Wonder Wednesday: Where to Begin With Provocations!

Hi friends! This week I am going to walk you through a couple of provocations I have set up in our room and my goals of using provocations right in the beginning of the year. Where do I start? How do I start? What should I work on first? Are questions I often receive. What a better time to take a closer look at them!

What is a provocation? 
Provocations are anything from a video, an experience, a set up, a photo, a GIF, to a picture book. They are experiences that are truly going to challenge the thinking of the viewer to think, notice, wonder, explore and create their own connections. Provocations take learning deeper, ignite inquiries and empower learners to WANT to go further with their learning and ask questions.The Power of a Provocation .PNG

Trevor and I share about the POWER behind provocations in Inquiry Mindset, and together we created this sketch to illuminate our love for provocations!

Where do I start?
Beginning with choosing your focus, whether it is tied to a current interest, passion or connection to your curriculum, you need to have a starting point. Then, you know what you are hoping to provoke your learners about!

Next, look at what you are most resourced to create or do as a provocation. Do you have a lot of non-fiction or picture books about this topic? What about creating a small world with loose parts to explore? Maybe look for a video, an interesting image or even a GIF. I find researching for provocation inspiration to be a great way to get ideas, think Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Plan with the end in mind! What is the goal of your provocation? Is it to stir up curiosity about a specific topic, is it to heat up prior knowledge or tap into passions and interests? In September, these are all things I am hoping to do, but my most important goal is to practice our ‘thinking and noticing’ routines. These routines lead us into sharing wonders and help us to begin to develop beginner researcher skills. Part of this goal is to make our noticing and thinking visible, so I try to tie that in as much as possible too!

Here is how we have been exploring, noticing and sharing in our Kindergarten class over the past week… 

With a light focus on seasonal changes with Autumn upon us, I have been curating and setting up ‘Fall’ type provocations. Seasonal changes is tied to our curriculum which works well, and is a nice vehicle to practice our noticing, observing and thinking skills. I have two provocation examples to share here, one that is a whole group activity and the other is a set up for children to explore during our ‘free exploration playtime’.

Let’s start with the whole class provocation…
Last week a colleague kindly brought all kindergarten teachers a long corn stalk! I kept it in the corner of my room until I realized what a great provocation it would be. We brought it down one afternoon and I placed it in the middle of our carpet. We immediately became ‘les scientifiques’ (scientists!). We quietly and calmly walked around the ‘corn stalk’ (at the time I did not announce what it was) with pretend magnify glasses in our hands. We were practicing ‘noticing’. I led with the question: What do you see? They responded using the stem: I see…/Je vois…

IMG_7711We stopped a few times to share what we saw, and while they shared I quickly recorded on a Padlet I had created. I created this Padlet using the ‘shelf’ mode, which allows you to make columns. I find it easy to use, once I have it set up and ready to go. I also enjoy having it up on my screen as we go, so kiddos can see their name and their words (remember part of my goal is to make our noticing and thinking visible, and this also celebrates that every voice is important!!
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Organically the conversation switched to questions we had, so we created a ‘I wonder…/Je me demande…’ tab as well. This was not my initial plan, we were solely going to be working on sharing what we noticed and saw, but since the questions started to arise, I rolled with it.

To follow up with this activity, we did some measurement of us compared to the corn stalk and I searched some different time lapses of corn growing, which the kiddos really enjoyed!! More noticing and questions began to flow.

The small group ‘Provocation Invitation’…
This provocation table was set up as an invitation to explore and to document their observations during our free exploration play time. Yesterday there was a lot of interest and kids observing and interacting with the materials using magnify glasses and mini clipboards. I can’t wait to see what comes of this over the next couple of days!!

My role in this is, as the inquiry teacher, to guide some of the observations, but overall to step back and allow their observing and documentation to unfold. I enjoy listening, taking mental notes of interests and knowledge and I will most likely do a documentation day as well. Stay tuned!

What types of thinking routines and provocations are you weaving into your start up? I would love to hear.

Stay curious, 



Wonder Wednesday: Story Workshop

WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL! This Wonder Wednesday is a bit of a long and different post. At the bottom I have linked in a bunch of books that I use as the provocation read for each week of Story Workshop.

I have had a lot of questions on how I run our ‘Story Workshop’ sessions in our French Immersion Kindergarten class. So I thought I would break it down and share how I roll it out. I think it is more of a mix between retelling and story workshop, but it works really well and is such a powerful process. We celebrate retelling, oral language, creativity, imagination and collaboration. I just LOVE it. It evolves with time, as does our oral language and ability to create and invent our own stories.

I get a lot of inspiration from my friends over at AnnieVille Kinders, they are incredible and you will want to check them out on Twitter. Prepared to be mind blown from their beautiful pictures of how they run their Story Workshops. They are incredible educators!!

SO, here we go!

Each week I choose a different story that is appropriate for the language ability of my learners, remember French Immersion Kindergarten. I pick a book that is short and has a few characters. I also have tried to focus on stories that focus on a connection to the land we live on. I feel it is such an important topic to learn, share and focus on, and find that Story Workshop is a great place to introduce the concept.


Here is what the week looks like:

Monday: I read the story to the whole class on the carpet, I pause and we do predictions and practice inferring skills. We make connections to the story and the characters through various prompts and questions. Then, together on the carpet I (but we all) practice retelling the story. I typically pick specific parts of the story that I know we will be capable of retelling in French and together we practice those. I use the characters and model how I might use the different props to set up a scene and then begin modeling how I would go about retelling the story with a partner. Together we retell the story and practice out loud certain sentences and key vocab words. This process is CRUCIAL. The modelling and scaffolding that goes on the first day is SO important, it sets my learners up for success for the rest of the week.

