During our hot week in Portland we enjoyed a week long exploration of water. Yes, I said it, water, in two different size tubs, with various plastic animals and other objects. What I observed was a constant curiosity, which was built on by adding new objects, increasing imaginative play, and testing properties through experimentation.
It began with water, dinosaurs, frogs, and other sea creatures. Then jewels were added.
AK- "Bee, look at the dinosaurs!"
Then pieces of wood were added, and the preschoolers began exploring the properties of the various objects and the water itself.
What happens when animals are placed on top of the wood?
Why do some of the objects float and some of them sink?
TLC- "This is a raft. Look they're sailing!"
What happens when the water is moved slowly... quickly? What are the animals made of?
AK- "The back is made of wood and the tail's made of plastic."
IO- "Wow, that's really blue!"
Why does water poured from a higher point make a bigger splash than water poured from a lower point?
SF- "Did you hear that Bee?" (Said as she poured water into the large tub of water)
Provocations can be simple, yet can become complex through a child's imaginative play, where experimentation occurs and discoveries are made. Through four days of a consistent water play set up, the preschoolers were able to fully explore the properties of the water, the tubs, and the various objects.
They set up a "swim class," made "boats" and a "ship," gave "pillows" for the animals to rest on, and created many other scenarios within each tub of water. This is what provocations are all about... keeping it simple so that children can enjoy the process of creating what they imagine.
"The way a child discovers the world constantly replicates the way science began. You start to notice what's around you, and you get very curious about how things work. How things interrelate. It's as simple as seeing a bug that intrigues you. You want to know where it goes at night; who its friends are; what it eats."
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