Working collaboratively to help our plants "stay warm and cozy."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

On Earth Day I decided to offer this provocation for our growth inquiry in hopes that it might spark some discussion around plants, bulbs, seeds, and roots.  As an educator, I waited and I watched, however, none of the children seemed to be intrigued by it.  In fact no one had even visited it once during the first day that I had set it out!

A provocation, or invitation for learning, is what an educator might place upon a table or surface within the classroom to provoke their students' curiosity.  Sometimes the students notice it immediately and begin to engage with the materials that were very carefully and intentionally provided for them, while other times, the invitation for learning is not one that interests them.  My suggestion is to be patient and document what occurs within your learning environment.  Give the provocation a chance before you abandon it!

Here is what happened on the next day:

A.A. noticed the provocation that I had set out.

M.Y. joined her and the two of them began to cover the plants with paper towel that they had taken from beside our classroom sink.

M.Y. Look! The plants are almost dead!  I want to save them!

A.A. The plants are about to die!  Let's use some paper towel and toothpicks around the soil so they will stay warm and cozy.  Maybe they will grow!

M.Y. Maybe they will come back to life!  They were very dead so we have to take care of the plants…when they get really REALLY dead we have to throw them into the garbage.  I feel so sad when they die.

Ms. Babalis: Why did you use toothpicks?

A.A.: Because toothpicks are pointy and they stick through.  That was the only way that the paper towel would stick.  We needed the paper towel because it didn't have a pot!

Ms. Babalis: Do all plants need a pot?

A.A.: No! Sometimes they could live in a garden.

M.Y.: A plant could live in a garden, a pot, a basket sometimes.  In China it could! Dora picked the flowers and put it into the basket.

A.A. We want to make our own garden!

M.Y. We want them for the Spring play.  In the Spring there are lots of flowers.  

A.A. We want to put it on the stage.

I often like to document moments that surprise or puzzle me!  This was an example of such a moment…

I used this example during the York University Kindergarten Specialist course that I am instructing, as an entry into pedagogical documentation.  Together with the participants in the course we selected which photos to use for this blog post, editing them down from thirty photos to nine.  We also looked at the notes that I had recorded from the dialogue between the two students and highlighted the parts that we felt supported the photographs.  If I had some work samples, I could have decided to use those as well.  

After creating the blog post, we made a one page write-up that might be studied with other colleagues to inform our next steps and later added to each student's documentation portfolio.

Remember that every piece of data that we collect can support and inform our planning!  


  1. How long do you leave a provocation out to explore and do you change them throughout the day from literacy to numeracy? The tables in my classroom double as their snack tables so there usually has to be some cleanup between exploration time.

  2. Dear Joanne, liked your idea to create curiosity among kids in order save plants and make them aware of the importance of plants in our environment and life. Thanks for composing such a beautiful and informative post, keep writing and sharing such useful ideas. Good Luck!