Dr Catherine (Kitty) O’Reilly

Research Fellow in the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin

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.

About LearningALOUD

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.

Keeping Up to Date

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