Gardening is something at which every child can succeed. It also helps keep them fit, is non-competitive, productive and gets them outdoors and in tune with nature. It can enhance every curriculum area.
We developed our sensory garden after seeing the pleasure a visually impaired child got when he joined the lunchtime gardening club. He was more relaxed and motivated during the afternoon. Together with the children, we designed a garden which would be packed with features and plants designed to stimulate the senses - soft furry plants, brightly coloured flowers, cobbled and gravelled surfaces, strongly scented and flavoured herbs, fruit and vegetables. It has winding paths for skipping, a stage for outdoor productions and an area for sitting.
Every child planted a plant and so they look after it. There are monitors who daily weed, plant and tidy while others look after the smaller children.
Teachers use the garden for curriculum work. Mystery stories have been set in the garden, plants have been studied for science, mosaics for art, wind chimes for design and technology, music has been performed on the stage.
About half the children in the school come along to gardening club. Why is it successful? We listen to the children's ideas, we give the club high status and ensure achievements are celebrated, we let children get their hands dirty and take responsibility. We vary activities and let everyone have a go at everything. Most of all we enjoy ourselves.
Clare Revera is special needs co-ordinator at St Brides Major Church in Wales Primary School, Vale of Glamorgan