Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Outdoor Play: A Prayer for Mushroom Hill

Carol Duffy


Tuesday 02 August 2016

“Soon they discovered a very big hill with mushrooms growing all over it, and they very aptly named it “mushroom hill”.  Deansrath Family Centre winner of our Innovation in Outdoor Provision Award  shared with us their story of the children experiencing their local park. One part of their story refers to the hill. Images and stories mean different things to different people. I find myself really drawn to these images of outdoor play – why I wonder?

Malaguzzi’s hundred languages of children speaks to me, and as I look at this ritual of childhood I find myself smiling and finding a simple joy within. For when I look with my heart and my head I see willing athletes with endurance, innately pushing their breathless bodies to the top, for deep inside they know that the gain will outweigh any breathlessness they may endure.  Nature and evolution have conspired to get them to the top as they anticipate the exhilaration of running back down. I can almost hear their screams as they struggle to regain control, and stop.  Do you remember it? Starting off gingerly and then feeling an inside recklessness that turned into bravery that turned into competence. The feeling, the fun, the screams as you safely lost control of your speeding body. How you wrestled with gravity and every sinew to regain your balance and bring yourself to a stop - all so that you could quickly do it all over again. This is the stuff of childhood.


Look at them, look at the freedom, the space, look at the simplicity, yet the magnificence of it. These children are blissfully unaware that this is the stuff of physical development, of aerobic stamina and strength, of gaining confidence in their bodies’ abilities. Thankfully for them, this is the stuff of fun, of dreams, of imagination, of possibility. This is their time to be the conquerors of that hill, their time to wallow in the fun of it, to share the camaraderie of it. This is their time to be a child playfully exploring the wonders of their world. We adults of course may need to understand the developmental and learning outcomes this type of experience provides but for the sake of our children’s childhoods I pray we don’t forget what it truly means for them, what it truly means to be a child faced with all the possibilities of “Mushroom Hill”.


Thanks Deansrath for reminding me. My inner child awakened, I’m off right now to find myself a hill. Maybe you can join me and we’ll run and laugh like the years have never passed.

Take a look at our ideas for outdoor play page here, it is full of great ways to encourage children to play outdoors. 

We would love to hear your experiences of children in your settings enjoying the local park or outdoor space, or your memories from your own childhood. Please share in the comments section below. 

2 comments Comments

2 Responses

  1. Marlene McCormack says:

    Great piece! In reading this blog I can relive the sensations, joys and fears of running down hills as a child – I can feel it in my stomach. Of course I can also think about it as a Mum watching my children run and roll down the hill in Bushy Park, sometimes managing it and sometimes not. This is a timely reminder to afford children opportunities to rock and roll!

  2. Carol Duffy says:

    Thanks Marlene. When it comes to this type of play lets hope there is more roll than rock… You are spot on of course, those feelings in the pit of our stomachs are different depending on whether we are the child or the adult responsible for the child. Sometimes it’s not only the child that needs to start with a little hill, building up the adults (parents or educators)confidence to let go is just as important. Talking with the child about how one hill is better or safer than another gives the child knowledge and skill that they can then learn to use for themselves. Then we can all rock and roll together.

