These insights on gardening and sensory development are shared with us by our guest writer and special needs consultant Dr. Melissa Liguori, Ed. D.
After the April showers have cleared up, it is time for May Flowers! Rumor has it that it is warm enough to plant outdoors after Mother’s Day, and planting is a wonderful sensory experience for children!
Many children have sensory sensitivity to touching and feeling various materials. The world is full of different sounds, smells, textures, and scents, which can all be overwhelming. Exposing children to a variety of textures early on may help decrease this sensitivity and will have them better prepared for school and other activities that use finger paint, sand, shaving cream, etc. It helps them to learn about the world around them as well as help to develop motor skills, enrich vocabulary, and provide a variety of learning experiences.
Additionally, some children do not like to get their hands dirty and avoid participating in activities where this may occur. Helping your child get over these hurdles takes patience and small steps. A great way to get them to participate in this type of activity is planting!
Potting soil is a great inexpensive material where you can have children dive in and get dirty! Provide a child with gardening gloves at first, if they like. These great Melissa & Doug gardening gloves come in several color themes. Next, ask children to break up any lumps of dirt, allowing them to get in and mix it up! Ask children to then rake, and smooth the dirt in preparation for the seeds. Children can use the shovel included in the Blossom Bright Gardening Tote Set to make small holes, drop a seed in the hole, and then cover the seed up with dirt. The gardening kit also has a handy spray bottle allowing children to water their newly planted seeds (which by the way is a great finger strengthening activity). Children will be delighted to see their seeds grow in no time!
Once your child is accustomed to getting “dirty” the activities are endless! Hide small objects such as these, Taffy Sea Turtles Catch & Hatch creatures and allow your child to explore the soil digging for treasures! Eventually see if children will use their bare hands, increasing the sensory experience. As a great indoor activity, swap out the soil for rice. A sensory rice box will provide hours of fun while again providing children with an exciting sensory activity! Digging through ice provides another sensory experience that many children find comforting and relaxing. Be creative and introduce children to many different sensory experiences both indoors and outdoors and have fun at the same time.