Early Language Activities

Using Everyday Objects for Language: In The Garden

Continuing with our series on using everyday objects for language. On Week 8 we will focus on all things garden. We will have 4-5 activities and crafts to complete throughout the week. My goal is to keep it simple and use only items you likely already have or can substitute easily (after all- we are trying to social distance!). Want to take a peek at what we’re doing?

Get the Packet

Get the packet HERE

In this packet you will find:

  • 8 activities with 4 visual directions that make it easy for your child to follow along (and help retell after!)
  • 5 worksheets for additional practice/creativity
  • 1 Snack Craft


Monday: DIY Rain Gauge

Tuesday: Garden Sensory Bin

Wednesday: Soda Bottle Watering Can

Thursday: Grass in a Cup

Friday: Create a Plant Snack

Saturday: Stone Painting


DIY Rain Gauge

Materials Needed:


  1. Gather all materials listed on Visual Directions.  This is a great opportunity to go on a nature hunt for rocks! For toddlers keep it simple “Look for more, Put in” or maybe even work on the word “not” (that is a rock, that is not a rock).  For older kids talk about what you are looking for- a specific color, size, and quantity. You can compare and contrast rocks as you find them.
  2. Parent: Cut the top of the bottle off.  I used a knife to make the original puncture and then it was easy to cut from there. While you’re cutting narrate. “I am cutting the top off. Cut, cut, cut all the way around. The top came off!”.
  3. Tell your child you are finished and check off the step.
  4. Hand the child the bottle. Tell them to touch the bottom. With your support, draw a line around the bottom (where you will start measuring from). When finished, check off the step.
  5. Add pebbles to the line. Tell your child to “put pebbles in”. When they get to the line say “stop! You are at the line”. Check off the direction.
  6. Give your child a cup or small pitcher and tell them to “add water” to the line.  When they get there say “stop! It is at the line” (if they go over don’t worry- you can always pour out. This is a natural opportunity to work on more/less). Check off direction when finished.
  7. Hold a ruler up. With your help, have your child mark to show how much rain you have collected (we marked every half inch, but do what works for you!). Say the number and then “here” to indicate they need to draw a line.
  8. “Get the top.” “Put top on upside down”.  If your child is able to follow the direction but puts it on top, say “turn it over” and correct.
  9. Tape the two pieces together.
  10. Put rain gauge outside and check on it periodically to see how much you have collected!

Garden Sensory Bin

Materials Needed:

  • Bucket/Tub
  • Filler (dirt, black beans, rice)
  • Plant/Food items found in the garden (we used our vegetable puzzle from LovEvery)

How to Use for Language

  • If you are new to the world of sensory bins and your child is young- I strongly encourage you to read How to Introduce Sensory Bins to Your Toddler before getting started.
  • Requesting: Put the sensory bin just out of reach but in line of your child. Have them request (pointing, “want”/”(item name)”, “I want”, “I want ______ please”) based on their level of communication. Then add 1 word to it (this is called language expansion). Periodically as they play do this over and over- putting the lid on, holding onto the tool so they have to request, moving just out of reach, etc.
  • Labeling Vocabulary: As the child finds the different objects (typically theme related- here it is vegetables) have the name the item. If they don’t say the name, label it and have them try to imitate.
  • Expanding Words to Phrases/Phrases to Sentences: Once your child knows the vocabulary you can expand to a phrase (or phrase to sentences). Use a repetitive sentence (it can be different every time you use this sensory bin) to practice making phrases/sentences. Some possibilities:
    • “Found Carrot”/ “I found a Carrot”
    • “Got Carrot”/ “I got a carrot”
    • “See Carrot”/ “I see a carrot”
    • “It Carrot”/ “It is a carrot!”
  • Following Directions:
    • Level 1 (1 year olds): “Find the ______” (naming the item). See if the child can find it then have them name it.
    • Level 2 (2 year olds +): “Find something that is orange and triangular (carrot)” Give details as clues for the child to make the inference and find the described object.
    • Level 3 (2-3 year olds +): Have them put the items in the sensory bin. “Put the carrot above the shovel”. “Put the onion next to/beside the lettuce”. If you want to work on prepositions with your 1 year old, start with “put in, take out”.
  • Describing: As your child picks up each item have them describe it by talking about what it looks and feels like. If this is easy for them have them tell your more about what they know about each items (parts, category, what it does, sounds it may make, where you find it, etc.). If your child is still at the labeling stage you can model this every time they name an item found so they are hearing this language skill in action.

