Friday Fun Events
Your Own Sensory Garden
What is a Sensory Garden?
It is a place full of textures, sounds, smells, and fun! It can be calming, exciting, engaging, relaxing or a combination of all of these based on your child’s individual interests and your imagination to create it. Creating a sensory garden in your own back provides a safe place for you and your child to relax, play and learn together. Just like our children, every garden is unique and beautiful.
What do I need to do? Start with a creating a plan in just a section of the yard or go for the whole yard. Since you know your child the best, you can start by listing the types smells, textures, sounds, colors and activities they enjoy doing. Determine the season as gardens have different seasons and plants. This will guide you along with your own creativity.
How much will it cost? That depends! Look for natural occurring items that can create this for you in the way of flowers, trees, natural outdoor features (rocks, grass, etc.), then add to it. You can purchase these items new or look for them in garden centers, garage sales, old toys. If cost is an issue, start small and grow your garden.
What things should I consider for the Sensory Garden?
Color: Use bright vibrant colors in plants, furniture, and accessories to draw the eyes. You can also use color for direction, specific activities areas (zoning) or to designate what is available and not to play with.
Plants for Touch, Smells, Taste: Plants provide many colors and textures such as a Lamb’s ear (fuzzy) or snap dragons (soft and tall). Plants are educational as well (touch the pink ones, which one is taller). Plants may also be a way for your oral explorers to try things! Go for herbs like basil, rosemary, chocolate mint or pineapple sage. Add vegetables like cherry tomatoes, snape peas, zucchini or other patio grown plants. Some flowers are editable such as pansy (taste like salad/wintergreen), or marigolds (Lemon Gem and Tangerine Gem). There is much about this on the internet!
**Caution – if your child has a tendency to put things in their mouth, editable plants may be a good idea or a bad idea if they cannot distinguish between what to eat and not.
Sounds: Add sounds that are calming or exciting! Chimes come in so many different materials, sounds and designs. Consider birds, tall grasses, whistles, and water!
Visuals: As visual delights such as objects such as windmills or spinning art, stain glass plastics, moving objects, lights, along with things with color.
Getting Around/Textures: Consider your child’s ambulatory needs. Is walking on uneven areas difficult? Consider a smooth path.
Do they like to climb? Add bridges, logs at different heights, ramps. Or do they like to feel through their feet? Add homemade or
store-bought stepping stones in different textures, grass, or rubber mulch. Choose one or a variety to
Activities: Sensory gardens are about exploring and playing so incorporate things your child enjoys likes swings, slides or play equipment or consider the more natural formats of:
Water features from fountains, to ponds to bird baths
Use a raised flower bed for a sensory table with sand, water, dirt.
A place to Hang out – what about a hanging swing, net swing, large crash pad with outside safe fabric, rocking chairs? Remember to provide both in the sun and shade.
An activity wall – these are toys, musical instruments, textures attached to a wall or plank to explore. They can be as simple as putting up stick paper (sticky side out) and putting on things they find to plastic pots or metal pans for musical play to elaborate designs including toys (made or purchased).
Communication: Don’t forget to add Communication, if you need it! You can now add outdoor safe communication boards that
can be purchased on Etsy or Home Depot (make your own and back in 24 hours).
If your child eats things – know the plants or don’t allow editable plants if it might confuse them what they can or can’t eat.
If you child has mobility issues – create safe walking paths for them to enjoy the activities
If having a water feature, adult supervision may be necessary.
Always be aware of the chemicals used in the yard that might get on or eaten by your child.