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Garden or outside words are great for active toddlers who like to be at the park or in the backyard!

  • These words are great as requests – swing , slide, park, pool
  • On walks you can do scavenger hunts or collections of leaves, sticks, rocks, flowers
  • Toddlers often like to look for the moon , stars in the sky.

Word List - Early Acquisition

flower, grass, moon, pool, rain, rock, shovel, sky, slide, star, stick, swing, sun, tree, water

Download a take-home word list below.

Play Themes

Here are some ideas for play themes centred around the garden or outside. 

1. Kids Size Gardening

Use some plastic pots, small spade and plant felt/plastic vegetables or flowers. Ikea has a good range of felt toys. Use a watering can and gloves to supplement your imaginative play. You can ‘water’ the flowers with your watering can and ‘plant’ them in play dough or sand.

2. Bug Time

Do a treasure hunt for real or plastic insects. Lots of new words can be learned in this game. This can be great fun in a sandpit or sand tray. Hide the bugs and use a shovel to dig around for them.

3. At the Park

Go for a picnic at the park (real or pretend) and collect things around you. Sticks, flowers, grass. There is also a mini version of this at Kmart that you can use with little Lego people and have them swinging or going in the pool.

Toys I love from Kmart

Insects Tube
Creature Keeper
Magnifying glass
Backyard Furniture

Downloads & Worksheets

Kids Books

Outside activities are another core group of vocabulary words that emerge early in a child’s life.  These include words about the garden, insects, planting, watering and playing outside.  All things that toddlers and preschoolers love!

  • Maisy Grows a Garden.  This is one of our favourites!  Beautifully selected vocabulary for this theme.  There are fruits, vegetables, insects and plenty of words like digging, pouring and watering.  A side panel on each page has some of the target pictures for your toddler to find on the page. Another great way to repeat some new words!  There are some nice pop up pictures too to keep it interesting.  Words to Try – carrot, strawberry, watering can, sunflower, dig, pour.

  • Doing the Garden. Another book in the Sarah Garland series.  Beautifully illustrated with a nice simple storyline.  Mum and the kids go to the Garden Centre to buy some seeds and then go home and plant them.  Help your toddler to use some repeated phrases such as ‘go shopping’ or ‘dig sand’.  Help your preschooler to tell the story back to you in the right order.  Words to Try – wheelbarrow, seeds, plants, grow.

  • Counting in the Garden. A simple book for toddlers who love counting and looking for things.  This book starts with 1 cat and then goes all the way to 10.  Lots of fun can be had looking for the items on each page among the flowers.    Great for phrases like ’1 cat’  ’2 turtles’.

  • Who’s in the Garden? This is a delightful book for babies and younger toddlers.  There are some peepo holes to look through.  Babies can point to many insects or animals in the garden on each page.  A lovely rhyming text makes for good listening.  You can use lots of single words here ‘rabbit’  ‘flower’.  Perhaps your toddler will also be able to finish the rhyme on each page with you.  ‘Bees buzzing from rose to…….’  Rose!

  • Bugs Galore.  This is another book which is perfect for 2-3 word phrases.  ‘Sad bug’  ‘squirmy little bug’ ‘black spider’.   Lots of descriptions help with learning these type of phrases.  There are also a range of insects to learn about – bug, spider, worms etc.  There is a beat to the nearly rhyming text too.  More suitable for older toddlers or preschoolers.  Words to Try – spider, bug, worm.

  • Growing Vegetable Soup.  This book illustrates digging the ground, planting the vegetables, harvesting them and making soup.  It is a great book for preschoolers to talk about sequences – beginning, middle and end.  You can always act out the story too (there is a recipe for the soup at the end).  Lots of gardening vocabulary too.

  • One Mole Digging a Hole. Colourful book by Julia Donaldson who is the master of rhyme!  This is a counting book with each page showing an animal doing something.  One mole digging a hole, two parrots pulling up carrots.  The rhyming quality is fantastic for preschoolers to learn about.  Of course the gardening vocabulary is very good too.  You can use sentence completion here to emphasis the rhyme.  One mole digging a …….. Hole!

  • I really wonder what plant I’m growing.  from the Charlie and Lola series.  This is a novelty book with puzzle and colouring page.

  • Superworm. Another Julia Donaldson book.  This is a longer more complex book for older preschoolers through to 7 years of age.  It’s a nice read-to book for children to listen to many times as they will see new things each time it is read.  You can spot the insects and talk about them.  You can also talk about how clever the worm is and how he might be saved in the end.  Words to Try – work, frog, snail.

  • Spider Sandwiches.  This is a ‘yukky’ book full of cockroach curry, beetle biscuits and much more.  What a fun way to learn some insect names!  There are lots of fun illustrations in this book which is suitable for preschoolers.  Words to Try – beetle, cockroach, spider.