Contemplating Reggio and Provocations: 52 Weeks of Provocations

52 Weeks of Provocation: Adventures of a Subversive Reader

When I wrote up our trip to Ipswich Art Gallery the other day, I mentioned that I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about the educational history and philosophy of the Reggio Emilia approach. This is an absolutely HUGE topic, with an amazing background, but there are some elements which consistently stand out to me.

One of these is the understanding that children are capable, that they are interested in the world and that they can construct their own learning. Often this is demonstrated through the use of projects, initiated by the children and mentored by the adults working with them. Other times children are given a chance to explore through provocations.

Provocations: deliberate and thoughtful decisions made by the teacher to extend the ideas of the children.Journey Into Early Childhood

There’s some wonderful things being written about provocations out there – one of my very favourites is from An Everyday Story (go check out the whole wonderful blog) which talks through how to set up a Reggio-inspired activity. You can also find more information here and here. But although I’ve seen gorgeous provocations for older children, I’ve seen less for children around Squirm’s age (12 months).

So, once again, I turn back to An Everyday Story to think about provocations for Squirm – there’s my guiding principal, right at the top of the Activity page – “What have they been wondering about?”

Squirm is pre verbal, so working out his wonderings is based entirely on observation. And when I started observing, I started noticing a lot! Squirm in interested in so many things, meaning that there are many, many provocations I could set up for him to enjoy.

And there’s my plan – to aim to set up a provocation each week, adjusting them and building on them as Squirm explores. As each week draws to a close, I hope to blog about them, to share the explorations, wonderings and learning that come out of them. I have no doubt that some weeks will be more successful than others, but I’m also mindful that the provocations won’t always be Big Things – that sometimes they’ll be a walk to a new place, or a slight change in a successful provocation from before. And finally, it’s important to me that these provocations are open ended, that they encourage a sense of wonder and fun, that they don’t become overly structured or prescriptive.
I think it will be a challenge. But I also think it will be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to learning more about Squirm and the world over the next 52 weeks 🙂



  1. You may already be aware of this. Did you know that Cannon Hill State School is a Reggio Emilia based school? Obviously a while away until your littl’un is ready for school but just thought I’d let you know.

  2. I think kids are always completely underestimated. My son is 5 and I wish we’d started talking to him in another language when he was a newborn! I have a friend who’s daughters are 3 and 6 and speak 3 languages!! What a gift their mum gave them. Sorry, on a bit of a tangent now, but my point was I think kids are much smarter than we give them credit for. -Aroha (#teamIBOT)

  3. I will be interested to see some of your examples. At first I thought it might be a structured thing (I am not very structured when it comes to my kids learning) but it seems to be more about being a bit more conscious of what you are exposing them to? I shall read a bit more and look forward to seeing how you go.

    1. Different people seem to approach it in different ways, but I’m trying to be very open with it. I suppose I’m offering a set of materials for Squirm to explore, particularly things he may not find on his own (like a small container of water) or which he might not see together (rocks and tongs in the same place). What he does with them, and any other elements he brings into it is up to him 🙂 This first two days has been quite eye opening – I look forward to sharing it

    1. It’s really interesting to read about. I love that the community decided (and still decide) that early childhood learning was important and then spent time researching how to do it best

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