Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder

Carol Duffy


Tuesday 09 May 2017

As I scanned the garden I was struck by the “state” of the place. I pondered how earlier in my life I might have been perturbed about what I was looking at. A natural space not as nature may have intended, but as what it can become when it is a loved place of play. The long sliver of overgrown grass and weeds that sprang out all around the boundary fence offered greenness and height. It had attracted three boys who were sniping the weeds with the arts and crafts scissors. I had watched them walk outside scissors in hand, possibilities in mind and decisions to make, intuitively knowing that a wrong one would mean the loss of the scissors. Clever decision I thought as they headed for the overgrowth causing no harm to anyone except the poor weeds. This narrow band of green gave way to a bald island of hardened clay that told a story of greener days, a story of a favourite place to play, worn away by the feet and hands of energetic children as they lay, ran, rolled and dug on it. The piles of pipes, poles, and tyres stashed in the corner looked like something on a ghost estate, except here the children were playing all over it busy with their own ideas about building. Suddenly I was distracted from my thoughts as a pair of blue eyes danced with excitement before me. Their owner a 3-year-old boy carrying a gift eagerly awaited my attention. ”Look, Carol I made this for you”. He beamed up at me his face streaked with the mud that hadn’t quite made it into the overflowing coagulating mass of gunge that was being offered with such pride.  As usual the mud kitchen was a hive of activity with the emergent bakers churning out decorated delicacies of varying consistency and size. I watched as the pot of gunge ominously teetered on the plywood range until it lost its fight with gravity and spilled down the front of the stirring chef. This episode brought much laughter and no drama as the waterproof suits once again done their job. The spill brought new opportunities to mess with the muddy ground and direct the stream of water around an upturned pot that by chance was in the way.

Heavy duty digging was going on in the sand pit “we’re making a swimming pool, we need a big hole” shouts a confident voice.  At the far end of the sand pit the experts were at play, Sean the son of a builder knew a thing or two, he and his cousin Sarah had made mortar in the wheelbarrow with sand and water. They were now placing it along the lines of bricks they had laid out so professionally it would make his father proud.

Over in the quieter corner three children painted their masterpieces on the giant Perspex partition chatting to each other about their creations. The twins, were gathering “pretty stones” from the beech pebble pit to use as money in the game of shop they were planning.

Behind the bamboo bushes two pals were on an insect hunt huddled together examining the baby snails who weren’t there yesterday.

A skid of sliding feet again demanded my attention as a bike was expertly stopped right at my feet more smiling eyes greeted my glance and in the trailer on the bike a squashed bunch of daisies, dandelions and buttercups were offered as the flowers for the lunch table. So, hand in hand my young nature lover and I stepped around the impromptu small world Zoo that was being created on the path as we went to find a vase.

What a sight this must be to unaccustomed eyes, an unkempt space, a building site, an untidy mess, and yet to me and the children who play and learn here whether in sunshine, rain, or wind it is a place of many beauties:  the beauty of a childhood being lived, the beauty of freedom and space, of play and friendships.  A beauty that is indeed in the eye of the Beholder. 

If you want to see and hear of such places why not come along to our Outdoor Conference in Dublin Castle on Saturday 13th May or NUIG Galway on Wednesday 17th May 2017.


Further Reading

For more on the outdoors have a look at our previous blog posts Child’s Play – Risky Business and Outdoors – Simply Spectacular.

1 comments Comments

One Response

  1. Dr. Carmel Brennan says:

    Thank you Carol for painting the picture, telling the story and connecting us to the power of play. Isn’t it great that these children know what they want to do and why they want to do it and don’t need us to tell them what they’re learning. I’m reminded of Aldo Fortunati’s theory that all they need is trust, opportunity and time (TOT).

