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:

Celebrations(4) Drawing(2) reopening ireland(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) STEM(3) Nonverbal(1) Treasure(1) Well-Being(10) Annual Conference 2019(1) Support(1) Gratitude(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Storytelling(6) Treasure Chest(1) Communications(1) Hand Hygiene(2) Mantra(1) Eritrea(1) Traffic Lights(1) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Sculptures(1) june29(1) Buddies(1) Kilkenny(1) parents(6) Engineering Ireland(1) curiosity(3) Time Out(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Communicating(1) Easter(1) Competent(1) First 5 strategy(1) Party(1) Academic Skills(1) Santa(2) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Gardening(1) Fabric(1) HR(1) conversations(1) Frustrations(1) early years research(2) Grief(1) Plants(1) Twitter(1) Lego(2) scéalta(41) movement behaviours(1) Body Language(1) art of the relationship(1) Italy(1) ECEC(3) E.coli(1) outdoors(4) early childhood educator(2) stories(3) books(4) Pre-School Services(1) RTE Investigates(1) RIE philosphy(1) Identity(5) Ariana Pucci(1) Inter-generational(2) Xbox(1) Scents(1) Inspirational(2) blog(37) Social Skills(1) refugees(1) Celebrate(1) emotions(2) Time(1) journey(1) Patterns(1) National Awards 2018(2) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Glitter(2) developing motor skills(1) Budget 2019(2) Family wall(1) Engineering(3) Empathy(1) annual conference(1) Document Learning(1) Community involvement(1) Magda Gerber(1) science week(2) Playschool(1) outdoor space(3) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Favouritism(1) Laugh(1) Child mental health(1) Diversity(1) Learning Journal(2) risk(2) Summer(1) UNCRC(2) AIM(2) Pedagogical leaders(1) Administrative Burden(1) Degree(1) Magic(1) Brain(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Self-regulation(1) Mathematicians(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Seas Suas(1) Iraq(1) Inspections(1) Relaxation(1) Sustainable(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Snack Time(1) Budget 2020(1) educarer(1) interacting(2) Primary School(2) Stress(2) man up(1) Map(1) Covid response(1) Exercise(1) Staff Motivation(1) Digital Devices(1) Names(1) play pods(1) Maths Week(1) play stories(2) overhear(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Facebook(1) AsIAm(2) Oireachtas(1) Children(4) Montessori(3) Challenges(1) Penguins(1) Horizon 2020(1) Infectious diseases(1) ReCreate(2) lockdown(1) TRAP(1) child-centred approach(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Light table(1) social media(1) Care routines(1) Rich Documentation(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) learning bias(1) friendships(1) DCYA(6) Mo Scéal(1) Imagination(3) Maths(5) Line-ups(1) Learning Story(1) Music(3) Emergent Curriculum(1) ERASMUS+(3) Laughter(1) Death(2) Early Learning and Care(1) Ceremony(1) Performing(1) behavioural science(1) Workplace well-being(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) World Health Organisation(1) Interactions(2) development(8) early years learning(1) SAC(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Shapes(1) play(34) experience(1) Training(2) Certificate(1) education(2) Trick or treat(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) linc(1) dogs(1) Awards 2018(3) Research Conference 2019(1) Arts(1) Mental Health(4) listen(1) Masterclass(2) outdoor play(6) Síolta QAP(1) Early Years(1) Confident(1) Mealtimes(1) reopening(1) Giraffe(2) Exit interview(1) Arithmetic(1) meals(3) Halloween(2) Maternity Leave(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Obesity(1) Liz Kerrins(1) First 5(1) Siolta blog(8) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Thinking(1) Our Little Seed(1) Policy(2) INTO(1) Norway(2) Meet the Members(1) Running(1) Fee Play(1) awards 2020(1) ECCE(7) eating(1) play therapy(1) Creative(1) MECPI(1) UD(1) gender stereotype(1) Albert Einstein(1) Routines(2) Snakes(1) Thanks(1) code of ethics(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Technology(3) Vertical grouping(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Settling in(4) Design(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Snacks(1) Craft(1) Trade Unions(1) Sessional service(1) under 3's(3) National Awards 2019(1) The Jelly King(1) preschool(4) Performance Management(1) primary education(1) Environment(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Intention(1) Workplace Relations(3) Book Club(2) Inspired Practice Award(5) Childcare(3) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) educating(1) ICBN(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Participation(2) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Learning journals(1) dublin(2) environments(1) babies(7) Quality(4) play pod(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) keep in touch(1) Reading Time(1) bloom app(1) Iceland(1) Book Review(1) ELC(1) Teamwork(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Supernanny(1) Scéalta Blog(99) maternity health(1) documentation(4) Early Childhood Ireland(4) Malaguzzi(1) Bereavement(2) Universal Design(2) Yoga(1) Leadership(1) Positivity(1) Inclusion(3) Valerie Gaynor(1) transitions(10) Wonder(1) animals(2) National Pyjama Day(1) Family(1) Health(2) Leprechauns(1) Mount