What is a provocation?


A provocation, specifically in Early Childhood Education, can be described as an open-ended, exciting and engaging offering of materials and space that is intended to provoke imagination, stimulate ideas, and start conversation. These spaces are intended for both independent work as well as group collaboration.

Below you will find a brief yet informative description of some provocations that children in the Lily Class interact with daily.

Sensory Bins

A sensory bin creates an opportunity to learn through tactile play, stimulating multiple senses at the same time. Children will work in sensory bins in small groups or as a calming solo activity. In addition to the sensory and centering benefits, they also assist in a variety of physical and social developments for this age group.

When intentionally themed and put together, they provide an opportunity for academic skills around specific topics. Here we created a small natural world with a clear theme, but a sensory bin can be created using any combination of materials.

Fine Motor Skills

Different tools like tweezers or a brush increase fine motor skill strength through common repeated movements and grip practice. Spoons and cups for scooping, pouring, and measuring out materials are also successful tools.

Cognitive Skills

Sensory bins support cognitive skills by providing a chance to sort items, create our own patterns, and practice counting. A mix of a few materials (trees, rocks, gems) is great for this. A guiding question like, "how many shiny rocks do you have?" can start a game of number practice.

Social Skills

As the items in the bin take on meaning, social practices like taking turns, communicating a message, and sharing a space are strengthened. We will often try out similar materials in individual bins one day and a shared bin the next to make a space for these conversations.

Full body building

Outside on the playground we have some amazing large interlocking building blocks. These blocks are available every day for the children to use. As the year has gone on we have seen some incredibly intricate and powerful structures. The children in the Lily Class use these blocks to enhance imaginary play scenrarios, construct home bases and ice cream shops, launch rocketships and implement countless obstacle course challenges.

Not only do these building experiences touch upon the skills mentioned above, but they also invite collaboration, teamwork, problem solving and negotiation skills. We challenge friends to use their strong voices and "talk to each" other when trying to implement their ideas together and the results are often, pretty incredible.

Written by Matisse Newton and Mickey Alpert