result of the previous day's observations

New materials added (plastic eggs) as a result of the previous day’s observations

This led us to two projects: (Keep in mind that the girls are 2 years + 4 months)

Project #1 – Creating ‘Surprise’ Eggs – While exploring all the materials, one of them decided that they wanted to put something into the plastic eggs to make a ‘surprise’.  I asked them what they would like to put inside.  The unanimous response was “chocolate”.  I told them we didn’t have any chocolate.  Rather than choosing to solve that problem, they came up with a different suggestion.  “I make a picture, put in eggs. Please get me paper.”

Problem 1 – I used suggestive language and said, “Here is your paper, this is quite a big paper to fit into a little egg”.  They quickly decided to cut the paper.  Then they drew pictures which I labelled for them.

M cuts her paper into smaller pieces

M cuts her paper into smaller pieces

O's labelled pictures

O’s labelled pictures









Problem 2 – There were 4 eggs that needed to be divided equally.  They chose one at a time until gone. (“M 2 eggs & O 2 eggs”, was said) – They’re teaching themselves math!!!

Problem 3 – The drawings were still too big to fit into the eggs.  “I cut, use scissors”, said M.  As she began to cut, O said, “No! M, break picture my made” – so cutting was no longer an option.  With A LOT of prompting and questioning by me (my final prompt was, “How do we get our clothes to fit into our drawers?”), they came to the conclusion that we could FOLD the drawings.  Then they placed them into the eggs and gave them to guests that visited later that day.

Folding the paper so it will fit into the eggs

Folding the paper so it will fit into the eggs

Putting the surprise into the egg.

Putting the surprise into the egg.









Project #2 – Decorating Eggs – They decided they would like to decorate the plastic eggs and tried using marker on them which kept coming off on their hands.  They asked me about a book we recently read inwhich the characters decorated eggs.  I explained that they were real eggs.  “I decorate real eggs too”.

Problem 1 – I tried having a conversation about how eggs are fragile and break open easily and that we needed to find a way to make them hard.  In the end, they just had no ideas and no way of knowing how to make an egg hard.  So I told them that we would cook them in boiling water.  I asked them to choose the pot that was most appropriately sized to cook the eggs in.   I showed them the bubbling water which amazed them! “Steam, very hot”, they said.

Choosing the appropriate sized pot

Choosing the appropriate sized pot

Watching water boil - NOT BORING with these two!

Watching water boil – NOT BORING with these two!










Problem 2 – They wanted to decorate them right away but obviously they were too hot.  “How can we make them colder?”, I asked.  “Put it in fridge”.  Done.  I asked them how they wanted to decorate.  They told me they wanted to paint the eggs so I chose this opportunity to introduce them to water paints, which they have never used before.

M using water paints for the first time

M using water paints for the first time

Learning how to use water paints

Learning how to use water paints










"I like red"

“I like red”

M is pleased with our decorated eggs

M is pleased with our decorated eggs













Problem 3 They wanted to eat them for lunch.  How do we get the eggs out of the shell?

Peeling eggs - fine motor skills at use!

Peeling eggs – fine motor skills at use!

Eating eggs with our lunch!

Eating eggs with our lunch!









They really liked the water paints…so now I might set up a provocation table related to water paints with flowers and a Claude Monet book, etc.  It is important to note that even though the projects shown were short-term projects, they can take as long as is needed.

  • In Summation

This was a lengthy post, I hope you found it helpful and worthy of your time.  That being said, I would like to leave you with this idea:  I liken Reggio provocations to planting seeds.  You provide a seed and your child’s knowledge, curiosity and creativity will cause it to flourish in beautiful ways; often in ways that you could never predict or imagine.


P.S.  Last Chance!!!

This weekend is the last opportunity to take advantage of our anniversary sale (20% off all of our curriculum).   Use the code: CTM20 at check-out and bag yourself a bargain!! This offer will end March 29, 2015.


 Click here to visit our shop

Exploring Textiles: A Reggio Provocation

Today is our first Reggio Emilia provocation activity! I’m so excited to be introducing this newly added element that is incorporated into our current curriculum, Leaping Lilies.  If you are not sure what a Reggio Provocation is, don’t worry, I will post a blog on Friday with an explanation.  For today, it is helpful to understand that a provocation has absolutely no objective. It is advisable and enjoyable to just sit and observe what your tot does and see where it takes you!

On alternating Mondays I blog about a Reggio Emilia Provocation Activity 


This week’s Theme: Bath Time

Description of Provocation: Exploring Textiles: Provide swatches of towel/cloth, pieces of sponge, mini loofahs, stamp pad and paper

O&M’s Ages (at the time of posting this): 2 years+ 4 months


Set Up (The display for a provocation should be visually appealing and intriguing)

  • I chose to use a spring theme because the first official day of spring has just passed and the girls have been asking about going for walks and going to the playground.









The Materials (The items included in your provocation)

  • Art Supplies: Stamp pad, markers, poster paper
  • Textiles: Since our theme is bath time, I chose textiles related to bathing (loofahs, sponges, cloths with different textures)












Initial Reactions (First responses, if any, to the provocation)

  • Exploring the textiles: M showed interest in this, O, not so much.



  • Creating a wall mural: They were both pretty excited about this.










  • Stamping: They used the textiles to stamp


















It’s important to note that I did not give them any direction of any sort.  The provocation and your child’s curiosity, imagination and/or prior knowledge will provide direction.


Secondary Reactions(Upon further inspection and manipulation……)

  • The decorative tree: This became a focal point of conversation and interest
M & O discuss the tree and its elements

M & O discuss the tree and its elements

O decorates the eggs, citing a book we recently read

O decorates the eggs, citing a book we recently read

The completion of our first interaction with this provocation table

The completion of our first interaction with this provocation table


Observations & Moving Forward: (This is where your job comes in!  After observing and listening, consider ways in which you can add to or extend the provocation, based on what your tot did)

Here are the things I noted:

  • At one point M said to O, “Shhh!  Baby birds come out of the eggs”.
  • As mentioned above, O decided to decorate the eggs as she remembered this happening in a story we read a couple of weeks ago; M excitedly joined in.
  • O also mentioned that it would be nice if the eggs could open and there would be surprises inside.


  • Since much of the excitement and interest revolved around the eggs in the tree, tomorrow I will show them a video clip about eggs (from hen to your home, to all the things we can do with eggs).  We will discuss it and see where the conversation takes us as to what we could do next.  -For example, maybe they would show an interest in cooking eggs, we could do an experiment about all the different ways to cook eggs.
  • On the original provocation table, I will add some plastic eggs and/or possibly a couple of hard boiled eggs and see where that goes. – For example, maybe they would decide to make things to put into the plastic eggs as a surprise, or maybe they will want to decorate them.

The possibilities are endless!!!!

P.S.  Don’t forget!!!

To celebrate our one year anniversary we are offering all of our development programs at 20% off.   Use the code: CTM20 at check-out and bag yourself a bargain!! This offer will be available through March 29, 2015.


 Click here to visit our shop