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Kids need sensory stimulation for development. Planting a sensory garden for kids is a great way to meet that need! And they can help! Check out all the benefits of planting a sensory garden with kids.
All five senses should be stimulated to help children develop important pathways for learning in their brains. The more stimulation, the earlier, the better. Hands on is brains on. And nature activities like gardening are hands on for sure!
What is a sensory garden?
A garden is a beautiful way to provide stimulation for young children. Close your eyes and think in your mind about all the sounds, tastes, smells, sights and textures in the garden. Can you think of anything more appropriate for the development of young children? Click here to read more from the National Association of Child Development.
Sensory garden ideas for preschool
It’s super cinchy to plant a sensory garden for preschool. The first thing you need to do is decide what kinds of plants you want to plant. Here are some great choices for each kind of sensory processing. There are plenty of others, but these are some I thought of easily. Can you imagine the paradise of a garden full of amazing scents, textures and colors?
I can because we have one here at Little Sprouts. I feel so good knowing every time we go out to the garden, the kids are forming thoughts, and firing brain development pathways. It’s super satisfying to know you are doing something wonderful for your kids’ future.
Check out this printable garden journal for kids from Mama on the Homestead. So cute!
Sensory plants for children’s gardens
First, you need to decide what sensory plants you will use for the children’s garden.
Sensory garden smell:
The sensory garden smell is the most fun one! Smell evokes feelings, brings up memories, and has so many benefits for mood and learning.
- HERBS! Any kind of herbs have strong, wonderful aromas. Some that are particularly wonderful are lemon balm, lemongrass, rosemary, thyme, mint, and basil.
- Lavender. One of the best smells ever.
- Scented geraniums are edible and come in a variety of fragrances.
- Fruit trees have a mesmerizing scent when they are bloomed out.
- Jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes are gorgeous, flowering plants that actually smell a little like chocolate. What could be better than that?
- Obviously, there are some gorgeous smelling flowers as well such as clematis, roses and other sweet-smelling beauties.
Sensory garden plants for visual stimulation:
(You can also use the vibrant colors to teach colors recognition)
- Tomatoes are a gorgeous bright red.
- Big bright sunflowers are delightful.
- Rainbow chard is a show stopper in the garden. It has a gorgeous texture as well.
- Kale is another beauty that has gorgeous colors and textures to look at.
- Is there really any vegetable or fruit that is not beautiful? Not one that I know of. The whole garden is a playground for sight. I love all the hues of green that are even gorgeous when no other color is present.
Sensory garden ideas for tactile stimulation:
There are a myriad of textures available for touch in the garden. It’s a bonus when you find one that smells amazing when you feel it like lavender or herbs.
- Lamb’s ear provides a wonderful sensation when you feel it, fuzzy and soft.
- Wrinkly kale, again, has a wonderful texture.
- Tomato plants are some of my favorites to run my fingers across.
- Okra has a prickly sensation that is interesting to feel, it can be irritating as well.
- Lemongrass is super long and fun to run your hands through.
- The leathery feel of the outside of cabbage is fun.
- The scratchy mesh of a cantaloupe skin is interesting.
I could go on and on with touch.
Best plants for a sensory garden for hearing stimulation:
- Think about hard canes of bamboo clicking together in the wind in the garden.
- The crunching of spent leaves at the end of the season is a fun sound. There are many sounds provided by birds, bees and other insects as well.
- Dry bean pods have fun sounds, like a maraca.
- We grew wheat last year and it reminded me of the sound of the full, dry seed heads scratching together that I remember as a child in the wheat fields back home.
There are many great sounds in the garden.
Plants for taste stimulation:
This doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Wow, are there a lot of flavors in the garden.
- The burst of a garden-ripe tomato in your mouth, full of sweet and tart flavors.
- Sweet fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe are some of the sweetest things on earth.
- The bitter flavor of greens and eggplant.
- Spicy peppers.
Taste also goes hand in hand with touch because all of the textures the fruits and vegetables make when you eat them. Crunchy, juicy, smooth, soft, creamy and so many other textures in your mouth when you are eating from the garden provides even more sensory stimulation.
Once you decide what you want to plant in your sensory garden for kids, you need to decide how you will plant it. Will you plant in raised beds? Click here to see the benefits. Will you plant in the ground? Will you plant a lot or a little?
Next, you need to actually build your raised bed and fill it or work your ground and add amendments. If you do a raised bed, you can mix 1/3 peat, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 pine bark mulch. If you need to amend your ground for planting, it depends on what kind of soil you’re starting with what it will need. Here we have clay soil, so I would add sand, peat, and compost to loosen it up.
Planting ideas for kids
Once you have your planting area ready, then either plant seedlings from the nursery, or seeds. Tomatoes and peppers do better as plants, but most other things can be direct seeded in the ground.
Make sure you keep your new plants watered, but not too much. More plants die from over-watering than anything else. Click here to see how much water your garden needs and how to tell if it’s getting it.
The last thing you do is enjoy what you’ve created and the process that went into it. Planting a sensory garden creates a paradise for you and your kids. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without your garden.
For garden activities for kids, click on the highlighted link.
For more sensory ideas with stuff you have around the house, check this out.
Be sure to pin for later!