Albert Harris Elementary School celebrates new sensory garden

Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 4:06 PM EDT
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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Albert Harris Elementary School now has a new sensory garden - the first of its kind in the school district.

The school unveiled its new sensory garden with a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday morning. The garden was designed to stimulate the five senses.

“The idea is for them to be able to get their hands in this garden,” said Krista Hodges, Education Outreach Manager for the Dan River Basin Association. “This is not something they’re just going to stand back and look at and be told not to touch. We want them to get their hands in it, get dirty, and play while they’re learning.”

Students can see and hear the wind chimes, smell the flowers, and touch the sand box.

“Being out in nature provides all kinds of benefits. Just being out in this garden, you can hear the sounds of nature. You can feel the wind and the sun on your face. It’s all peaceful. It’s so much nicer than being in a classroom with artificial sunlight. We’re supposed to be outside,” added Hodges.

With their teacher’s permission, they can even taste the peppers, basil, oregano, and other herbs that are planted in the garden.

“When you touch those plants, you can smell it, as well, and you can actually taste of it,” said Laurie Witt, K-5 Stem Teacher for Albert Harris Elementary School. “The peppers are supposed to be a little bit spicy. So, some of our students will be glad to try a pepper and some of them might be a little bit shy.”

The sensory garden is also full of rocks that people can make for inspiration and students can take for motivation.

“One of the wonderful things about having environmental pieces at school is not only do the students get to benefit here, many of them take it home. The learning that they’re doing here will encourage parents and grandparents and other family members to plant gardens and do other things that engage the senses,” said Witt.

They eventually want every teacher and student to paint an inspirational rock for the garden.