Grantee Blog 2020

Using All Our Senses

The sensory garden at Merriam Avenue School has been providing students with opportunities to engage their senses and connect with nature.

The emotional benefits of being outdoors can be observed as soon as a student enters the garden.  This environment provides a safe and secure feeling coupled with a sense of fun and adventure.

The research and planning that was put into the design of the garden is evident, there is a clear nod to all the senses.

We blended primary colors with the natural hues of bamboo and unfinished wood to create a ‘Zen feel’ with pops of color.  The various colors of the plants and flowers provide further aesthetic stimulation.

Mint, rosemary and lavender are growing in several locations giving children the opportunity to touch and smell these fragrant plants. We also included strawberries, cherry tomatoes and basil to encourage children to explore their sense of taste in the garden.

Children enjoy interacting with the tactile sensory board that was installed, they like to touch the various textures.  Students can explore the entire garden with their hands from the smooth texture of the river rocks to the cool water splashing down the water feature.

The sound of the wind charms and the water fountain provide a natural musical backdrop for the garden. We have installed several bird feeders to encourage the sound of birds chirping and most recently outdoor Bluetooth speakers that look like rocks have been added to the garden.

To encourage students to truly engage with the garden we placed signs that read:

Name 5 things you can see, 4 things that you can touch, 3 things that you can hear, 2 things that you can smell, 1 things you can taste.

About the Grantee

Merriam Avenue Elementary School

Merriam Avenue Elementary School is located in Northwest New Jersey. The mission of the Newton Public Schools is to educate the whole child. We believe parents, teachers, support staff and citizen's must partner in order to help children achieve their highest potential. Therefore we organize ourselves as community schools.