This week I decided to set out a winter-inspired Reggio provocation and see what wonderful creations my daycare kids came up with.
I love setting out Reggio-style provocations for the kids and watching each one approach the materials differently. While what we are discussing as a group will likely shape their approach slightly, a successful invitation will not churn out mirror-image replicas.
Provocations in their truest form are open-ended but with a central concept that you want the children to explore. For me, this was the natural textures of our simple materials.
So while the design of the provocation will hopefully lead them a bit in their exploration, it also allows the children to take the activity in a different direction to express concepts that they are interested in at the moment.
I covered the table in a white, recycled felt, and set out permanent markers, scissors, glue sticks, white glue, cotton balls, pine cones, peg dolls, little hand-crafted leather and wood mice, and some ceramic mushrooms on wire (strong enough to be poked through the cotton balls or felt).
Some of the pine cones were previously glued and rolled in glitter during a previous exploration, while others were still au natural — the children exclusively picked the glitterized pine cones in their creations.
I included two different types of glue because I wanted the children to notice if certain types of glue might be better for certain projects than others. I could have also included tape and sticky tack.
By offering markers, while the children can draw on the peg dolls and felt, I was offering an opportunity to practice writing, which wouldn’t have been offered had I put out paint.
While two children explored the “fixed” materials and put them back in their spots when finished (except for one who put a mouse in his pocket and carried it around for half a day), two of the others crafted their own winter woodland scenes from the materials.
In this one created by Miss G, the peg dolls were used as logs to surround a warming winter fire (the pine cone), and the wooden mouse was used to explore the final scene with Miss G — not becoming a permanent fixture. She experimented with the glue stick and eventually used the white glue to attach her objects, as well as “draw on” ice patches. She drew flowers peeking out of the snow onto the felt with the markers, and wrote a note to display with her art. She also cut into her felt along the edges, “just because.”
In this one created by Miss N, the peg dolls were Anna and Elsa (of Frozen fame), the pine cones were glittery Christmas trees, and the mushroom was repeatedly gauged through the felt to find the perfect spot (and experience that fun sensory push of the wire through the felt fibers). She used the markers to draw clothes onto her dolls, and she glued the peg dolls standing upright and stuck together — arm in arm?
While both girls settled on winter scenes, their expressions, focuses, and interpretations were different, as well as their approach and experimentation with the materials.
Truly, Miss N is obsessed with Frozen, and Miss G with campfires, so giving them an invitation that allowed for both possibilities was wonderful, as well as allowing them to experiment with the materials in their own way and to fulfill their own needs. I love that both girls created a “story” to accompany their winter scene.
Squeezing glue bottles and scissors, poking holes through the felt with wire, feeling the scratchy texture of marker on felt, experimenting with the different types of glue, aligning their objects to create the scene that they wanted, and perhaps most importantly, reinterpreting the objects to create a story that they envisioned and then carrying out that vision, were all wonderful explorations that came out of this provocation.
What would you set out for a winter provocation?