The Tobin School

TCS’ Sensory & Pollinator Garden Blossoms

Long a dream here at TCS, 2021 was the year we finally created our new Sensory & Pollinator Garden. We had talked extensively about adding this feature to an underutilized outside space on our campus and the results have exceeded our expectations!

Our faculty, students, and families were eager to help. As a school we planted flower and vegetable ‘seeds of kindness’ during our town’s Kindness Week celebration. A team of educators worked together to build and fill our new raised beds. Parents and teachers donated plants and seeds. Our students joined the effort to plant seeds and seedlings in our new beds. Weeding and watering the gardens are favored activities and many of our students and their families check our garden daily. We also had the opportunity to see how some children, who had struggled in many traditional classroom activities, could truly “blossom” when working in the gardens.

As our garden grew, the excitement level rose. The colors of flowers, the smells of the herbs, and the textures of the leaves drew everyone to the garden. Harvesting broccoli for morning snack was incredibly well-received by our little gardeners. One parent shared that her son wanted broccoli for breakfast the next day! Tomatoes came next which led to making our own mozzarella cheese to create a Caprese Salad including our own Purple Basil. The students have felt such pride in their efforts. We were pleased with the number and variety of pollinating insects drawn to the garden beds. The children loved the opportunity to see these insects at work and learned how our plants served many living things. We added a pollinator house as we learned more about the role of beneficial insects. And our giant pumpkin grows bigger by the day, surrounded by a crop of birdhouse gourds.

Our new gardens will be shared beyond our campus. We plan to present our gardening work at this year’s Natick Earth Day celebration and to share more with our community through our School blog and social media. We also encourage Nicole Urmston, Sr. Lead Teacher in PS1 and a leader in this effort, to share her work by presenting on this topic at area early childhood conferences. Long term we hope to expand our gardens to grow even more fruits and vegetables, plant milkweed and other pollinator attracting plants (allowing us to further explore caterpillars and their life cycles), add a water feature to this area, and have our students build insect ‘homes’.  Thanks so much to everyone for their efforts to create this wonderful addition to our campus and our learning environment.