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Johnson opens sensory garden for youngsters
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Johnson High sophomore Cally Peck helps young students Monday morning at the new sensory garden at Johnson High School. The project is from the school’s early childhood education classes and members of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America club. - photo by RON BRIDGEMAN

A lady bug tire and a frog tire help youngsters learn about senses at the new “sensory garden” at Johnson High School.

The garden, dedicated Monday morning, is a project of the school’s early childhood education classes and members of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America club.

Seniors Hayley Wilson and Maricarmen Molina “sparked the idea,” Wilson said, and led the effort.

It includes a series of boxes and exhibits to lead young students through the senses — learning to use them and distinguish among them.

“Senses are really confusing for children, especially when they are younger,” Wilson said.

The garden also includes a “soundwall,” what appears to be wooden chimes — made from balsa wood — which is good to bang on if you’re a student and helps with the sense of hearing.

On Monday, the youngsters also were “handprinted” on a trash can. The sense of touch, and the added benefit of a recycling message, were part of that.

Facepainting was a “tactile” experience.

The early childhood education classes work with the pre-K group from Redwine United Methodist Church. Those youngsters visited Johnson High on Monday morning.

The reading readiness program at the international center and with the autistic classroom at Johnson also work with the early childhood education classes at Johnson High School.

She said she expects future classes will add to the garden, and that other schools and groups are welcome to use the garden.

Wilson said the class “had tons of ideas to do, but we had to think costwise and timewise” so the garden could be finished.

She pointed out the school’s construction classes and graphic arts department also helped with the project.

The garden is behind the weight room and near the athletic fields with its area fenced off.

The project took gold at the regional FCCLA competition and silver at the state event. It also received the Leadership Service in Action Award for the state. McGovern said the school has won that award two straight years.