Soda Bottle Watering Can

Materials Needed:

  • Visual Directions
  • Soda Bottle
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Sharp object to poke holes (we used metal skewers, a sharp nail may work too)


  1. Print off visual directions & Setup work space (cover table, pull out art smock,etc.)
  2. Parent: Poke 8-10 holes at the top of the bottle. Your child can watch but you need to do this. A metal skewer worked great for this. A nail may also. I recommend doing this at the beginning so you have a dry bottle to hold onto.
  3. Pointing to and labeling each picture, have your child help you find each item. Let them request (pointing, words, sentence, question- whatever their highest level is) the colors they want to use.
  4. Put all materials on the table and read through directions. If your child is in preschool or older, have them retell the steps as you point to each one with them.
  5. Tip: Tape the bottle to the work space if you don’t want to be holding it the whole time.
  6. Put the paint out for the child to use but withhold the paintbrush. Observe how they problem solve- do they sit and wait, use their hands, or immediately tell you what you forgot? Prompt if they sit and wait with “What are you missing?”. If they use their hands, say “That’s one way but we could use a paintbrush too. Want the paintbrush?”
  7. When the child is finished painting set aside to dry. “The paint is wet. We need it to dry.”
  8. When the paint has had time to dry, grab your soda watering bottle and fill it with water. “We need to put water in” (or simply “water in/put in” for single word speakers).
  9. Look around the room and say….”Hmmm… what can we use this for?” Give your child a chance to take you to a plant that needs watering. If they don’t walk over to one and say “does this plant need water?” or “let’s water this plant!”
  10. Let your child help with watering the plants using their new watering bottle every time you need now! This is a great semi-supervised chore.

Grass in a Cup

Materials Needed:


  1. Print off visual directions.
  2. Pointing to and labeling each picture, have your child help you find each item. As you find them say “You got the ____. Put it on/Take it to the table”.
  3. Read through directions. If your child is in preschool or older, have them retell the steps as you point to each one with them.
  4. Give your child the shovel and tell them “put dirt in the cup”. For preschoolers: keep the dirt just out of reach so they have to recognize they need to ask for the dirt. If they sit there instead, point to the visual and say “Are you missing something?”.
  5. “Get the seeds”. Once they bring the seeds in front of them, narrate what they look and feel like. “These seeds are tiny and blue. They go in the dirt.”
  6. Tell your child to “Sprinkle/Put the seeds on the dirt”
  7. Using a watering can (or your soda watering bottle!) water the dirt and seeds.
  8. Ask your child to find a sunny spot to keep the grass and tell them that they will need to water it every day. Your child may choose inside or outside, just make sure it gets sun. Warning: if outside you may want to make a drain hole. It rained 7 inches the week we did this an our grass outside was waterlogged quickly!

Create A Plant Snacktivity

Materials Needed:

  • Worksheet (alternative: have your child draw their own flower with all parts)
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Spinach/Basil
  • Celery or Cucumber Sticks
  • For Center Sunflower Seeds or Ranch/Hummus


  1. Prep veggies and put each on a tray. Tip: have extra for munching on while you do the snacktivity!
  2. Print off the worksheet (or have your child get a crayon/marker and piece of paper) and go outside. “Let’s go find a flower!” (if it’s raining- find a flower in a planter in the house)
  3. When you find one, take a moment to just observe.
  4. Touching each part, name them and describe. Narrate what each part is for.
  5. As you discuss each part have the child find the item on the paper, or draw it.
  6. Once you have identified and labeled all the parts, head back inside (or to a picnic table).
  7. Point to the veggies. Label each one (or have your child!).
  8. Look at the worksheet and say “Let’s see if we can make a flower using these vegetables.”
  9. Describe each vegetable and compare to the part of the flower it could be used for (broccoli- rounded like the petals, spinach- a leaf like the leaf of a flower, celery- straight like the stem, carrots- a root just like the roots of a flower).
  10. Create your vegetable snack-tivity and eat up!

Stone Painting

Materials Needed:


  1. Print off the visual directions.
  2. Point to each items on the materials list and have your child get them. Use prepositions to help them find each one “look under the ____, look in the ______”, etc. Label each item found. For older kids- ask them what they think you will do with each item.
  3. Let your child request paint colors.
  4. Draw a design: For younger children this will simply be painting (We will use ours for garden markers- but I will write on top of their art). For older children they may want to draw a plant to use as a marker in the garden.
  5. “The stone is wet. We need to let it dry.” Set stone aside.
  6. Add your stone paintings to the garden or planter! Use it to help recall the names of the plants you have planted. That way when you go in the garden you can talk about how each of the plants are changing as they grow.

Our Favorite Books Related to the Garden:

For Toddlers:

For Preschoolers and Older:

I hope you have enjoyed our week of all things gardening and your child has expanded their vocabulary! If you want even more “worksheets” for your child to use during this week you can find my garden unit with additional activities, crafts, and worksheets HERE. Check out Garden Week Story Highlights on Instagram for more on each of these activities

Remember- the key is slowing down, being repetitive, and staying intentional during your time together. Let me know if your child learned any new vocabulary throughout this week! And if you do any of the crafts please share with me @languageandplaydates on Instagram!

This is part of a 12 week series. Check out activities from previous weeks:

Want ALL of the packets with the visual directions? Grab the bundle HERE!


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