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Trauma-Sensitive(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Teamwork(1) Names(1) Weather(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) GDPR(1) Laugh(1) San Miniato(4) Albert Einstein(1) art of the relationship(1) Mathematicians(1) memories(1) experience(1) Buddies(1) stories(3) Early Childhood Ireland(10) National Research Conference 2019(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Educators(2) Ceremony(1) Home Corner(1) College(1) GoToMeeting app(1) refugees(1) Prexit(1) Trigonometry(1) Reading Time(1) Dance(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Easter(1) Line-ups(1) Mealtimes(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Games(1) Síolta(137) Exploring and Thinking(1) documentation(4) Learning Story(1) Time Out(1) Early Years Education(1) Children's Rights(3) Intention(1) EECERA(1) Maternity Leave(1) Health(2) STEM(3) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Equality(1) Xbox(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Identity(5) Ariana Pucci(1) Leargas(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Twitter(1) Afghanistan(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) dublin(2) Trade Unions(1) creche(1) Supernanny(1) RIE philosphy(1) children’s learning(1) Flowers(1) communication(4) Scents(1) gender bias(1) ears(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) COVID-19 landscape(1) Reggio(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Mo Scéal(1) learning hub(1) Children and families(1) Buddy Bench(1) Learning Stories(9) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) mental health problems(1) Graduate(1) movement behaviours(1) Quality(4) Aldo Fortunati(4) ERASMUS+(3) bonds(1) Certificate(1) TRAP(1) value(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) toddlers(3) Diversity(1) Socioemotional development(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Reflective Practice(1) Belonging(3) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Decision Making(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) collaboration(1) Imagination(3) CCTV(1) Early Years(1) Siolta blog(8) Arithmetic(1) Learning Journal(2) Glitter(2) an post(1) family time(1) Story(2) SPICE Framework(1) Care routines(1) risk assessment(1) Fabric(1) TOY Programme(1) Trade union(1) Decisions(1) Winter(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Italy(1) Recycling(2) Snacks(1) Thanks(1) healthy eating policies(1) Awards(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) lockdown(1) Digital Devices(1) Pobal sector profile(1) gender stereotype(1) reopening ireland(1) CIT(1) awards 2020(1) Valentine's Day(3) linc(1) Qualifications(1) early years learning(1) Summer(1) Infection Control(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) parents(6) educating(1) Investment(2) Social Skills(1) Childcare(3) Mindfulness(3) keezy(1) children development(1) DES Inspection(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) listening(1) AsIAm(2) Primary School(3) Looking Back(1) Magic(1) reading(5) Workplace Relations(3) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Loving Relationships(2) continual professional development(1) Cognitive development(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Jenga(1) relationships(18) Masterclass(2) Reggio Emilia(2) Routines(2) Learning through Storytelling(1) Love(3) Department of Education and Skills(1) science week(2) man up(1) Biting(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Fee Play(1) Appreciation(1) educarer(1) routine(2) Party(1) Reggio Children Network(1) social science(1) ICBN(1) Interactions(3) ECEC(3) PIP(1) RTE Investigates(1) Sequins(1) Super Shed Stories(2) preschool(4) food(1) AIM(2) role playing(1) education system(1) Exit interview(1) Light table(1) development(8) playleader(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Motor neuron disease(1) MA(1) Sport(1) early childhood(1) Book Club(2) Photographs(1) Return to Work Training(1) developing motor skills(1) reopening(1) conference(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Inspirational(2) Identity and Belonging(4) phone apps(1) curiosity(3) Independence(1) Employee(1) Document Learning(1) childcare services(1) Syria(1) Grief(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Brain(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Plastic(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Awards 2019(1) Trick or treat(1) Drawing(2) Queues(1) Adoption(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) story time(2) worries(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Giraffe(2) Covid19 crisis(1) baby room(1) Mount Everest(1) Anthony Semann(1) Shoes(1) Workforce(1) emotional environment(2) Through the looking glass(1) Autism(4) Spiders(1) Margy Whalley(1) Facebook(1) eating(1) Iceland(1) meals(3) keep in touch(1) Counting(1) Early Years Educators(3) respect(5) Limerick(1) under 3's(3) Interaction(1) social media(2) show and tell(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Santa(2) child-centred approach(1) Pen green(1) Shapes(2) scéalta(56) Mark Twain(1) Loss(1) planning(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Gardening(1) Fantasy play(1) Sculptures(1) maternity health(1) coronavirus(1) Inter-generational(2) Small World Play(1) play pod(1) Online(1) Degree(1) preschool settings(1) Looking Forward(1) E.coli(1) Graduation(1) Kilkenny(1) National Pyjama Day(1) racism(1) Visual Impairment(1) First 5(1) early life(1) june29(1) Awards Night(1) Snakes(1) Mud kitchens(1) Behaviour(3) Gratitude(1) Research Seminar(1) outdoors(4) youdoodle(1) Sessional service(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Plants(1) trust(4) The Jelly King(1) life long learning(1) Painting(1) Titles(1) Workplace well-being(1) ECIAwards20(1) friendships(1) Vertical grouping(1) structure(1) Leprechauns(1) imotion(1) Communications(1) Budget 