Using Provocations for “Claymates”

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Welcome back to my second post on using provocations in the classroom.  The first time I get invited into the classroom to demonstrate pairing provocations and picture books, my go to is “After the Fall”.  When I get invited back for a second visit,  I love to use “Claymates” and I use the exact same process as with my first visit with “After the Fall”.  I find that kids love the predictability of the routines, and because they “know what to expect” they’re chomping at the bit to see what’s in the bowl and how it all connects to the picture book and the story.


  • Creativity
  • Making Mistakes
  • Friendship

Important Symbols in the book:

  • Clay
  • “Something Wonderful”
  • Scribbles
  • Colours


  • Small piece of paper with the phrase “Something Wonderful” written on it.Two small pieces of paper with scribbles on them.
  • Grey and Brown clay balls on one side of the plate
  • Orange, red, blue, green, yellow clay balls on other side.


As with “After the Fall”, I start with the I Notice/I Wonder chart. I ask students to flex their brain muscles and help me to recap how this thinking routine works. Once we’ve refreshed our memories, we turn our attention to the provocations bowl. Again students are asked to share their Noticings and Wonderings.  As this is the second time around, students are more likely to have wonderings phrased as predictions as to how the provocations might connect to the story, “I wonder if the clay balls represent characters in the book.”.  With this provocation, I purposely place the grey and brown clay balls together on one side of the bowl to represent the main characters.  In the middle are two scribbles and a phrase that are key in the narration. The other side of the bowl has a “rainbow” of clay balls. After we’ve covered the basics of our Noticings and Wonderings, we transition to reading the book.  I stop frequently to encourage students to examine the details of images, and plot to sharing their Noticings and Wonderings. It doesn’t take long before students recognize that the provocations in the bowl feature prominently in the book. Often students start using the provocations to make predictions about what happens next in the plot.

Just like “After the Fall”, when we’ve finished reading the book aloud, we form a circle and I place our laminated tic tac toe board in the middle.  As a group we refresh our memories on the “rules” of tic tac toe:  the middle square is the most strategically “important” , the point of the game is to form lines to “win”.  Collectively, we fill our TTT board with important words, phrase, ideas, themes, objects or from the story.

Together we brainstorm about the most important idea, and it goes in the middle of the board.  From this we built “lines” of ideas.  As we’ve done this once before, students are full of ideas.  They quickly jump to place an important provocation or object from the story on the board, and I continue to prompt them with the follow up questions “what does it represent” and “where does it connect on the board and why?”.  If students are stuck for ideas, I draw their attention back to our Notice/Wonder chart and the book. On its most basic level the tic tac toe thinking routine acts as an opportunity to summarize key events in the story.  However, more often than not, it results in an in-depth, student centered conversation around the key themes, and symbols of a text.

Ideally, the book, bowl or provocations and tic tac toe board are left to sit on a side table for students to continue to interact with.  The provocations can be used as a memory aid to help students to recall the story, often the clay becomes an opportunity for students to recreate their favourite characters or scenes from the story, or create a new character or story inspired by the plot.




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