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

National Research Conference 2019(1) homeschool(1) Children's Rights(3) Horizon 2020(1) refugees(1) documentation(4) Easter(1) Learning Story(1) Mantra(1) democracy(1) Síolta(141) Belonging(3) experience(1) meals(3) Recycle(1) Youtube Series(1) Thinking(1) Communicating(1) Thanks(1) Exit interview(1) doodle families(1) play pod(1) NCCA(4) GDPR(1) Lego(2) responsive relationships(1) College(1) Afghanistan(1) Digital Devices(1) built environments(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Training(3) relationships(18) Masterclass(2) mushrooms(1) Sequins(1) Decisions(1) UNCRC(2) Death(2) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Time(1) Inspections(1) early childhood(1) emotional environment(2) ERASMUS+(3) MECPI(1) First 5 strategy(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) toddlers(3) Budget 2020(1) Arithmetic(1) Magnavacchi(1) Patterns(1) children development(1) emotions(2) annual awards(1) education system(1) preschools(1) Maths(6) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Valentine's Day(3) Names(1) Social Skills(1) Window(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Academic Skills(1) communication(4) Advocacy(1) conference(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) World book day(1) code of ethics(1) presentation skills(1) journey(1) Mayo(1) Albert Einstein(1) GoToMeeting app(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Limerick(1) Drawing(2) routine(2) Intention(1) Early Years Educators(3) show and tell(1) University(1) ICBN(1) Buddies(1) Autism(4) St. Patrick's Day(1) European Project(1) ECCE(7) Early Childhood Ireland(11) art of the relationship(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Empathy(1) Engineers Week(2) Jillian van Turnhout(1) childcare services(1) role playing(1) Inclusion(4) Administrative Burden(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Settling in(4) AsIAm(2) UN(1) feisty(1) Loss(1) Mount Everest(1) development(9) budget(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Nuturing interactions(1) overhear(1) Sessional service(1) Exclusion(1) worldbookday(1) Exploratory Play(1) Infectious diseases(1) Magda Gerber(1) Small World Play(1) Playschool(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Jenga(1) Dance(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Consent(1) pablo(1) risk(2) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) planning(1) Japan(1) Frustrations(1) Fire Safety(1) Children's Book Club(1) Online(1) Oireachtas(1) Decision Making(1) Children's Research Network(2) National Annual Awards 2020(1) PIP(1) Hand Hygiene(2) multi-generational community(1) Reggio Emilia(2) World Health Organisation(1) Smiles(1) Cognitive development(1) Pobal(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Biting(1) Home Corner(1) Children and families(2) Regulation 23(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Penguins(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Communications(1) scientific and artistic processes(1) Mathematicians(1) Titles(1) DES Inspection(1) Body Language(1) Painting(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Women(1) Favouritism(1) Kindness Challenge(1) Covid response(2) Scéalta Book Review(1) Ariana Pucci(1) TOY Programme(1) Elders(1) DCYA(6) Imagination(3) Spiders(1) Sculptures(1) curriculum(7) Infection Control(1) Competent(1) Sport(1) Mindfulness(3) learners(1) child-centric(1) Covid pandemic(3) National Pyjama Day(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Super Shed Stories(2) New Appointments(1) Self Help Skills(1) Staff Motivation(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Nutrition(1) COVID-19(18) Arts(1) Norway(2) Quality(4) Potential(1) Photographs(1) Stress(2) learning(19) Facebook(1) Leargas(1) educating(1) inspiring interactions(1) Kilkenny(1) Builders(1) dogs(1) play therapy(1) Rich Documentation(1) bloom app(1) aistear blog(4) Sleep(1) Qualifications(1) research submissions(1) CPD(1) annual conference(1) listen(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Looking Back(1) Snack Time(1) women in research(1) Sustainability(3) ReCreate(2) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Awards Night(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Flowers(1) HR(1) Children(8) Study Trip(1) EECERA 2016(1) emotional well-being(1) Aistear(132) Irish(1) Learning through Storytelling(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) online training(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) stories(3) Early Years Education(2) iOS(1) Digital(1) environments(2) Research Seminar(1) National Awards 2019(1) Affordability(1) COVID(3) Family(1) Halloween(2) Thank you(1) curiosity(3) Childhood Development Initiative(1) Time Out(1) Mental Health(4) Tuscan Approach(2) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Performance Management(1) Leadership(1) IGL(1) coronavirus(1) racism(1) UD(1) Xbox(1) Inspirational(2) Early Childhood Education(2) Primary School(3) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) maternity health(1) ECEC Setting(2) Pobal sector profile(1) Creative(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) Feeding(1) Workforce(1) friendships(1) memories(1) Through the looking glass(1) preschool(4) EM Standing(1) Document Learning(1) Exercise(1) baby room(1) democratic citizens(1) Self-regulation(1) United Nations(1) keezy(1) Queues(1) Universal Design(2) Relaxation(1) children’s learning(1) Interactions(3) Early Years(1) National Awards 2018(2) Covid19 crisis(1) Sustainable(1) Traffic Lights(1) peer group(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Frosty the Snowman(1) Awards 2019(1) Prexit(1) Kids Own(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Nordic model(1) transitions(10) pets(1) continual professional development(1) quarantine kids(1) ears(1) The Jelly King(1) Syria(1) child led(1) early childhood ireland research(1) Engagement(1) learning hub(2) Policy(2) Wonder(1) educarer(1) gender bias(1) Margy Whalley(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Celebrations(4) Iceland(2) behavioural science(1) early year’s classrooms(1) outdoor space(3) Malaguzzi(1) Inter-generational