Tuesday:  Tuesday morning, before school starts, I set up Story Workshop areas at our tables. I put out a mat, the materials needed (that I modeled with yesterday) and the specific characters. We use a lot of wooden characters, extra puzzle pieces, characters from a matching game, popsicle sticks with printouts and sometimes we improvise and wolves become bears, if needs be! We are flexible and we talk about how we can use our imagination to create our characters.


Then when we begin, we all meet on the carpet and read the story again. This time without prompts, pauses and questions. Just read through. After, I model some of the key phrases and words again, and together we practice saying them. I quickly partner or triad kids up and then they move to the tables and get going on retelling the story, using the words and phrases we practiced. I circle around encouraging, sometimes I stop everyone and we practice words and phrases again, and I celebrate the oral language and retelling that is going on. It is wonderful! A trick I started using to encourage French and oral language is by giving out gems (from the dollarstore). The gems are such a beautiful addition to our story set ups and creations, they love using them as rivers and food and more! As soon as I hear kids speaking and retelling, they receive a handful of gems. Very quickly each group will have a handful of gems, works like a charm!

Wednesday: Wednesday we quickly meet on the carpet and read through the story TOGETHER. Their participation today is KEY. I sometimes read half of a sentence and encourage them to finish it, or they are a character and I am the narrator, I switch it up! Reading the book the third time through may seem repetitive but remember our goal is retelling, oral language and creativity. The more they know the story, the better they are set up for creating, retelling and enjoying!

Then, after being put into partners or triads they gather their supplies for today, a little more choice than yesterday. They settle in and they begin. TODAY they know that they can retell OR they can create their own stories using the characters from the book. At the beginning of the year, I model creating my own story after we quickly read the book together, but as the year progresses they understand how this works. Today we often pause put our hands on our heads and listen to each others’ stories. They are usually quite funny and creative, lots of giggles and inspiration for the other kids. We then get back to creating and use some of the ideas they just witnessed. I love when kids feel confident to share out and we always do a silent cheer, silent clap or a BRAVO for the group that shared. Sharing out also creates community and celebrating each other, I love it!

Thursday: Thursdays are a day where their ideas, creativity and imagination get to shine. They also have more choice in how they story tell on Thursdays, I think it is their favourite day. Remember, every day before Thursdays is modelling and scaffolding storytelling and retelling, it is a process that works well because of how repetitive it is.

Depending on the time of year and the type of story, sometimes we don’t always re-read the story, and other times we do a quick read through. Then the children get to choose if they would like to create or retell using the props OR draw their story on paper using sharpies. It is very neat to see who chooses what! The building with props is MUCH more free than the other days, they have access to the entire shelf and can build anywhere in the room in small groups or partners. There aren’t really restrictions. The children use trays to transport props to where they would like to work. The children who choose to use sharpies and paper take a piece of card stock (half a page), a clipboard and a black sharpie and decide where they would like to draw. Lots will lie on the floor and create their stories. Depending on time, I usually have watercolour paints out to add to their sharpie stories. Some get to painting, others never do. Again, painting and finishing is not the point, it is the process. img_9071.jpg

IMG_1337.JPGDepending on time we sometimes share out our stories, they really do love presenting (especially if they spent a long time building and practicing). The sharpie drawings are a hit too and are often shared back at the carpet at clean up time.
Friday: We didn’t do Fridays last year, as we had a special activity Friday mornings, but in the past the final day was to document their story. If they hadn’t drawn something yet, they could or they could choose to build again and use an iPad to document their story. We did use Adobe Spark to capture the beginning, middle and end and then record our voices. We also used Pic Collage Edu to take pictures throughout our story and put them all together for a collage the gave readers/viewers snapshots of their story. Fridays are great! It is also a great time to post on Fresh Grade or your portfolio platform, if you haven’t yet this week. Have your learners try to do it themselves!

As the year progressed and our routines became much quicker, we added in Journals in the last 15 minutes. We wove in emerging writing practices such as drawing a picture, labeling with initial sounds, writing character names. It was a quick journal, with a focus on beginner writing practices, sometimes we didn’t get to colour… but again that wasn’t our main focus. I believe we added this in mid November, some kiddos really excelled with the challenge and extension of our Story Workshop routine.

Here are some of the books I used last fall, in no particular order:  
*Even if the books are in English this activity is solely done in French, I ad lib the book and use very simple language to tell a similar story as close to the English version as possible.

Good Morning World & Good Night World: SO great for beginner language learners to learn good morning and goodnight! They love it. Both of these books are by Native Northwest. 

One Piece of String : Great for adding in twine and wool to add to our stories, by Marthe Jocelyn
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Lost Little Owl: Such a great story! by Chris Haughton

Foxy and Friends 
Renardo et ses amis: THIS IS MY NUMBER ONE RECOMMENDATION for a series of books for Story Workshop in Kindergarten, especially if you are just starting out. It is a beautiful set of stories that build on each other, with the same characters throughout. The set is wonderful and it is available in English and FRENCH (at a GREAT level for Kinder). I cannot say enough about this set. Click here to see the website where you can order the books. 


Mama do you Love me?: 
Beautiful story! Great for adding in people. I use little wooden people from Lee Valley! 


The Raven Series: From Strong Nations is another awesome set for Kindergarten!! They have big books and a small set of books as well. They cover great concepts that are tied to the curriculum and are a very easy place to start!! Check them out here. 



I hope this post has helped to paint a picture of of how our Story Workshop works. I would love to see and hear how you run yours, and if you have any book titles to share, please do!

Stay curious,