2014 Winning Learning Stories

  December Joint Winner The Same but Different St. Clare’s Preschool, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6   What makes us the same and what makes us different?? Josephs understanding of twins was that they looked the same. Yet his friends Evie and Freya are definitely twins but don’t look alike! The discussion led to the children […]

2014 Winning Learning Stories


December Joint Winner

The Same but Different

St. Clare’s Preschool, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6

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What makes us the same and what makes us different?? Josephs understanding of twins was that they looked the same. Yet his friends Evie and Freya are definitely twins but don’t look alike! The discussion led to the children doing self-portraits and discovering that mixing all the same colours but in different ratios provides for the different skin tones, hair colours and eye colours – making us all the same but different!


December Joint Winner

A rainy day in the toddler room

Nurture Childcare and Early Learning Centre, Cork

Rainy Day  

This story shows us how easy it is to engage toddlers in a science lesson! Because the children are afforded opportunities to play in the rain on a regular basis, evidenced by their joy at going out in the rain and their ability to don their wet gear with such independence, they all got straight into messy play as soon as they went outdoors. Splashing in the puddles they noticed their reflections and so the science lesson began. Neither age nor weather should be a barrier to children learning in the way they do best as this learning story confirms.


November Winner

The Enormous Turnip

The Park School, Donegal

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Autumn is here and so is harvest time. These children re-enact The Enormous Turnip story to harvest their very own pumpkin! There is a lot to figure out! First there is pulling the pumpkin and then there is transporting it. How will they do all this?? Well… the Glenswilly way of course!


October Winner

Our Road Safety Journey

Tiggers Playhouse, Swords.

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Stemming from Alex’s interest in the bendy bus, the local traffic warden came to visit and from there the children created their own small world road game. These children started to put into practice, both in the small world game to their outdoor play, all that they learned through the traffic wardens visit to the service.


September Winner

Boxes Learning Story

The Trees Montessori, Carlow

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The educators had an idea and introduced boxes to help the children with this… however the children had a different idea! Through a bit of teamwork, the boxes were quickly converted to become the petrol pumps required to extend and sustain their dominant interest, which turned out to be more about petrol stations than fire stations! Being able to explore and think and be creative is not an issue for the children in this learning story! They brought everything they know about different fuels and how they are dispensed to the game and through a sharing of knowledge, all of the children became more informed.


August Winner

Sharing a Love for Numbers

Beverton Preschool, Donabate

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Darcie had discovered numbers and was constantly engaging in number play. The educator noticed Darcie’s interest in numbers. She recognised this provided an opportunity to incorporate numeracy activities into their play. She responded by looking at their daily and weekly activities and using these to draw the children’s attention to how numbers are incorporated naturally into our daily lives.


July Winner

Ladybirds and Nature

Cheeky Cherubs Early Years School, Ballincollig, Cork

Untitled-5 copy   These toddlers were outside playing in the garden when they came across the some ladybirds. The educators noticed the toddlers fascination in the ladybirds. They recognised the opportunity this provided for them to explore nature in greater depth. They responded to this interest by engaging in various activities that would reinforce the toddler’s knowledge of the world around them. They provided opportunities for them to discover what it was like to feel the ladybirds on their skin; what it felt to explore the soil with their hands and their feet; to feel the texture of flowers and leaves, all of which enhanced the toddler’s sensory development.

June Winner

Making the Transition to Big School an Exciting Time

Sunflower Playgroup/creche , Capparoe, Nenagh,Co. Tipperary

learning story copy   Preparing the children to make the big move from preschool to school is something that many educators spend quite a lot of time working on. In this learning story the children were discussing what clothes they would have to wear in school and between them the idea of a fashion show with school uniforms was born. The uniforms from the various schools were modelled, following which they took up residence on the dressing up rail! This is a novel and fun way of supporting the children in their preparation for the ending of their preschool days and their move into ‘big’ school.

