Children thrive in the outdoors with the positive energy that the spring air does to activate our senses – Smell, Sight, Taste, Sound and Touch.
Delicious sweet scent fills the air around us while vibrant colours radiate, the discovery of berries to taste, buzzing busy bees and butterflies fluttering by, and new foliage to feel on our fingertips.
A sensory garden is an engaging space that encourages children to interact with their environment.
Think about the elements you can add to your garden to enliven senses and foster a positive mood.
Walking through our neighbourhood in the spring fresh air offers a medley of fragrances to boost our feelings of joy and playfulness. This positive mood can be experienced in a backyard or Early Childhood garden with the addition of plants such as herbs, lavender, and the many varieties of scented geranium that offer a spectrum of scents.
Using colour combinations that encourage delight, happiness, activity or relaxation can be used to stimulate feelings. You may like to use lilac, blues, white and soft greens to create a quiet space that will instil a gentle, calm atmosphere in the garden.
Natural sounds in the garden can relax and enhance awareness – the chirping of birds, buzzing of bees, and the rustling sound created by the movement of our plants in the soft breeze all contribute to our connection with our natural world. Add the gentle sound of wind chimes and a water feature to further enhance your children’s garden.
The addition of plants with different textures, shapes and sizes will add depth and interest to the garden – get down to a child’s level and look around your garden; does it offer depth and interest at their height? Will they be encouraged to explore and engage in their surroundings? Plant lambs ear and various herbs to add texture to explore sense of touch.
Grow a variety of edible plants in your garden, include plants that children love to eat such as strawberries, blueberries or native plants such as Lilly Pilly and Dianella. Chocolate mint is another favourite!
Sensory observation activity
To help children develop an awareness of their senses, engage them in the following observation/mindfulness activity every once in a while.
- Have children find their own space in the garden and ask them to sit or lie for one minute to start and gradually build up to no more than five minutes, a great alternate transition to lunch or rest time or maybe to start the day.
- Ask children to be still and notice what they feel around them: what can they smell, see, hear. Ask them calmly to be still and think about what they notice, later they could draw or paint their observations on paper.
- Alternatively this activity could be experienced as a small group activity “A Garden Wander” – where children quietly explore their senses in the garden by walking slowly around the garden and noticing – sounds, smells, touch, taste and sight.
Co-Founder/Program Director, Seed Harvest Spoon Education Foundation