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




Make sure you have a good set of plastic insects.  Accessories include watering can, garden gloves and bug catcher.


1. Bug Time 

Do a treasure hunt for real or plastic insects.  Lots of new words can be learned in this game.

2. 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.

3. At the Park 

Go for a picnic at the park (real or pretend) and collect things around you. Sticks, flowers, grass.


picture 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.