Mother Nature’s Sensory Classroom

Life is a Garden

Gardening naturally stimulates our senses: the smell of wet soil, the sound of a cooing dove in the distance, the feeling of warm sun kisses on our skin, and early morning dew drops so fresh we can almost taste it! Children, however, may need a little more encouragement to engage with nature in this way. Luckily, Life is a Garden is bringing you some inspiration this August to create an indulging sensory experience for your kids, filled with adventure and exploration.  We’re talking all about stimulating your child’s senses through a natural playscape environment in your own backyard or school playground.

Life is a Garden

Sight: A great attention grabber is through striking visual stimuli. A garden that looks visibly interesting with a variety of colours, textures, and a few intriguing items should get their curiosity going. Create an obstacle course by incorporating different sized tree stumps or rocks as stepping stones over some dangerous lava looking succulents and spikey grass. An outdoor dollhouse or treasure chest under a tree may further inspire imaginative play.

Plant picks: Rooiblaarplakkie (Kalanchoe sexangularis) is a hardy succulent, perfect as a lava substitute.  Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are big, bold, and beautiful cut-flowers. Starlight grass (Anthericum) brings in strong texture and contrast for the rugged garden warrior.

Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden
Life is a Garden

Sound: Incorporating both natural and man-made sound stimulation is easier than you may think. A DIY hand shaker project with some dried seeds or stones inside empty spice bottles may motivate the kinesthetically inclined child to engage their sense of sound. Wind chimes will become an ambient focal point during the August winds too.  A water feature may help to encourage more gentle playtime and promote an awareness of subtle and calming sounds. Alternatively, you could even start a buzzing bee hotel for the gogo-loving garden explorer!

Level up your little green thumbs Must Love Gardening

Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
Level up your little green thumbs

In celebration of Youth Day on June 16, Life is a Garden is on a mission to get kids dabbing for dirt! This month is all about enticing little green thumbs to get their nature on by integrating familiar gaming concepts into the world of gardening. We’re talking all about inspiring kids to see gardening as a real-life gaming opportunity, where they select the players, choose their weapons, and use that thirst for adventure to their advantage by creating themed worlds.

Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
Selecting possible players

By this, we mean choosing the best-suited crop for your kid. A visit to your local GCA Garden Centre easily becomes an exciting morning outing when the kids get to select the players for their gardening game-play. Here’s a list of a few worthy contenders, which are relatively easy to grow and fun to harvest:

  • Namaqualand daisies (Dimorphotheca sinuata): Colourful and quirky sun lover, attracts butterflies and bees, flowers during autumn, winter, and early spring.
  • Iceland poppies (Papaver naudicaule): A wow factor flora available in many shades and bicoloured varieties, easy to grow in full sun, flowers in winter and spring, makes for a great cut flower.
  • Wild mint (Mentha longifolia): Smells amazing and has many uses, a fast grower in semi-shade or full sun, the more you harvest, the more they grow!
  • Sugar snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon): Easy, great tasting veggie for winter growing in full sun, frost hardy, likes to climb and loves to be picked.
Level up your little green thumbs
Level up your little green thumbs
Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
Life is a Garden – Must Love Gardening Level up your little green thumbs
Choosing your weapon, wisely:

Plastic spades and buckets are great for the beach, but gardening is a “big kid” job, which requires suitable weaponry to tackle the tenacious nature with! Let your children know that what they are doing is important by allowing them to use real, grown-up gardening tools.