What are invitations and provocations?
Reggio-inspired invitations and provocations come from our children’s ideas and theories, they are our response to what we have noticed in our children’s child-led play and inquiries. Although they are intentional they are still open-ended in nature with no prescribed outcome. They are an invitation to explore, discover, investigate and create. They aim to provoke thought, inquiry, discussion, creativity and new ideas.
In the classroom environment I would set up provocations before children entered with the aim of sparking interest and wonder. At home it is a little different, it is rare that I set up an invitation or provocation the night before, it’s not that there’s anything wrong with setting up an invitation in advance, it’s just that at home I am not that organised. So more often than not my children are present as I pull out materials, whats more is they actually get involved in setting up these spaces for exploration and discovery.
The day before I had noticed that both girls were interested in positioning objects and making enclosures out of them. They had worked together to empty our entire pantry of tins and had lined them up wall to wall. My eldest had discovered that she could pull the kitchen cabinets open so that they closed together to make an enclosure. So I decided to set up a provocation that worked with the idea of positioning and enclosure on a smaller scale. I thought we might branch off into patterning but I had no real agenda and of course it didn’t.
My youngest watched me as I pulled out the white sheet and lay it out in our yard, she responded with a ‘wooow!’, apparently, being there at the conception of a provocation is equally if not more exciting than discovering the finished product. My eldest joined me in pulling the boxes of loose parts out, choosing what she would like to add and enjoying the sense of agency and independence it gave her, to be involved, to be collaborating.
She took her animals over to the frames I had laid out and used them as an enclosure, lining them up inside. There commenced play that evolved and incorporated other pieces.
The set up of this provocation led me to reflect on my image of the child as competent and capable and how I could perhapbs be involving my children more in the design of their spaces in the home, trusting them to make decisions and to be able to represent their ideas through the materials I provide access to. I never would have added the animals, it didn’t fit with my own ideas and agenda, but together we were able to co-construct a space that built on existing interests but also showed me new ones I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to notice.
How do you set up spaces for your children at home? How much involvement do they have?