Growing Language in the Garden

With spring and summer come gardening and the perfect opportunity to grow your child’s language in the garden. As a speech-language pathologist, I know the best ways to develop speech and language skills are through everyday experiences and play! So why not encourage your child to join you in the garden while helping them to learn?

Speech and Language Skills to Grow in the Garden

  • Vocabulary! With new experiences come opportunities to learn new vocabulary words.  

While in the garden with your child, be sure to model new vocabulary words by talking about what you’re doing while you’re doing it (i.e., “I’m watering the flowers,” “ I’m planting the seed.” etc.).  

It’s also beneficial to repeat these new words over and over! The more repetitions your child hears, the faster they learn and begin to use these new vocabulary words too (i.e., “I have a shovel.” “I dig with the shovel.” “The shovel is in the dirt.” etc.).  

Here are a few ideas for vocabulary words that can be focused on in the garden:

  • Nouns: seed, flower, petal, leaf, dirt, soil, shovel, trowel, rake, pot, watering can
  • Verbs: dig, rake, water, pour, pick
  • Sequencing! The ability to sequence activities and talk about them is an essential part of language development. Encourage your child to use these sequential concepts while in the garden by talking about the steps required for a flower to grow. Model and use transition words like first, then, next and last (i.e., “First, we dig a hole in the dirt. Next, we plant the seed. Then we water the seed. Last, we wait for the flower to grow!”).
  • Descriptive language! Please help your child develop their language even further by describing things you see within the garden. Talk about the different colors, textures, shapes, and sizes that you see around you. Make it extra fun by turning it into a game, like “I Spy!” Describe something you see to your child and see if they can identify it, then see if your child can do it back! Here are a few descriptors that would be fun to discuss while in the garden: wet/dry, short/tall, full/empty, big/small, rough/smooth, color names.

Continue Growing Language by Bringing the Garden Indoors

Learning about a garden doesn’t just have to happen in a physical garden. Children often reenact their personal experiences within their pretend play. This is how they learn! By providing garden-themed toys to your child, like New Sprouts Grow It, you can encourage them to bring their experiences in the garden to their play.  

With three interchangeable pots, a shovel, a watering can, a carrot, a radish, and two flowers, the Learning Resources New Sprouts Grow It! The toddler gardening set allows children to use their imagination to create their very own garden. This toy continues to build knowledge and understanding of the plant life cycle while encouraging fun, of course!  

Other Ways to Give Your Child the Experience of a Garden

Don’t have a garden of your own? That’s OK! There are different ways that you can work on these skills outside of a personal garden at your home. Here are a few ideas:

  • Consider joining or visiting a community garden. Many times you can find these at local churches or community centers.  
  • Take a walk and talk about the different plants you see out and around your community.
  • Spend a day at a local orchard picking fruits. Many orchards have u-pick blueberries, strawberries, and more!
  • Read books about gardening and plants together.