Sensory play, an important activity for children’s development, contributes to learning and kindergarten readiness, and time in the garden will stimulate all the senses.
In a garden so many activities are touchy-feely. Hands get to dig in the soil, play with mud, find rocks, feel slippery earthworms and fuzzy caterpillars, and oh so gently touch plants. There’s the feeling of the outdoors from the soft breeze, the warm sun, and the cool water. Flowers and herbs are not the only things for smelling, but are probably what smell the best. Gardens are usually quiet places, so ears have to listen carefully. Hands pat the earth softly, the wind rustles the leaves, feet scrunch on the paths, and sometimes birds sing along.
Although gardens are not as colorful in the spring as summer and fall, there are bright flowers against a brown and green background. There are many different colors of green: dark, light, deep, yellow-green, and lots more. Plus, there’s a variety of shapes, textures, and lines. Leaves and flowers have unique patterns. Light and shadows dance around. Eyes need to focus carefully to see the small movements of plants. Bugs are hard to see because they are often camouflaged So much for eyes to see.
Best of all is the tasting, although technically that’s in the house not the garden itself. Fresh vegetables seem to be bursting with flavors. Sometimes, this can be overpowering for kids. A new food may need to be offered to kids as many as a dozen times before they will even try it, but generally they are more eager to eat what they have helped to grow.
Besides these five senses, there are the 2 whole body ones, the sense of the body’s position in space and the sense of movement. Moving might be digging, pulling, patting, carrying and other actions. Bodies bend into all sorts of positions, that’s why grownups are sometimes stiff after playing and working in gardens.
Gardens really are a feast for all of the senses. Sensory play is a natural way for children to explore and learn about the world around them. Small or large gardens grow as much learning as plants. What other sensory fun happens in a garden?