3 Lessons I've Learned About Reggio Provocations


Provocations are experiences I set-up in the classroom as a way to build on children’s interests, ideas, curiosities, and questions. Ultimately, provocations are a way for children to construct and deconstruct their ideas and theories. They should be open-ended and the intention is for children to explore and express themselves. There is not a right or wrong way to approach a provocation.

While I’m still learning so much about Reggio, I wanted to share three lessons I’ve learned along the way. My hope is that if you are new to Reggio you might find this helpful. I wish I would have heard this advice when I was starting out.

Lesson #1:

There is no time limit on provocations.

If the children are engaged with the provocation, you can keep it out for as long as they are interested. When I first started teaching, I thought I needed to create a NEW provocation every day. I was using so much creative power and energy doing this. I realized this is a completely false expectation I put in my head. Children love consistency so if they are engaged with the provocation, leave it out and perhaps you can make small changes, enhancements, or adjustments. They might engage with it one day and then come back to it again the next day and engage with it differently. You might leave it out for a week, a month, or longer if they are interested in it. There is no time limit on a provocation.


Lesson #2

If the children are not engaging in the provocation, I have to check my own agenda and perspective.

Am I really listening to their ideas or my own?  This will happen. It’s ok. It’s part of being a reflective teacher to recognize this when it’s happening and rethink your plan. I can think of countless things I’ve set-out and they were total flops. So don’t be so hard on yourself. Again, it will happen so just be aware of it happening and try to hone in on their ideas, curiosities, and questions and rethink your plan.


Lesson #3

Provocations can be so simple!

When I first started teaching Reggio, I would search for “Reggio provocations” and everything looked so beautifully set-up. Yes, I love beautiful aesthetics and also strive for the same. However, at the root of a provocation is the idea to “provoke their thinking further” based on their interests. A provocation is so much more than a beautifully set-up table invitation. A provocation can come in MANY forms and materials to spark creativity, initiative, and innovation:

  • Books (on a topic they wanted to know more about)

  • Interesting object (This could be anything that ties into their questioning from the natural world or artificial.

  • Photos (Photos of the children playing or experiencing something together or photos that support your investigation)

  • Conceptual (Light, shadow)

  • Guest speaker or event (plan an event or experience around your inquiry)

  • Art (materials that provoke them to express themselves or collaborate together)

  • Loose parts (sky is the limit here!)

I hope that helps clear up some misconceptions about provocations. As in anything, this is a process. The more we can reflect on our teaching and best practices, it will support and strengthen our relationships with our students and families.