These four literacy provocations are simple ideas that you can replicate in your own home, to encourage a play-based, interest-led exploration of literary concepts.

stack of children's books on a table

By Laura Stewart |


Rainbow mark making

Salt in a tray is great for creating patterns, marks and letter formation and it is really cheap to buy! Try adding a coloured sheet of paper or patterned wrapping paper in the base of the tray for a fantastic effect. Items such as paintbrushes, sticks, cutlery can be used to create the marks with which will help build up finger strength.

Prompt idea: Try leaving this set up with a line drawn in the salt, and no verbal prompt, so the child can explore and discover in their own way.

Word building

These wooden Montessori style letters are beautiful and so lovely to use when building words. I love that the vowels and consonants are in different colours. I've printed off some CVC cards for inspiration. These ones have the image and word on but can be differentiated to the needs of your child. Try trickier words and then simple sentences for further activities.

Prompt idea: Can you make the words on the cards using these blue and red letters?

Key and lock rhyming

Have you come across the book Oi Frog? We have only recently discovered it and we love it! It's fantastic for focusing on rhyme and it's so funny. The book ties in nicely with this rhyming activity on animals. 

Prompt idea: Can you match together the words/pictures that rhyme to unlock the padlocks?

Children always seem so fascinated with keys and padlocks so this kept them concentrating for a while! It is pretty easy to set up using cheap padlocks and the cards are some I made.

Storytelling sensory play-dough

Almost any book can be teamed up with play dough and the benefits are fantastic. It's too irresistible to not join in yourself! This is a great way to introduce or support a book by inspiring children with ginger scented soft play dough, cutters, tools and loose parts. Play dough is so easy to make - the recipe I use requires no cooking. Why not talk about the characters whilst you're creating, getting them to describe the Gingerbread man by his appearance and personality.

Prompt idea: Which book character can we make from play dough? Which colours should we use?

What kinds of literacy provocations have you created in your home? Comment below, we'd love you to share.

Laura Stewart Mulberry Journal contributor

Laura Stewart


Laura is a home educating/unschooling mummy to a five year old daughter and three year old son in England. She is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and her children having a love of the outdoors. Laura is passionate about following her children's interests and loves setting up provocations to inspire them. She blogs here and is on Instagram @love_happiness_learning

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