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:

Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Consent(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) UNCRC(1) Painting(1) Competent(1) Maynooth(1) Reggio Children Network(1) transitions(9) Adoption(1) Challenges(1) Mud kitchens(1) Early Years(1) Treasure(1) Positivity(1) Albert Einstein(1) Children's Rights(1) Window(1) Routines(1) Norway(2) Independence(1) Potential(1) supportive environments(1) New Appointments(1) PIP(1) Valentine's Day(3) Syria(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Book Club(2) Through the looking glass(1) Frustrations(1) Story(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Training(2) The Jelly King(1) Visual Impairment(1) Investment(1) Funding(1) Buddies(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Upcycling(1) Maths(4) memories(1) San Minia(1) Arts(1) Weather(1) Teamwork(1) experience(1) Diversity(1) Policy(2) Research Seminar(1) Performing(1) eating(1) overhear(1) books(4) Biting(1) STEM(2) Titles(1) Sustainability(3) Liz Kerrins(1) Engineers Week(2) community(5) linc(1) Well-Being(6) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Mental Health(3) Exploring and Thinking(1) parents(5) Maria Montessori(1) Academic Skills(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Magnavacchi(1) Scéalta Blog(79) Frosty the Snowman(1) CPD(1) outdoor play(6) Cognitive development(1) Snakes(1) Seas Suas(1) Awards 2018(3) Learning Stories(7) Exclusion(1) Games(1) Santa(2) INTO(1) Kerry(1) Twitter(1) Sequins(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) listen(1) educating(1) christmas(8) Ceremony(1) Playdough(1) UN(1) Environment(2) Meal time(1) education(2) Trade Unions(1) play(29) Care routines(1) Grief(1) Thinking(1) Imagination(3) Inter-generational learning(1) Visitors(1) Plants(1) Iraq(1) Light table(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Wilenski(1) Wrapping paper(1) Stress(2) meals(3) Limerick(1) Change(1) Touch(1) Communications(1) Community involvement(1) Decision Making(1) Maynooth University(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) Exit interview(1) risk(2) Mount Everest(1) Ariana Pucci(1) MA(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Learning journals(1) National Awards 2018(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Obesity(1) Trigonometry(1) Breathing(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Vertical grouping(1) Celebrations(4) Traffic Lights(1) emotions(2) Penguins(1) preschool(2) maternity health(1) learning(15) Reggio(1) Prexit(1) listening(1) reading(4) First 5 strategy(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) budget(1) Engineering(2) Patterns(1) Cork(1) Inter-generational(1) Workforce(1) Mathematicians(1) University(1) Relaxation(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Storytelling(2) United Nations(1) Employee(1) Awards(2) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) pets(1) Children's Research Network(1) Giraffe(2) Awards 2019(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) NCCA(2) refugees(1) Facebook(1) bonds(1) Siolta blog(2) MECPI(1) Laugh(1) Brain(1) Graduation(1) Blocks(1) story time(1) Self Help Skills(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Qualifications(1) ReCreate(2) ECEC(1) Leargas(1) Mayo(1) Inclusion(3) Creative(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Fabric(1) outdoors(3) Eritrea(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Japan(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Pobal sector profile(1) Identity and Belonging(3) Time Out(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) risk assessment(1) SPICE Framework(1) Buddy Bench(1) Snacks(1) Children(1) GDPR(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Degree(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Performance Management(1) Mark Twain(1) Impact(1) scéalta(25) EECERA 2016(1) journey(1) Design(1) Advocacy(1) Playschool(1) Trade union(1) Laughter(1) Wendy Lee(2) role playing(1) CIT(1) Nutrition(1) grandchild(1) Thanks(1) Creativity(4) Malaguzzi(1) Primary School(2) Quality(3) RIE philosphy(1) Capable(1) Pen green(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Music(3) Síolta QAP(1) play stories(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) development(8) respect(4) Recycle(1) Sculptures(1) DCYA(4) Behaviour(3) Favouritism(1) curiosity(3) risky play(2) The Lullaby Book(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Exercise(1) Mantra(1) Socioemotional development(1) Easter(1) Arithmetic(1) Educators(1) Learning Story Awards(1) Bereavement(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Kilkenny(1) Online(1) Kids Own(1) Decisions(1) Death(1) Home Corner(1) Party(1) Sociodramatic play(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Orla Kenny(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Mixed age groups(2) educarer(1) Montessori(2) Plastic(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) outdoor space(3) NAEYC(1) Snack Time(1) dogs(1) Xbox(1) under 3's(3) worries(1) communication(4) Technology(2) Self-regulation(1) friendships(1) emotional environment(1) Síolta(98) Gardening(1) environments(1) Wonder(1) National Awards 2019(1) relationships(12) UD(1) First 5(1) Flowers(1) Meet the Members(1) Traditions(2) Shoes(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Childcare(2) early childhood educator(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Wesco(1) Mindfulness(2) Care-giving routines(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Craft(1) Universal Design(2) food(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Affordability(1) Map(1) Settling in(2) research(6) Communicating(1) Scents(1) Love(2) Event Guide(1) Administrative Burden(1) Budget 2018(1) Italy(1) Pobal(1) College(1) Professionalisation(4) Photographs(1) Gratitude(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Social Skills(1) Certificate(1) Maternity Leave(1) trust(2) dublin(2) Academics(1) Empathy(1) Inspirational(2) Line-ups(1) Magic(1) Magda Gerber(1) Feeding(1) Treasure Chest(1) Appreciation(1) Anxiety(2) interacting(2) ERASMUS+(3) science(3) Workplace Relations(3) Celebrate(1) Oireachtas(1) science week(2) social media(1) feisty(1) dining(1) Irish(1) Culture(2) Family(1) Dance(1) ECCE(6) Maths Week(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Running(1) Afghanistan(1) Trick or treat(1) Margy Whalley(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Exploring(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Autism(3) Interaction(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) National Pyjama Day(1) AsIAm(1) early years research(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Arlene Forster(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Jenga(1) Lego(2) curriculum(5) Halloween(2) child-centred approach(1) Smiles(1) AIM(2) Budget 2019(2) Interests(1) Graduate(1) Rituals(1) Time(1) Supernanny(1) Christmas Creativity(2) St. Patrick's Day(1) Early Years Educators(1) Winter(1) Builders(1) babies(6) Horizon 2020(1) Masterclass(2) Spiders(1) Family wall(1) EM Standing(1) Names(1) toddlers(3) Mo Scéal(1) TOY Programme(1) Loss(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) blog(28) Body Language(1) Workplace well-being(1) Childhood(1) mushrooms(1) Mealtimes(1) ears(1) Sweets(1) planning(1) Yoga(1) animals(2) baby room(1) Learning Story(1) ICBN(1) Sustainable(1) Our Little Seed(1) Queues(1) documentation(2) routine(2) Vietnam(1) Belonging(3) Thank you(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Interactions(1) Little Buddies(1) Fantasy play(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) dining experiences(1) IGL(1) Recycling(2) Shapes(1) Confident(1) Glitter(2) Sport(1) stories(2) National Holiday(1) Nonverbal(1) Child mental health(1) Aistear(103) Leprechauns(1) Health(1) Drawing(2) Motor neuron disease(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Self-Esteem(1) conversations(1) Identity(4) Engineering Ireland(1) Art(6) San Miniato(4) Early Learning and Care(1) Role play(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine