Garden Sense: Exploring The Five Senses

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Garden Sense:Exploring the Five SensesGrades: K-2Portland Japanese GardenLesson Plans for the ClassroomFour SeasonsvFive SensesvOne Extraordinary Experience 2009 Portland Japanese Garden. All rights reserved. Photo courtesy of David M. Cobb.

Garden Sense: Exploring the Five SensesGrades: K-2Introductory Information for TeachersThe Goju-no-To or Five-Story PagodaWalking through the Wisteria Arbor in the heart of the Portland Japanese Garden,students find a “picture-frame” view of one of the Garden’s special treasures—theGoju-no-To or Five-Story Pagoda. The Goju-no-To is nearly 100 years old and wasa gift given in 1963 to this Garden from the Mayor of Sapporo, our Sister City onthe northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. The Goju-no-To is 18 feet high, weighs twotons, and is made of granite. It is a lantern-style pagoda and serves as a reminderof one of the spiritual traditions associated with Japanese gardens (see FurtherInformation to learn more).Each of the five stories of the pagoda represents one of the five elements: earth,water, fire, wind, and sky. The pagoda also serves to represent the five directions:north, east, south, west, and center; or the five colors: red, yellow, blue, black andwhite; or the five great virtues: humanity, justice, respect, wisdom, and fidelity.While the five elementary forces (ever-producing and ever-destroying) are: wood,fire, earth, metal, and water. This symbolic use of the number five can serve as adeparture point for introducing the five senses with children.A stroll through a Japanese garden is expected to be a total sensory experience.Approaching the Goju-no-To, we can appreciate the way in which the Japanesegarden designer consciously shapes and directs this sensory experience. Viewsare intentionally directed using such devices as framing, hide-and-reveal, andscreening. The sounds of the nearby waterfall and the crunch of footsteps ongravel, the touch underfoot of the Belgian blocks giving way to gravel, all engagethe senses and contribute to the appreciation of this special spot.Further InformationA pagoda is a symbolic tower that has historic roots in India where ancient Buddhist reliquaries called stupa are believed toenshrine relics of Gautama Siddhartha, the historic Buddha. As Buddhism traveled from India to China and beyond, symbolicreliquaries were built in many different forms and shapes (including towers in brick, wood, or stone) depending upon thecountry of origin and the historic period.The nine rings on the top represent the nine heavens in Buddhist belief. The top is in the shape of a lotus blossom, a flowerthat blooms in muddy waters—a symbol that represents the belief that enlightenment is attainable even amid an oftentroubled existence.In design terms, the framed view of the Goju-no-To through the Wisteria Arbor at the Portland Japanese Garden is a visualand conceptual vehicle for appreciating the Japanese artistic preference for asymmetry. Odd numbers are preferred overeven, as the five groupings of shrubs and trees around the pagoda demonstrate. The varying heights of the yew hedges thatform the backdrop to the pagoda lead the eye up and over the pagoda itself. The natural balance and harmony possiblethrough asymmetry is a key element of Japanese art and design. 2009 Portland Japanese Garden. All rights reserved. Photo courtesy of David M. Cobb.1

Garden Sense: Exploring the Five SensesGrades: K-2Lesson PlanIntroduction to the LessonThe following Lesson Plan and Activity will guide students through an exploration of the five senses. A stroll through aJapanese garden is intended to be a total sensory experience. The Portland Japanese Garden is a vehicle through which tointroduce and explore the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. The only sense that is not readily apparentis that of taste. If you were a guest at a tea ceremony in the Garden’s Kashin-Tei Tea House, you would taste the uniqueflavor of a frothy bowl of green tea called matcha. The slightly bitter flavor of the tea is offset by a sweet confection thataccompanies it. And one of the delights of an ordinary spring day at the Garden is the invigorating taste of rain in the air.Lesson OverviewJapanese garden design thoughtfully engages the five senses (taste: tea from tea ceremony in tea garden) of the observer. Inthis lesson, students will take a sensory tour of the Portland Japanese Garden. On the sensory tour children will pick a sense(other than taste) to focus on while they experience the natural setting. This lesson will encourage children to expand theirvocabularies and hone their observation skills.*This lesson can be an excellent introduction to the Haiku: Poetry in the Garden Lesson.ObjectivesStudents will be able to: Name the five senses. Articulate words and phrases relatingto the senses. Interact appropriately in a natural space. Observe a natural space with a focus on aparticular sense and articulate the words theyassociated with their experience. 2009 Portland Japanese Garden. All rights reserved.Oregon Department ofEducationCommon Curriculum GoalsLanguage Arts Writing: Students will identify and write variousparts of speech. Speaking: Students will describe people, places,and things. Vocabulary: Students will classify categoriesof words.2

Garden Sense: Exploring the Five SensesGrades: K-2Classroom PreparationBegin classroom preparation sufficiently far enough in advance of the trip to the Portland Japanese Garden so thatthe children are familiar with the five senses, are accustomed to being asked to focus on a sense, and are comfortableusing adjectives to describe the senses. Once the children are familiar with the concept of the five senses, the advancepreparation can be accomplished in 2-3 minute activities, repeated at various times throughout the days leading up to theGarden visit.In preparation for your trip to the Portland Japanese Garden (detailed information follows):1. Teach or review the five senses.2. Keep an ongoing list of words describing each sense.3. Provide many opportunities for short, repetitive activities focusing on the senses.4. Explain the purpose of the visit to the Japanese Garden and the behavioral expectations.1. Teach or review the five senses: sight, hearing, smell,touch, taste (Be sure the children understand that thesense of touch can be experienced by all parts of the body,not just the hands.)2. Develop, on large chart paper, an ongoing class list ofadjectives that might be used to describe objects andexperiences related to each of the senses. Encouragethe children to think of words and continue to add to thislist as you prepare for the visit to the Portland JapaneseGarden. Encourage very descriptive adjectives or phrasesand, if you are comfortable, accept non-traditionaldescriptions (such as yucky to describe taste, screechyto describe sound).3. Take many opportunities throughout the day to drawshort, focused attention to sensory activities (2-3 minuteseach). Continue to add the descriptive words and phrasesthat result from these activities to your class list. Someideas: At various times during the day ask the children toclose their eyes and describe what they hear or smell.Remember to add to your chart. After lunch, ask them to describe the taste of one foodthat they ate and to describe what it felt like in theirmouth and on their tongue. Put an object in a paper bag. Pass it around and havethe children put their hand in the bag and feel theobject without looking. Ask them to describe the objectand try to guess what it is. Sing a song in a high voice, then in a low voice; in aquiet voice and then a loud voice; in a squeaky voiceand then a growly voice. Have a child describe something in the classroom.The other children try to identify the object from thedescription.4. The day before the visit, explain that the children will betaking a “sensory tour” to the Portland Japanese Garden,concentrating on how it looks, sounds, feels and smells.Discuss the behavioral expectations with the children: It is important to stay on the path. They will not use the sense of taste in the Garden,except in an imaginary way. It is okay to feel the rocks underfoot, touch the railingof the bridge, etc. but grabbing or picking the plants isforbidden. 2009 Portland Japanese Garden. All rights reserved.3

Garden Sense: Exploring the Five SensesThe Visit to the GardenWhen you visit the Portland Japanese Garden, the children willmake a “sensory tour” of the Garden i.e. they will walk throughthe Garden focusing on one (or more) sense and will articulatewords that they associate with the experience. The senses ofsight, hearing, and touch will be the most accessible. The senseof smell is less obvious and the sense of taste is not used, exceptin an imaginary way at the Tea Garden.The TourYour tour through the Garden will be led by a Garden Guide whohas been trained to engage the children in this lesson. You willneed to tell your Guide the format you have chosen and how youhave decided to record the children’s descriptions. Your guidewill review the behavioral expectations with the children, beforebeginning the stroll through the Garden. 2009 Portland Japanese Garden. All rights reserved.Grades: K-2Decisions for the Teacher to Make Beforethe Visit1. Before your visit, please decide the most appropriateformat for your group. Some options you might consider: Choose one sense for the entire class to focus on.You might choose one sense for the first half ofthe Garden and one sense for the second half ofthe Garden. Choose two, three, or five senses for the entireclass to focus on. Assign a specific sense to each child. Let each child choose a sense to focus on.2. Decide how you want to record the children’s descriptions.Two options are: Have the teachers and chaperones record theobjects and the sensory descriptions of all thechildren. For example, under the sense of touch,they would record “bridge railing-rough.” Thisis the preferred method for all children and isessential for pre-writing children. Be preparedwith paper and pencils for all adults. Older children can record their own descriptions.(The attached Sensory Tour Worksheet canbe used for this purpose.) Keep in mind thatmost children will be very distracted from thesensory experience by the need to do their ownrecording. This method should probably only bechosen if you have a highly focused group withhighly independent writing ability or you do nothave enough adult chaperones to handle therecording for the group. Be prepared with paperand pencils.4

Garden Sense: Exploring the Five SensesGrades: K-2Prompts to engage the childrenWhile it is important not to deprive the children of the opportunity to make independent observations, there are manyprompts that you and the Tour Guide can use to engage the children and focus their observations when necessary. Someideas: Close your eyes and listen. What do you hear? What words describe the water? Turn all the way around in a circle, look up and down. How is the view different? Do objects look different in the sun and in the shade? Does it feel different when you walk on different surfaces? How many shades of green do you see? Keep track of all the colors that we see today. Can you hear something that you can’t see? Can you identify it? Pretend you are drinking tea at a tea ceremony. How does it taste? Can you see any reflections? How does an object look in its reflection? What do the two shapes in the Flat Garden look like? How does the railing on the Moon Bridge feel? What about the finials at the ends? Describe the shape of the railing on the veranda in front of the Flat Garden. What was your favorite smell? Watch for places that have “big views” and places that have “small views.” How does the air feel? Do you feel wind, dampness in the air, rain? Close your eyes. How do the footsteps on the gravel sound? Can you walk on the gravel without making any sound? Describe the colors and patterns of the koi. How does it feel to sit on the ground or the stone benches at the Sand and Stone Garden?ConsolidationBack at school, share thoughts about the Garden experience and make a classroom chart of all of the objects anddescriptive words that were compiled on the tour.Write a group story about the visit. (Older children may be able to write individual stories.) Some story starters might be: Did anything surprise you? Did you hear or see or smell or touch something you didn’t expect? What did you like best about the Garden? Which sense did we experience in an imaginary way? 2009 Portland Japanese Garden. All rights reserved.5

Garden Sense: Exploring the Five SensesSensory Tour WorksheetGrades: K-2Directions: Circle the sense you want to focus on during your walk. Write about or draw what you observe. 2009 Portland Japanese Garden. All rights reserved.

Garden Sense: Exploring the Five SensesExpansions of this Lesson Plan for Other LevelsGrades 3-5Students in this age group can experience a sensory tour with more defined expectations. Possibilities for expansioninclude: Students record their own observations. Students tour the Garden with assigned and defined expectations for observation and comparison such as: Describe the differences in the ground surfaces in the garden: how do they look, feel, sound? Describe and compare several stone lanterns, or other artifacts such as bridges. Compare the look, sound, smell and feel of two different gardens. Students classify the sensory attributes they experienced in the Garden with more defined guidelines. For example,choose an object (such as the waterfall) and indicate from which location it could be heard but not seen, from whichlocation it could be both seen and heard, and from which it could be neither seen nor heard. Or choose a location (suchas the Moon Bridge) and indicate what could be heard but not seen from the bridge, what could be heard and seen, andwhat could be neither heard nor seen. In the classroom, students produce an original piece of creative writing based on their sensory experience in the PortlandJapanese Garden.Grades 6-8Students in this age group can approach the tour from the point of view of a Japanese garden designer’s intention toprovide a total sensory experience. They will try to find examples of how the designer of the Portland Japanese Gardenmanipulated the environment to provide a total sensory experience. What methods and materials did the designer use to direct the view—framing, natural screening, hide-and-reveal,winding paths, asymmetry? Portland Japanese Garden Guides are trained to lead the children in these observations. What methods and materials did the designer use to provide sound—materials, location of the origin of the sound? What methods and materials did the designer use to incorporate the sense of touch—touching is not just with thehands, ground surface underfoot, contrast of rough railing on the Moon Bridge with smooth bronze finials at the endof the railing? Creative writing assignment: How I Would Design a Japanese Garden, etc. 2009 Portland Japanese Garden. All rights reserved.7

accompanies it. And one of the delights of an ordinary spring day at the Garden is the invigorating taste of rain in the air. Lesson Overview Japanese garden design thoughtfully engages the five senses (taste: tea from tea ceremony in tea garden) of the observer. In this lesson, students will take a sensory tour of the Portland Japanese Garden.

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