“Where children can delight in nature and discover a passion for plants…”
We have all heard about our plans for a Sensory Garden and asked what happened to our pavers! Well it’s been a long journey but our Sensory Garden & Outdoor Classroom is well under construction!
During the school holidays, works commenced on our visionary Sensory Garden & Outdoor Classroom. This is our enduring gift for our school from a school community who values our children’s learning experiences both within and outside the classroom.
The Garden came as a result of the School requesting the P & C for their support to celebrate the School’s 20th Anniversary in February 2016. The P & C recommended a Paver Fundraiser to sell pavers to the families of the School both past and present to be included in a Sensory Garden as a living gift to all students past, present and future.
With thanks to our school families and local businesses who have supported our many fundraising efforts, we have been able to provide further financial assistance to enable the hardscaping of the Garden to be undertaken. We are ever grateful to BNJ Landscaping who successfully tendered for the project and is currently undertaking hardscaping works.
So what is a Sensory Garden & Outdoor Classroom?
A Sensory Garden seeks to enliven sensory nerves through specific selection and careful arrangement of various garden elements. Sensory perceptions that range from sight and hearing, smell and touch, to even taste can be evoked by a sensory garden. A sensory garden can serve therapeutic and educational purposes for children.
The common focus of all sensory gardens is the creation of an immersive experience that appeals to one or more of the five senses that is beyond the scope and design of an average garden. To some degree, the experience for observers and participants is often described to be invigorating, relaxing and stimulating.
A sensory garden is a way of communicating with nature and stimulates children to the value of their five senses.
What the garden is not, is a playground! This is a “learnscape” – where children are taken outdoors to experience and learn in a natural environment. There is no playground equipment – only learning equipment that supports a child.
The TPPS Sensory Garden and Outdoor Classroom Project aims to meet the needs of our school for 21st Century Learning, to be a sustainable resource and to use the physical site and available resources to their fullest. It aims to offer a place that enriches the teaching efforts of our dedicated teachers with powerful hands-on experiences that make learning come alive – connecting students to nature, life-long skills, achievement and behaviours.
It is hoped that our garden will benefit our children in various ways including but not limited to:
- Positive impact on student achievement and behavior
- Improvement in the knowledge of science
- Improvement in social skills and behaviours
- Improvement in environmental attitudes and the instillation of respect for nature
- Improvement in attitudes towards and the consumption of fruits and vegetables
The Sensory garden is not just a place for plant science and ecology; they are also places for art, music, math, creative writing, sharing and teamwork within the interconnected web of life.
What will it look like?
Our photos show the basics of the design – the garden will include:
- A sensory trail constructed from various materials such as stones, grass and wood that provide sensory experiences. The trail is part of the larger pathway system with no dead ends and wide enough to accommodate wheelchair access so that the garden is all inclusive.
- Two seating areas:-
- Outdoor seating and 20th Anniversary Paved area for our Outdoor Classroom showcasing the pavers from the fundraiser. The area does not include tables as this would inhibit the creativity and flow of the garden. The seating is circular rather than set in traditional classroom type arrangements.
- A “sit and think” seat placed around an existing tree – a place to reflect and share ideas. Again circular in shape. We have deliberately avoided harsh angles and square shapes to ensure the designs flows.
- Outdoor musical instruments
- Plants and elements that reflect, excite and develop the five senses – a row of fruit trees, hedging to lure the child to the garden and experience what is beyond, herbs and grasses. All of the chosen plantings have been selected in accordance with DOE guidelines and we have considered possible allergies etc.
- Artwork and sculpture
- Spiral raised garden beds so that children can experience plantings at varying heights.
- A dry creek bed using natural drainage on-site.
- Weather stations and magnifying elements to see micro environments not to mention a windsock, sundial, peepholes and insect hotels!
The garden encompasses the whole area between the Vegie patch and Kinder classrooms extending to the new COLA an area of approximately 200 m2!
The project is a tangible project that we can shape over time – we look forward to achieving our vision and the result will be a garden and learning resource that keeps giving over time.
The Sensory Garden & Outdoor Classroom Project has generated great support from local businesses recognising the value for outdoor learning opportunities. We greatly appreciate the support of Fast Plast Building Supplies and Tradelink Port Macquarie.
NB: Some of the photos in this article are examples only. The end result may look different.