2020(1) Iraq(1) play pods(2) Learning Story Awards(2) Large Doll Play(1) christmas(9) Community involvement(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Child mental health(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Pretend Play(1) pets(1) Engineering(3) Halloween(2) transitions(10) apps for children(1) SAC(1) Confident(1) Self Help Skills(1) Human Resources(1) Awards 2018(3) Engineers Week(2) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Training(2) Magda Gerber(1) Creativity(6) outdoor environment(1) Lego(2) Hand Hygiene(2) Impact(1) Our Little Seed(1) Affordability(1) Map(1) National Awards 2019(1) Child Care(1) Whole Group(1) Advocacy(1) Craft(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Magnavacchi(1) Administrative Burden(1) feisty(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) DCYA(6) Performing(1) Eritrea(1) Inspiring Practice(1) Covid response(2) Little Buddies(1) Childhood(1) Participation(2) budget(1) Seas Suas(1) Budget 2018(1) animals(2) Study Trip(1) Oireachtas(1) Event Guide(1) Technology(3) Traditions(2) Vietnam(1) Well-Being(10) Academics(1) Irish(1) Engineering Ireland(1) code of ethics(1) Recycle(1) European Project(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Professionalisation(5) Self-Esteem(1) Yoga(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Environment(2) National Holiday(1) Digital(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) overhear(1) Consent(1) multi-generational community(1) New Appointments(1) Meal time(1) Builders(1) Sleep(1) annual conference(1) NCCA(3) INTO(1) Pobal(1) Playschool(1) dining(1) mushrooms(1) Montessori(3) Upcycling(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Family(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Building Resilience(1) grandchild(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Patterns(1) journey(1) Snack Time(1) UN(1) Christmas Creativity(2) listen(1) Proceedings Journal(1) democracy(1) Maynooth University(2) Wilenski(1) ELC(1) Favouritism(1) Maynooth(1) Wesco(1) Online Research Symposium(1) Feeding(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) purpose(1) child-centric(1) interacting(2) Book Review(1) Exploring(1) Pre-School Services(1) Learning journals(1) play(35) environments(1) Thank you(1) COVID-19(14) Maths Week(1) Penguins(1) inspiring interactions(1) learning bias(1) pablo(1) EM Standing(1) Competent(1) Rich Documentation(1) Mental Health(4) Window(1) Obesity(1) Leadership(1) Challenges(1) Inspections(1) Budget 2019(2) Children(4) Engagement(1) Wonder(1) Breathing(2) iOS(1) Traffic Lights(1) Exploratory Play(1) online training(1) Support(1) Exercise(1) bloom app(1) research(6) Maths(6) Your place(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Irish guidelines(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) supportive environments(2) Music(3) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Scéalta Blog(104) COVID-19 Reopening(2) aistear blog(3) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Wrapping paper(1) Kindness Challenge(1) University(1) Arts(1) Blocks(1) Inclusion(3) National Awards 2018(2) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Confidence(1) Celebrations(4) Thinking(1) Cork(1) Youtube Series(1) UD(1) ECCE(7) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) UNCRC(2) play stories(2) Potential(1) Kerry(1) Smiles(1) Wendy Lee(3) behavioural science(1) CPD(1) Policy(2) Seanchaí(1) International Narratives(1) Treasure(1) curriculum(5) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Time(1) emotional well-being(1) ECEC Setting(2) Interests(1) First 5 strategy(1) Sustainability(3) Positivity(1) education(2) emotions(2) Children's Voice(1) MECPI(1) NAEYC(1) dining experiences(1) Nonverbal(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Celebrate(1) Academic Skills(1) code of professional responsibility(1) annual awards(1) Stress(2) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Self-regulation(1) Exclusion(1) Maria Montessori(1) staying connected(1) Anxiety(2) Infectious diseases(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) dogs(1) Frustrations(1) Body Language(1) Change(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Care-giving routines(1) EECERA 2016(1) Meet the Members(1) risky play(2) Mayo(1) Kids Own(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) responsive relationships(1) Sustainable(1) Japan(1) Opportunities(1) Covid pandemic(2) Children's Research Network(1) Nutrition(1) early years research(2) Laughter(1) Elders(1) United Nations(1) Rituals(1) outdoor space(3) outdoor play(6) Mantra(1) science(3) Research Conference 2019(1) Art(6) Norway(2) Sweets(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Malaguzzi(1) Relaxation(1) learning(19) Running(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) babies(7) Funding(1) democratic citizens(1) community(5) Pedagogy(2) Sociodramatic play(1) Playdough(1) early childhood educator(2) Mixed age groups(3) peer group(1) Arlene Forster(1) Bereavement(2) National Annual Awards 2020(1) research submissions(1) Communicating(1) early years settings(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Storytelling(7) Family wall(1) Horizon 2020(1) HR(1) Culture(2) conversations(1) Kindness(1) Staff Motivation(1) Death(2) risk(2) Covid-19 lockdown(1) School Age Childcare(1) Performance Management(1) play therapy(1) ReCreate(2) UNICEF report(1) Visitors(1) Touch(1) Aistear(130) Orla Kenny(1) Empathy(1) World Health Organisation(1) Síolta QAP(1) Design(1) Universal Design(2) Creative(1) blog(53) books(4) Settling in(4) quarantine(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) social media policy(1) Treasure Chest(1) IGL(1) primary education(1) Early Childhood Education(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Capable(1) learners(1) Role play(1) Early Learning and Care(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine