In our efforts to have the infants participate in the gardening experience like the other classes in the school are doing this month, we provided them with the plants and accessories for gardening to stimulate their senses. These plants and accessories were selected on the basis that they would provide experiences for seeing, hearing, touching, and smelling. We wanted to encourage the children to interact with the plants and enjoy their textures, smells and color.
In our first observation we saw that children were very interested in scooping handfuls of the dirt and then slapping it back down on the table. After studying the colorful flowers carefully, they started to then pull them down from the table to explore more closely. Pulling each leaf and petal apart from the stem seemed to be the theme of this exploration for all the children. They were really fascinated with their textures. Even interested in the sound of the plastic container in which they came in, they would squeeze it repeatedly in their hands, listening to its crackly sound. Others enjoyed banging the small hand shovels on the ceramic pots.
This sensory experience is beneficial for the toddlers because it not only engaged the children to use their senses, but allowed them to be aware that they were using their senses to observe and absorb new information. This provides a foundation for future learning endeavors because the toddlers now have the confidence of their ability to explore and learn through their senses freely.
Keeping with our light study, we also made mirrors one of the accessories of this garden experience. Light and shadow are often overlooked, but are visually important sensory garden elements. Using the mirrors enhanced the visual pleasure of the colorful flowers, making this outdoor experience an amazing one for the children!
“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” -David Hobson