When looking at Regio Emilia, what is a provocation?

What I feel is one of the major aspects of Regio Emilia would have to be provocations. That begs the question though, what is a provocation. In the most simple descriptions, a provocation is just something that provokes. That could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To me and what I have seen a provocation is something that draws the students in and makes them want to engage in the learning you have set out.

When I first started looking into Regio Emilia I was overwhelmed with this idea. How was I going to engage with what it is that I want them to learn set up in an aesthetically pleasing way? I can barely get my own decor to be aesthetically pleasing and now I have to make my lessons aesthetically pleasing? It seemed to truly impossible. What I didn’t think about was the fact that I just had to think small.

With Regio Emilia, it is important for there not to be too much going on with the provocation. The table shouldn’t be crowded and should only have what is needed for the activity. Instead of using regular plastic bins, use wooden or metal bowls from a thrift shop that are interesting or look like a part of nature.  Doing this automatically makes it look better and it makes students want to see what is going on with it.

Provocation does not have to complicated, it does not have to be super beautiful. provocation is just a simple way to help to engage students in their own learning.


Setting up the first one so students who need help to start have an idea.

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Other possibilities that I would love to explore in an intermediate setting are:

  • An interesting photo, picture or book,
  • Nature (e.g. specimens)
  • Conceptual (e.g. changing seasons, light)
  • Old materials displayed in a new way,
  • An interest that a child or children have,
  • An object (e.g. magnets, maps)
  • New creative mediums,
  • Questions (from any source – i.e. What is gravity?)
  • An event (e.g. a presentation, a holiday)


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