Smiling like Sunshine: Sensory Japanese Garden for Kids {Guest Post}

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Sensory Japanese Garden for Kids {Guest Post}

Today, I am delighted that the lovely Gina of Famiglia and Seoul is guest posting on my blog. 

I am so excited to be guest posting here at Smiling Like Sunshine today!  Recently, my son and I visited the local library and came across a book that we really enjoyed.  One Leaf Rides the Wind, written by Celeste Davidson Mannis, is a lovely counting book that takes you on a tour of a Japanese Garden filled with beauty and serenity.  Each page is written in the form of haiku and introduces another element in the garden.   What I also love about this book is that at the bottom of the page, they have a short explanation about each part of the landscape and how it is special to Japanese culture. 

It is a wonderful way to introduce little ones to a new land and to see ways a garden may look in another country.  After reading this book, I decided to put together a small nature table for my toddler that incorporates items that are traditionally found in a Japanese Garden for him to play with or to simply enjoy. 

In addition to the story, here is a list of what I included in our little nature table, along with what they symbolize or how they can be used:

~ A bonsai and bamboo tree - to represent the "harmony between man and nature."

~ Flat rocks for the Earth.

~ Sand, which symbolizes purity.

~ A small container of water for good fortune.

~ Tea leaves as a reminder of the "tea ceremony that reflects harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility."

~ Maple leaves to tell the "story of seasons past and seasons yet to come."

~ A water dropper so that my toddler can water the plants

~ A tea strainer to pick up the tea leaves or sand and practice his fine motor skills

This miniature Japanese Garden is wonderful for stimulating the senses.  The tea leaves smell wonderful and there are several different textures for your child to explore. My little guy loves helping me out, so watering the trees is the perfect way to give him a bit of responsibility during play.  Most items can even be placed on a tray to contain the sand and water or to be taken outside to enjoy the sunshine!

Gina is a  former 4th grade teacher turned SAHM with a  23 months old son.Her  blog is a "diary" written to him about nurturing his soul and creating an enduring family bond together.Gina says she feels a parent should help their child experience nature, arts, meaningful play, and how to simply be a kid which will help guide them to develop their own unique talents as they grow.


  1. What a wonderful and calming little spot. :)

  2. I love this idea of introducing culture into sensory play. Fantastic

  3. What a wonderful activity, and great sensory experience, love it!

  4. What a great way to introduce a new culture. We have family who live in Japan and I've been trying to explain what its like (but I don't think its been very successful so far!) - I may have to try something like this soon.

  5. Wow, what a gorgeous idea! I love it! :-) and great way to explore another culture too. Too cute.

  6. Exploring cultures is the best.

  7. That's beautiful. I love all the symbolism.

  8. Great idea! I lived in Japan for 2 years, and this would be a nice way to bring it into our home.

  9. What a beautiful idea! And sounds like a wonderful book. I am always looking for ways to help my toddler learn reverence, and I think a beautiful sensory garden like this would be a lovely, hands on way to do this. Thank you!

  10. This is such a great idea. We'd love for you to link it up to our Japan Around the World in 12 Dishes. Here's the link!

  11. I love this amazing idea - the book connection, the culture connection, the nature connection, the sensory I'm featuring it on this week's Sunday Showcase.


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