A sensory garden can be great fun to design, build and of course, enjoy. Kids learn best when they have freedom to explore and play in an environment that is safe and amenable to lots of imaginative play. As well as being educational and fun, a sensory garden can help kids regulate their moods and allow them to obtain sensory feedback, they may otherwise be missing in their day. This can mean happier and calmer kids.
A sensory garden is one that features plants and decorative items that range in texture, colour, and scent. Light and sound can also be incorporated. A garden that is sensory-rich can both calm and excite, depending on the design elements used, and can become a favourite place to be for kids and adults alike.
Sensory gardens can be made for any size space. A small court yard can feature potted plants, fairy gardens, or interesting wall art. Use sand, pebbles or rocks in pots for tactile play and wind chimes for auditory input. In larger yards, rows of herbs or fragrant blooms can smell delicious, or a wooden bridge or stepping stones can provide vestibular and proprioceptive feedback (how we move our body in space). A cushion thrown under a shady tree, or hammock can become a favourite quiet spot for reading at the end of the day.
Key things to remember:
• Safety first. Use non-toxic plants (herbs and vegetables are great) and avoid anything too spiky. A little rough texture is fine (good even), but anything that can damage skin should be off the list.
• Incorporate water, but do so cautiously. Running water sounds and looks wonderful, but avoid deep ponds that might tempt younger kids.
• Explore with garden lights of different tones or colours, but ensure switches and fixtures are out of reach.
You are only limited by your imagination. Do you have a sensory garden?
Nicole is a privately practicing Occupational Therapist (OT) in Brisbane, Queensland and mother to 2 beautiful girls. More information about Nicole can be found here: www.gatewaytherapies.com.au
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