Children love being barefoot! It’s comfortable and it enables them to feel free.
What is a sensory garden path?
The path is made up of different sections containing material with different textures, such as grass, gravel, wood, plastic, and rubber. By walking over these materials barefoot, you can focus on the way the textures feel for a mindful moment.
When a child walks bare feet, not only does it improve walking, balancing and movement, it also provides a range of health benefits –
Stimulates pressure points and the nervous system
Feet are hard-wired with multiple pressure point and nerve endings to convey messages to other parts of the bodies. Going barefoot stimulates them and the entire nervous system.
Strengthen joints and muscles
Walking barefoot strengthens the muscles in children’s feet and ankles, improving balance and posture. It engages the feet’s arches, strengthening them and improves the alignment of muscles throughout the legs.
Strengthens feet and body
When barefoot, we grip the ground more easily using the muscles of our feet and toes, strengthening them, and reducing the risk of trips and falls. Walking barefoot allows us to maintain the full function of our feet.
Foster a connection with nature
Children become more aware of their surroundings – how the ground feels, is there a sharp rock ahead – their senses are fully engaged and completely connected with nature.
How to build a sensory garden path
Building a sensory garden path is straightforward and is something that can be achieved in a smaller garden too, so it is a great way of creating a sensory environment at home
- Create your design
Starting with a basic sketch of where you want your sensory garden path to go, get outside and begin to mark out your path. For this, you can use a long tape measure, some stakes and string. Doing this will help you visualise how the path will look and see if it works well with the space you have.
- Get digging
If you are happy with the planning, then it is time to get muddy! Using a shovel dig out the shape of the path, be sure to make the ground level so all your sensory elements can be walked on safely.
- Create the frame
Use bricks or pavers to define the edges and create the different sensory sections. Cement them in to keep them secure.
- Create your section
This is the fun part – decide how you want your path to work. Consider what senses you want to engage, as well as the tactile experience. Within each of the sections of your path, you can add different elements. Having a good variation from the one section to the next can enhance the experience, such as pebbles followed by rough bark, and then soft silk plants.
Here are a few path fillers you might consider:
Chamomile or Thyme
These release a scent as you walk and feel amazing under bare feet.
Choose to leave them loose and lively or cement them in, if you have space, you can have both to provide contrast.
Choosing log roll, sleepers, or bark. Bed them into sand for extra stability.
Fine sand can offer a unique addition to your sensory path as your child’s feet sink and it surrounds their toes.
Carefully chosen plants such as lavender stimulates both scent and touch, while including chimes or water will add a calming sound.
Whether you have a whole garden to build or just a small space to play, incorporating a sensory garden path will enhance tactile perception and support children with any level of sensory processing disorder.
It is a fun project that will benefit the whole family.
Des de Beer
Owner: Clamber Club Toddlers – Northcliff