Catherine (Kitty) O’Reilly

Researcher | Trinity College Dublin | School of Education


PhD Research Project

Kitty is currently designing an educational intervention project focused on drawing out early critical thinking skills in young children. In this study, early critical thinking refers to children from age 3-5 ability to make sense of stories, reason and problem-solve. This project is titled, SCT (Storytelling for Critical Thinking) a Design-Based Research Educational Intervention.
There are three steps to this project:

1. Story Listening

In step 1, the children are engaged in story listening. The children sit together on a story mat and their educator tells a traditional oral story using voice, tone and gesture. For this project we do not use text, visual image or props. Instead, we focus on the connection made between the teller and the listeners. It is this connection, where the storyteller uses eye-contact and expressive language, that can capture the interest and imagination of the group.

2. Story Thinking & Talking

In step 2, story thinking and talking, the educator uses inquiry-based pedagogy to help children think deeply about the story. During this stage, the storyteller may ask, ‘Why did the Little Red Hen now share her corn?’. This question provides the opportunity for children to share their insights or suggest other ways the characters could have solved specific problems. It is during this step of the project that children’s thinking is challenged and they are encouraged to come up with new ways of thinking about the story.

3. Story Drawing

In step 3, story drawing, the children are invited to represent their understanding of the story by drawing a picture. When children draw they have the opportunity and time to think and reflect on what happened. When the drawing is complete the children verbalise what is happening in their picture. At this stage, children who may have chosen not to talk about the story with the whole group will have a second opportunity to tell the educator on a one-to-one what the story meant to them.


LearningALOUD is a communication platform for all discussions relented to Early Childhood Education and Care. We examine issues concerning education as it could be and education as it should be, during the early years of birth to six.

LearningALOUD Wexford, Ireland

Looking for an early childhood issue to be highlighted? Need some help understanding where to look for support and guidance regarding specific early educational issues?

LearningALOUD is a website designed to support children and families find answers to important topics that impact children growing up in Ireland and abroad.

The Goal

The LearningALOUD website is a not for profit research platform. It aims to give families a place where they can view topics related to early learning that can be adopted as resources in the home with children. Simple messages like ‘tell your child an oral story using only your words with help build caring relationship between the teller and the listener’ is a suggestion to parents/carers that is free and easy to try out for yourself.

Latest News

Dyslexia and Self-Esteem

2nd February 2024

Dyslexia is a word used to describe a learning disability that commonly affects reading, writing and related skills, such as the use of language, articulation and grammar. However, this blog will not examine reading, writing or language use. Instead, it highlights the impact of dyslexia on self-esteem. Understanding how dyslexia…...

Read More

The Socratic Method

12th September 2023

Teaching thinking in the classroom Socrates (c.470-399BCE), an early Greek philosopher and teacher, suggested: Thinking is enhanced not by answers but by questions Students learn best when supported to analyse and evaluate concepts Deep questions challenge our assumptions Educators must model intellectual inquiry To summarise a complex topic, all humans…...

Read More

Nurturing critical thinking in young children

23rd May 2023

Scéalta Blog In this week’s Scéalta, Catherine O’Reilly, PhD research student at Trinity College Dublin, discusses how critical thinking relates to early childhood and how we can use storytelling to give children in Early Years settings the same opportunities as older children to learn how to communicate, collaborate, be creative…...

Read More

What is Educational Research?

27th April 2023

Have you ever wondered how educators decide to teach the way they teach and why they use the practices they adopt in the classroom to support learning and development? There are many ways to answer this question; your answer will be influenced by your knowledge of the educational system and…...

Read More

Keeping up to date!

Exposure to books and stories and active participation in storytelling help children to make sense of their ever evolving world.

See more posts