STEM-based provocations for early years settings
A provocation in the classroom is something that stimulates a response or action. It is based on children’s interests and curiosity. We love play based learning and storytelling on this site and STEAM based provocations seemed like a fantastic next step.
A Sensory lesson plan for exploring The Three Little Pigs
One way to creatively engage young minds is through multidisciplinary story-inspired provocations. Recently at our youngest’s nursery, they explored the classic tale “The Three Little Pigs” using open-ended materials tapping various skills, I shamelessly took this idea and used it in class.
To set the stage, they read the story to the class and showed key illustrations from the book. They brainstormed together about the characters, setting and events – generating questions that could be investigated through play.
Next, they worked independently or collaboratively based on emerging interests. Using stations based on tuff trays or resources on the tables they placed lots of engaging loose parts and other tactile teaching resources.
- Clay of different textures for building houses
- Loose hay/straw, sticks, bricks for choosing construction materials
- Play tools like mini saws and hammers for building
- Fan to “blow” houses down
- Masks for role play
Several learners engaged in role play re-telling the story. Others experimented constructing houses of varying strength. Some tested structural integrity by blowing on houses or adding weight. Finished creations were proudly displayed, then added to, then incorporated into other play
Throughout free exploration time, the staff were quite hands-off just prompting with thoughtful questions, offering vocabulary and scaffolding engineering skills. These activities linked themes in the story and key narrative elements “I’ll huff and I’ll puff” could be heard throughout the room.
Children remain deeply engaged with this open-ended, play-based approach tapping various skills through a shared experience. STEAM provocations like this spark natural curiosity while meeting all developmental needs.
Lesson Plan: Three Little Pigs STEAM Provocation
Here is an example lesson plan for the Three Little Pigs sensory STEAM experience, including some suggested EFYS learning outcomes:
Age Group: 3-4 years
Duration: 60 minutes
- Children will explore and retell key events from the story through play (Literacy)
- Children will independently experiment with open-ended building materials (Creativity, Problem-solving)
- Children will be supported to investigate structural strength of different materials (Scientific thinking)
- Fine motor skills will be developed through use of tools (Physical development)
- Collaboration and social skills may emerge through group play (PSED)
Introduction (10 mins)
- Read Three Little Pigs storybook to class, asking recall questions
- Discuss character, setting, events and generate investigation ideas
Free Exploration (30 mins)
- Invite children to STEAM provocation tables with open-ended materials
- Suport children in using materials creatively and asking questions
- Encourage testing, predicting and problem-solving
Tidying Up (5 mins)
- Help children pack away sensibly when finished
Sharing (10 mins)
- Invite children to share what they made/discovered
- Point out any new vocabulary or skills observed
- Relate back to story themes and STEAM
Evaluation: Observe level of engagement, questioning skills and emerging literacy, maths and science understandings. Adapt support as needed for next session. Share observations with families.
Additional Resources: Clay, loose materials, small tools, story props, observation sheets.