Nature Alphabet

To investigate the formations of lower case letters, the SK students were invited to take their learning outdoors and collect as many ‘pieces of nature’ that they could find to collaborate and build all the lower case letters that they new.  As a teacher, there is little prep required for this provocation! Each student was given a brown paper bag to collect their materials and large pieces of white bristol board were laid down as our canvas.  As each letter was created it was photographed to be used later as our collective resource.  The students quickly took charge of their exploration, ensuring that no letters were missed.

How will we know that we have made all the letters? – K Student


We have to count! – K Student


No, We need a list! – K Student

The students were provided with the list of letters that they requested, and marked each letter as it was completed.  Together, they decided that if they duplicated letters they would review the pictures to choose the ones they liked best.  Once all of the letters had been built we moved back inside to decide on the pictures that would be displayed in our classroom.

This provocation allowed the students to take charge of their exploration and investigate lower case letter formations in an active and student-driven way.  Engaging students in this process allowed them to create a meaningful classroom resource to interact with in our space.

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The Gymnastics Alphabet

To provoke an interest in the way in which letters are formed, children are engaged in experiences that allow them to explore building letters using a variety of mediums.  Such provocations aim to inspire young learners to engage with letter formations in hands-on and meaningful ways.

The Gymnastics Alphabet

Alphabet Photography teamed with Gymnastics Canada to create a human alphabet and support them on their journey to the London 2012 Olympic games. Photographer Jennifer Blakeley  met with high profile Canadian gymnasts to shape their bodies into all 26 letters of the alphabet.  This alphabet was used to provoke student interest.

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Gymnastics_Alphabet – Click Here for Resouce

These images were printed and posted on the wall in our Senior Kindergarten classroom, responding to an interest in gymnastics that was observed in the play ground.  The students were eager to re-create a human alphabet featuring all 26 lower case letters.


The Best Part of Me

In kindergarten we continue to investigate aspects of our identity.  To provoke thinking we invite our students to participate in a variety of Identity Studies that aim to have students reflect on particular aspects of themselves, their families and their communities. Most recently each student was asked to think about what part of themselves they were most proud. The girls were excited to share their ideas and document their thinking through photographs. Identity studies are documented and made visible in our classroom envionment.


The best part of me is my eyes. Because I can look for anything I want. – K Student


The best part of my is my hair.  It is long and I can put it in a braid. – K Student


The best part of me is my heart. Because it gets me to love and wonder about stuff like playing and going in the bathtub. The things that make you happy. – K Student


The best part of me is my mouth because it gets me to smile. – K Student


The best part of me is my brain.  It gets me to think all of the stuff in my head. – K Student

The Hidden Alphabet

Read-alouds often act as rich provocations to inspire learning and push for thinking.

We regularly read a series of alphabet books that reinforce letters and sounds in meaningful ways and push children to think about their alphabet. A special bookshelf in the classroom “Book Nook,” containing alphabet books and replenished often, serves as a meaningful space for children to engage with their beginning understandings of letters and sounds.

One morning, we presented our students with a book entitled “The City ABC Book” by Zoran Milich.

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Upon completion of the read-aloud, one student looked above at the ceiling, and proudly exclaimed…

AN X!!!

The children were bewildered at this interesting find. A camera was given to this student who photographed the image and led a group around the classroom and school for mornings to come, in search of letters in their environment.

We want to find ALL the letters. – Kindergarten Student

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Can you guess the letters found in our environment?

Our favourite moment throughout this investigation occurred when a student decided to search for the “A.” She worked tirelessly to find it, looking under tables, in corners, at block arrangements, and so on. When it was suggested to her that she perhaps work to find another letter, one more simple to find, she simply dismissed the thought and persisted to search for “A.”

Shortly thereafter…


There, in the structure of our class easel, was the letter A. A great cheer and celebration ensued.


As a class, we worked together to find all of the letters of the alphabet, a “Hidden Alphabet” in our school environment, hung at the children’s level to engage with year round.