May Winner

May Day in Stepping Stones Early Learning Centre

Stepping Stones Early Learning Centre, Ballinahown, Athlone, Co. Offaly


  Making a May bush was a popular tradition in some areas of the country particularly around the Midlands. In this learning story the educator began to chat to the children about what she used to do on the 1st of May when she was a child. Following on from the conversation, all of the children became interested in learning more about it and then making their own May bush. Read on the see how another May day tradition led them to attempting to capture eternal youth!



April Winner


Appleseeds Preschool and Afterschool, Applewood Community Centre, Swords

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The weather was the source of this learning story. Looking outdoors at the snow and ice the children’s curiosity was aroused. The children began to make ‘pretend’ snow but that didn’t solve their inquisitiveness – after all the pretend snow didn’t melt in your hand! Pursuing this line of enquiry the educators froze trays of ice and the children began to experiment, bringing all of their knowledge on frost and ice to the play. Their curiosity brought them from the ice through to animals through to discussions on how to save our planet!



March Winner

Up, Up and Away

Early Days, Montessori Playgroup, Kilmeague, Naas, Co. Kildare

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Every year on the approach to the holiday period many children begin to include travel, planes and airports in their play. They each share their existing knowledge and experience of travel and airports and through this, learn more and form new ideas and concepts. In this learning story we see how the initial interest Darren expressed in flying was followed up on and extended into a large project that included all the children. We see how the children expressed their knowledge through their hundred languages: discussing, drawing, crafting, using playdoh to name but a few. The end result was a plane to be used as a resource that would continue to support and extend the children’s play for some time to come!


February Joint Winner

Our Farming Journey – Exploring our Farming Community Together

Happy Days, Ballyporeen, Co. Tipperary

LS3 copy   Lots of the children in this preschool had a common bond – they lived on farms and had a wealth of knowledge about farms and farming practices. They shared what they knew about the animals – like the bull with the ‘dodi on this nose’ who ‘puts cows and calves into the cows because that’s his job!’ As all of the children became involved in this line of enquiry, many brought new props into the preschool to support and extend play such as hay, straw, some animal feeds and even the tractor paid a visit! The children decided to build their own tractor and with a large box, and a pot of blue paint (because everyone knows New Holland tractors are blue!) the building got underway. This journey took the group through lots of other lines of enquiry and finished up with a barn dance for the children and their parents.

February Joint Winner

The Afterschool Young Scientist Exhibition by The ‘Wise Owl Afterschool Club’

ABC Childcare, Forthill, Moneygurney, Maryborough Hill, Cork

LS2 copy   Having spotted some teenagers on the TV speaking about the Young Scientist Exhibition, this afterschool group decided to hold their very own Young Scientist competition. They divided up into ‘science teams’, selected experiments and allocated each group a demonstration day. Then each team had to carry out the experiment to demonstrate it to the rest of the group. Between turning their money green and experimenting with gravity and water, this group of children explored science in the best way possible. Much better than sitting at a table doing homework!

February Joint Winner

Where Does The Water Go?

Brigids Montessori, Duleek, Co. Meath

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This simple learning story follows Niamh’s curiosity about where the water goes when it leaves the sink…. she wanted to know what happens once it goes down that plughole! To follow her line of enquiry, her keyworker helped her to follow the pipes through the building to where it went into the shore outside. Then Niamh was given an opportunity to learn how to filter water before she took an opportunity to share her learning with her friend.

A great example of how a simple line of enquiry can be followed and shared.


January Winner

Expanding Outdoor Learning in the Sandbox

Bansha Preschool, Tipperary

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What do we do when the sandpit gets flooded?? If we are wise…. we stand back and see what the children will do with it!
This is what happened in Bansha preschool after the Christmas rain. The sandpit was full of water and before the adults got a chance to empty it out, the children dived in and a whole new play theme emerged. There were waterfalls, islands and even chocolate syrup being created with the watery sand.

This outdoor play also afforded the children an opportunity to extend their indoor play as they related the new knowledge they learned in the sandpit to their road play indoors.

Design & Development