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How to Create a Sensory Garden at Home

Throughout the summer of 2018, Milton Hershey School teachers, students, and staff built an outdoor sensory garden in the enclosed courtyard of Memorial Hall.

MHS elementary students enjoying sensory garden

The sensory garden is part of an elementary strategy, implemented by MHS Principal Tara Valoczki, to provide students with emotional and psychological support.

“Everyone deals with stress on a daily basis, including children,” Valoczki said. “It is critical to teach our students how to manage their stress.”

Now, more than ever, stress is at an all-time high due to the coronavirus pandemic. MHS parents/sponsors, houseparents, and staff are looking for resourceful ways to engage students and provide educational opportunities.

Compost’s dark color comes from decomposed organic matter (called humus) which feeds plants and retains moisture.

Photo courtesy of Jason Smith

Here are four steps to create your own sensory garden:

  1. Choose a location: Choose a space with natural light and calming noise. Allow for places to sit and explore along the way.
  2. Implement a child-focused approach: Include your child or family in the creative process. Encourage your child to choose materials that help them feel calm.
  3. Determine your materials: Collect your materials such as outdoor flowers and plants, planters, potting soil, plastic containers, sand, rocks, water fountain etc.
  4. Set it up: Plant your flowers, scatter the sand, and construct your instruments with recyclable materials.

“This space is a place of serenity,” Valoczki said. “It allows individuals to calm themselves and feel at peace using their senses.”

MHS students, teachers, and staff are using the Memorial Hall sensory garden throughout the year for classroom lessons, yoga, meditation, and more.

Learn more about the Memorial Hall sensory garden.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. View full Equal Opportunity Policy.