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Here are a few of our favourite alphabet books:

Animal Babies by Chuck Murphy

Animal Alphabet by Bert Kitchen

The Butterfly Alphabet by KJell Sandved

Wildflower ABC by Diana Pomeroy

From Albatross to Zoo by Patricia Borlenchi

Light Table Stories

The Light Table provides a unique opportunity for students to select, explore and intentionally arrange materials. Thoughtfully placing each inanimate object down on the illuminated surface, students are invited to create their desired image. Once satisfied with their completed piece, teachers engage with students to provoke thinking and invite students to orally explain their visual narrative.




We go to the beach and then we go swimming. After that we go back to the hotel. The orange ball of string is the sun. At the beach there is rocks, water, fish, and seaweed. The beige string all at the bottom is the sand. The rocks is where the hotel is. My family is inside. My dad is blue, then my mom, me, my sister, my big brother and the tiny one is my baby brother. – K Student



The fish got swept into the whirlpool by a big gust of wind. The jewels were thrown into the whirlpool by all of the people standing around to get the fish to hold onto them… to help them. But inside the whirlpool there are fish traps whirling around because the whirlpool wants all of the fish to stay inside. The fish cannot escape because there is sand that swirls and they can’t see the jewels. The fish whirl down all the way and no one can tell where they will go – K Student


In Kindergarten, we offer children the opportunity to complete self-portraits throughout the year. They usually complete 6 self-portraits on a piece of white paper. These pieces are a powerful tool for us as educators to observe the growth and development of each child.

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We display these in our halls for everyone to view. Each piece is dated and attached on top of the last one completed. This allows us to easily view the growth and development of each child.


Mirrors offer the chance for children to see what they look like and who they are becoming. This experience can be very captivating. Through looking at their features they begin to develop a sense of their identity. Through drawing themselves, we have the chance to see how they view themselves.


In addition to a traditional self-portraits that are completed with pencil and paper, we have offered a variety of other mediums for children to explore. As they transform these materials, they express their unique perspectives of how they view themselves.



Self-Portraits with Nature



Self-Portraits in Clay

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Found Materials

* please see source by clicking here to see our Pinterest page

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* please see source by clicking here to see our Pinterest page

See, Think, Wonder

See, Think, Wonder is a thinking routine we use often in our classroom to explore works of art, photographs, and other thought-provoking pieces. This routine comes from Harvard’s Project Zero: Making Thinking Visible, and it encourages children to make thoughtful observations and interpretations. Project Zero states that this routine “helps stimulate curiosity and sets the stage for inquiry.”

When we noticed that our students were consistently creating mazes using blocks in our Construction Centre, artful materials in our Production Centre, and outdoors using nature, we pondered ways in which to encourage our students to look even closer at the elements and criteria of mazes. After creating collaborative class mazes and placing photographs of mazes in the classroom, the See, Think, Wonder thinking routine was an effective way for us to allow our students to develop their abilities in observation, theorizing, and reasoning.


A photograph of a maze was placed on our projector, and students were asked: What do you see? What do you think about that? What does it make you wonder?

Here is an excerpt from the ensuing conversation:

I see different lines in different directions. ­– J

And there’s stops. If you go down there or there and here, you stop. – H

I think each line is a different path. – C

I see some patterns. There are parts that look the same. – E

I wonder if you go in the path, would you see colours like a rainbow? – O

I wonder if it starts here. – H

I wonder… how do you get to the end? – S

I wonder how you keep track of where you’ve gone and where you haven’t, because then you could go one way and you might go back to the start without knowing… – L

 This knowledge building conversation supported the students in thinking more deeply about a topic of interest to them, allowing them to be re-inspired to investigate mazes with a new lens. It also gave us as educators a window into what our students were thinking and wondering about, and supported us in providing further questions and provocations afterwards. Whether this routine is used near the beginning, middle or end of a project, it is sure to provoke thought and dialogue among our youngest learners.

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