What is a Provocation? Reggio-Inspired Teaching

In Reggio Emilia-inspired preschools you will often hear about teachers creating provocations for students. What does that mean? Rachel from Respectful Learning & Parenting explains:  

Put simply, provocations provoke! They provoke thoughts, discussions, questions, interests, creativity and ideas. They can also expand on a thought, project, idea and interest.

Within the unit of study, provocations can be introduced in many ways:

  • Nature (found materials and specimens)

  • A fascinating photo, picture, or book

  • Interests (class is drawn to a particular subject)

  • Conceptual (shadows, light, seasons)

  • Event (guest speaker, presentation, holiday)

  • Art Materials (new creative mediums to explore)

  • Questions (from students or teacher directed)

  • Objects (map, travel artifact)


Rachel explains further, " Provocations can be as simple as a photo of a rock sculpture next to some pebbles or as elaborate as a table with an assortment of recycled materials next to a book on robots and resources to make upcycled robots. Often though, provocations are simple and displayed beautifully to provoke interest.

Ultimately, the intention of provocations is to provide an invitation for a child to explore and express themselves. It should be open-ended and provide a means for expression where possible.

As our summer pilot program gets until full swing, I plan to post provocations as we go! 

Nature Provocation via Fairy Dust Teaching. Bird nest provocation via Little Worlds. Math provocation via Pinterest. Rock provocation via Respectful Learning & Parenting.