Week 1: Stones and Water (52 Weeks of Provocations)

Welcome to the first of my posts about the provocations I offer Squirm. You can find more information about provocations here 🙂

Rock and Water Provocation: Adventures of a Subversive Reader

Provocation 1 : Stones and Water

Background Information

We’ve noticed that Squirm is very interested in the way things feel. He likes to pick things up, likes to thoroughly examine them. He’s also a big fan of water. I wanted his first provocation to have some familiar objects, but offered together in a way they hadn’t been available to him before.


  •  12 river stones (from discount store)
  • Water
  • 2 paint brushes (part of a pack from Woolworths)
  • Small tongs (from Spotlight)
  • Hard plastic bowl (from discount store)
  • Plastic container (from discount store)
  • Silver tray (from discount store)
  • Mirror

Set Up

I placed the stones into the bowl and placed it next to the container of water. These were both offered on the tray, along with the mirror, the brushes and the tongs. (All of these were presented on an upturned crate-style box – I’m hoping to get a small table soon)

Rock and Water Provocation: Adventures of a Subversive Reader


I was amazed at the huge range of activities Squirm explored with this provocation, very few of which I had expected. He spent a fair amount of time picking the stones up and dropping them into the water – which was probably closest to what I expected – but there were many other things he discovered while playing.

Most of the play was with individual items. Although he had been exposed to all these items before, this was the first time he’d really explored them – probably because it was the first time they were available constantly and in an uncrowded way. The stones were probably his favourite things – he spent a lot of time picking them up and moving them around, but he also explored the way they sounded (dropping them on different surfaces, banging them together) and the way they moved (his favourite thing was getting them to spin on the cement floor).

Sound was a common theme throughout the week – Squirm also used the brushes and the tongs to bit against different surfaces and objects, exploring the different sounds he could make. He spent a significant amount of time with the tongs, working out how to squeeze them together (though he doesn’t yet have the strength to carry things with them).

There was also a significant amount of water play. Squirm’s favourite thing was hitting the water, although he wasn’t always thrilled to be splashed by it. He also enjoyed tipping it up and examining the way it moved on the tray or the concrete.

Rock and Water Provocation: Adventures of a Subversive Reader Rock and Water Provocation: Adventures of a Subversive Reader

What Next?

Although I’m not immediately offering a similar provocation, there are a number of ways I can see this provocation being extended and changed. We could offer alternatives to the stones, or offer different materials as well as them. We could also replace the water with something different. Squirm really enjoyed this, so I can definitely see us revisiting something similar in the future.

Rock and Water Provocation: Adventures of a Subversive Reader Rock and Water Provocation: Adventures of a Subversive Reader Rock and Water Provocation: Adventures of a Subversive Reader

Provocations are experiences offered to a child, based on past knowledge or interests, with the aim of extending the child’s ideas.

Our provocations present a small range of materials – some which are part of Squirm’s every day life, others which are new to him, or only known from other provocations. The aim is to present them in a thoughtful and (hopefully) attractive way, and to allow Squirm to investigate them in any manner he wishes. These provocations will remain in place for around a week, and then a new provocation will be presented.



  1. Great ideas. The tongs are a good one to add because they help with the beginnings with fine motor activities. My children would’ve played with anything if water was involved.

    1. The tongs were great – he’s got a pretty good grasp of the pincer grip (through baby-led weaning) but these definitely worked his hands out in different ways.

      And water is always a winner 🙂

  2. I always found my toddlers really loved having every day objects to play with and explore like this, though I don’t think I was ever quite this organised about it.
    I can’t believe how much he is growing up! It seems not that long ago he was just a wee baby

    1. I’ve been surprised at the difference it’s made when I’ve presented them like this – he seems to really focus on the materials 🙂

      He’s turning into a real little boy – not so sure how I feel about that 🙂

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