Everest(1) Autism(4) Professionalisation(5) pets(1) Cognitive development(1) Upcycling(1) baby room(1) Cork(1) Games(1) Blocks(1) Thank you(1) risk assessment(1) Workforce(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) research submissions(1) Prexit(1) Aistear(122) Decision Making(1) Margy Whalley(1) code of professional responsibility(1) San Miniato(4) respect(5) Anthony Semann(1) Story(1) toddlers(3) memories(1) Investment(2) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Jenga(1) PIP(1) imotion(1) Through the looking glass(1) Elders(1) Culture(2) listening(1) Arlene Forster(1) Opportunities(1) MA(1) dining(1) Study Trip(1) Breathing(2) purpose(1) Capable(1) community(5) Reggio Children Network(1) Anxiety(2) Funding(1) Visitors(1) Exclusion(1) apps for children(1) Potential(1) Mud kitchens(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) Interaction(1) DES Inspection(1) Visual Impairment(1) Infection Control(1) emotional environment(2) science(3) conference(1) Children's Research Network(1) Consent(1) Weather(1) racism(1) Belonging(3) Identity and Belonging(4) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Exploring(1) Buddy Bench(1) CPD(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Aldo Fortunati(4) Little Buddies(1) Love(2) Painting(1) NAEYC(1) Magnavacchi(1) Valentine's Day(3) Rituals(1) Whole Group(1) Children's Rights(3) risky play(2) Graduation(1) Plastic(1) Japan(1) Child Care(1) Síolta(121) Home Corner(1) Recycle(1) CCTV(1) Leargas(1) Syria(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Wrapping paper(1) Care-giving routines(1) Orla Kenny(1) Qualifications(1) Engineers Week(2) collaboration(1) Mark Twain(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Titles(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Event Guide(1) Shoes(1) communication(4) Inter-generational learning(2) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) Irish guidelines(1) Your place(1) phone apps(1) Youtube Series(1) life long learning(1) iOS(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Winter(1) Graduate(1) Maria Montessori(1) Academics(1) Reopening Childcare(1) relationships(17) bonds(1) Educators(2) child-centric(1) Adoption(1) Maynooth University(2) Scéalta Book Review(1) Digital(1) Human Resources(1) Queues(1) Trade union(1) Learning Stories(9) planning(1) Sleep(1) Sequins(1) ears(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Playdough(1) Meal time(1) Afghanistan(1) Fantasy play(1) Kids Own(1) Awards Night(1) Photographs(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Spiders(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Building Resilience(1) CIT(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) ECEC Setting(2) Awards(2) children development(1) Limerick(1) Trigonometry(1) EECERA 2016(1) supportive environments(2) Pobal(1) Touch(1) healthy eating policies(1) childcare services(1) Mayo(1) Pen green(1) family time(1) Reggio(1) continual professional development(1) Childhood(1) Impact(1) Creativity(4) learning(19) COVID-19 Reopening(1) Traditions(2) Awards 2019(1) routine(2) Behaviour(3) Appreciation(1) Sport(1) aistear blog(3) Smiles(1) Advocacy(1) Pedagogy(1) TOY Programme(1) story time(2) structure(1) Affordability(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) show and tell(1) pablo(1) EM Standing(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Feeding(1) Recycling(2) trust(4) Socioemotional development(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) responsive relationships(1) NCCA(3) Sweets(1) Research Seminar(1) European Project(1) early life(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) value(1) COVID-19(8) Interests(1) University(1) learners(1) Wendy Lee(3) Independence(1) youdoodle(1) Mindfulness(2) Irish(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Wesco(1) Covid19 crisis(1) College(1) Flowers(1) IGL(1) coronavirus(1) Children and families(1) SPICE Framework(1) Change(1) curriculum(5) Early Years Educators(3) budget(1) Self-Esteem(1) food(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Budget 2018(1) keezy(1) feisty(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Super Shed Stories(2) christmas(9) Engagement(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) preschool settings(1) National Holiday(1) reading(5) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Self Help Skills(1) Equality(1) Children's Voice(1) Maynooth(1) Learning Story Awards(2) GoToMeeting app(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) GDPR(1) Employee(1) gender bias(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Biting(1) role playing(1) mental health problems(1) Decisions(1) Pobal sector profile(1) worries(1) Mixed age groups(2) Loss(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) New Appointments(1) Wilenski(1) mushrooms(1) Role play(1) dining experiences(1) Nutrition(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Vietnam(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) grandchild(1) Art(6) Sustainability(3) social science(1) Confidence(1) UN(1) Online(1) United Nations(1) Builders(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) School Age Childcare(1) Kerry(1) Dance(1) Covid pandemic(1) Window(1) Reflective Practice(1) staying connected(1) research(6)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine