Picture Books & Provocations (Updated)

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I thought I’d repost this older blog, as it has an updated list of links to my posts on provocations!

What are Provocations?

  • Provocations are strategically selected objects that link to important symbols, themes, motifs and/or conflicts presented in a text and are used to encourage some pre-thinking about a text.
  • Provocations can be assembled in a random order, or be placed strategically to illustrate conflicts, relationships or to draw attention.
  • Often, a bowl or plate of provocations can be used to practice a thinking routine (such as a an “I Notice/Wonder” chart) prior to using the routine with a text.
  • Do I use provocations for every text? No! Ideally provocations are used purposefully, alongside rich texts where you’d like students to think more closely about visual elements such as colors or symbols, or abstract themes, and ideas.

Why Use Provocations?

  • Provocations provide students with an opportunity to explore important themes or ideas prior to encountering them in the text form.
  • Provocations also provide an opportunity to front load key vocabulary terms from a text.
  • Provocations can serve as a concrete, visual representation of abstract ideas and topics.
  • Provocations can act as a “hint” for themes and ideas to come, and then act as a signpost when student recognize them during the reading process ie. “ the wings on the bird remind me of the feather I saw in the bowl before the story”.

What Do They Look Like?

Take a look a these posts on my blog to see some provocation sets for the following picture books:

Mixed by Arree Chung

A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker

Beekle by Dan Santat

Claymates by Dev Petty and Lauren Eldridge

After the Fall by Dan Santat





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