learning(2) science(3) Art(6) Culture(2) Pedagogy(2) Childhood(2) Academics(1) UK(1) Participation(2) play(37) books(5) Confident(1) child safeguarding(1) SAC(1) man up(1) EECERA(1) Craft(1) science week(2) structure(1) Kindness(1) Self-Esteem(1) Wendy Lee(4) timekeeping skills(1) Scéalta Blog(106) staying connected(1) guardian(1) The Lullaby Book(1) conversations(1) community(5) Performing(1) dining experiences(1) Mixed age groups(3) Map(1) Loving Relationships(2) Appreciation(1) TRAP(1) AIM(2) Maria Montessori(1) Recycling(2) Your place(1) Party(1) Diversity(2) Seanchaí(1) Support(1) Giraffe(2) Community involvement(1) worries(1) Budget 2019(2) Games(2) Workplace well-being(1) animals(2) Building Resilience(1) Scents(1) CIT(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Reflective Practice(1) Kerry(1) babies(7) subject knowledge(1) reading(6) Return to Work Training(1) Plastic(1) Our Little Seed(1) Role play(1) early years settings(1) research(8) RIE philosphy(1) dolly parton library(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Awards(2) Gratitude(1) Challenges(1) Counting(1) Weather(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Irish guidelines(1) QRF(1) Line-ups(1) Blocks(1) Seas Suas(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) early childhood educator(2) Growing up Outdoors(2) Interaction(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Europe(1) Adoption(1) Meal time(1) Wesco(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) natural environment(2) Valerie Gaynor(1) NAEYC(1) Visitors(1) early years learning(1) Book Review(1) Change(1) preschool settings(1) Storytelling(8) education(2) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) CCTV(1) lockdown(1) developing motor skills(1) Grief(1) Italy(1) Online Research Symposium(3) Funding(1) Winter(1) Gardening(1) upskilling(1) playleader(1) Fantasy play(1) purpose(1) Upcycling(1) Laugh(1) early years research(3) Santa(2) SPICE Framework(1) Reggio(1) early life(1) blog(60) International Narratives(1) Croatia(1) value(1) Proceedings Journal(1) Unesco(1) Shapes(2) gender stereotype(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Equality(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Twitter(1) Nonverbal(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Brain(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Well-Being(10) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) partnership(1) Confidence(1) creche(1) Magic(1) UK Government(1) Degree(1) Dolly Partons Imagination Library(1) Environment(2) Budget 2018(1) Interests(1) Wrapping paper(1) Learning Stories(9) Rituals(1) Shoes(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Looking Forward(1) Trade Unions(1) Ceremony(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Exploring and Thinking(1) Buddy Bench(1) Vertical grouping(1) Whole Group(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Health(2) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Glitter(2) Running(1) food(1) Celebrate(1) Treasure(1) Maynooth(1) life long learning(1) Treasure Chest(1) Anthony Semann(1) Mealtimes(1) Design(1) risky play(2) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Identity(5) Event Guide(1) Workplace Relations(3) Liz Kerrins(1) Vietnam(1) Routines(2) nutritional learning(1) Human Resources(1) Trick or treat(1) Touch(1) interacting(2) under 3's(3) Teamwork(1) dining(1) outdoors(4) Mo Scéal(1) Children's Voice(1) Trigonometry(1) San Miniato(4) Reopening Childcare(1) Trade union(1) Christmas Creativity(2) christmas(9) Opportunities(1) Visual Impairment(1) Music(3) dublin(2) RTE Investigates(1) june29(1) Mud kitchens(1) story time(2) Positivity(1) play pods(2) Inter-generational(2) Mark Twain(1) bonds(1) an post(1) Child Care(1) healthy eating policies(1) First 5(1) Summer(2) Childcare(3) apps for children(1) learning bias(1) scéalta(61) Creativity(7) mental health problems(1) Orla Kenny(1) Maths Week(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) School Age Childcare(2) National Holiday(1) quarantine(2) Impact(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) imotion(1) Care-giving routines(1) Supernanny(1) LINC Programme(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Obesity(1) Síolta QAP(1) Pretend Play(1) ELC(1) Maynooth University(2) Love(3) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Professionalisation(5) reopening(1) Learning Stories Award(3) E.coli(1) Fee Play(1) youdoodle(1) Child mental health(1) outdoor play(7) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) trust(4) MA(1) Technology(3) Inspiring Practice(1) UNICEF report(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) social media(2) Sweets(1) family time(1) Arlene Forster(1) Investment(2) outdoor environment(1) Story(2) movement behaviours(1) Large Doll Play(1) respect(5) Little Buddies(1) Eritrea(1) social media policy(1) INTO(1) Graduate(1) Engineering(3) Pen green(1) TUSLA(1) Fabric(1) primary education(1) Capable(1) Snacks(1) Yoga(1) collaboration(1) Employee(1) Certificate(1) Breathing(2) Family wall(1) Maternity Leave(1) Snakes(1) Siolta blog(8) Learning journals(1) social science(1) Anxiety(2) listening(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Early Learning and Care(2) Socioemotional development(1) Behaviour(3) play stories(2) grandchild(1) Wilenski(1) Reading Time(2) Together Old and Young Programme(1) eating(1) Graduation(1) Learning Journal(2) Meet the Members(1) Light table(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Traditions(2) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Exploring(1) Cork(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) linc(2) Plants(1) awards 2020(1) Bereavement(2) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) risk assessment(1) Leprechauns(1) Awards 2018(3) parents(7) child-centred approach(1) Skillnet(1) Independence(1) Care routines(1) partnership with families(1) STEM(3) Iraq(1) Book Club(2) ECEC(4) Return to Work(1) Educators(2) doodle den(1) reopening ireland(1) Montessori(3) Pre-School Services(1) Playdough(1) ECIAwards20(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) STEAM(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) keep in touch(1) Engineering Ireland(1) supportive environments(2) Laughter(1) phone apps(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine