A Gardener’s Alphabet, by Mary Azarain

So many new words to learn about the garden all done with beautiful detailed pictures.


  • 1-10 plastic cups, labeled with the numbers 1-2-3-etc.
  • Many plastic or silk flowers (if you have just the heads, use pipe cleaners for stems.)
  • Old play dough
  • Small basket and several dish towels
  • Sheet of poster board or large piece of paper
  • 1-2 potted plants (since you will be pulling these out of the pot, you do not need a fancy plant. I have stuffed garden weeds into a cup as a potted plant to do this project)


  • Arbor (a little nook or gazebo)
  • Bulbs (some plants grow from seeds, and some plants grow from bulbs)
  • Compost (food scraps that you let deteriorate to make dirt for your garden)
  • Greenhouse (a house made out of glass so you can grow things in the cold weather)
  • Manure (animal poop that you can put in your compost)
  • Nibble (to take little bites or tastes)
  • Topiary (to make fancy shapes out of bushes)
  • Weed (to take out all the plants you do not want in the garden)
  • Xeriscape (a garden that needs hardly any watering at all!)

Introducing the Story

Talk to the children about their gardening experiences. Do they have a garden at home? What do they grow, vegetables or flowers? Do you have a garden at school? How do the children help maintain it? Tell the children that today’s book is about words that tell about a garden. Ask the children if they can think of any words that tell about a garden and write them on a large piece of paper (dirt, zucchini, smells good, sprinkler, seeds). Introduce the book and as you go through the pages, help define what each word is.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.

Reading the Story

As you read each page, introduce the letter it represents, its letter sound and point to it at the beginning of each word. Take your time reading the story allowing the children to talk about what they see on the page and experiences that come from looking at the pictures.

Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge; identifies at least 10 letters of the alphabet, especially those in their own name. Knows that letters of the alphabet are a special category of visual graphics that can be individually named.

After Reading the Story

Open the book up randomly to a page, Say the letter name and the word that corresponds with it; M-manure. Ask the children if they can think of any other words that start with the letter sound /M/ for manure?   Do several pages. This could also be used as a transition activity. Let the child open the book, see if they can name the first letter of the word, say the word and think of another that begins with that letter sound.

Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge; identifies at least 10 letters of the alphabet, especially those in their own name. Knows that letters of the alphabet are a special category of visual graphics that can be individually named.

Music and Movement

Sing or chant while doing motions that go along;

Dig a little hole and put the seed in.
Cover it with dirt and let the sun shine in.
Add a little water, to keep it fed,
Soon a little plant will show its head.

Creative Arts/Music; participates with increasing interest and enjoyment in a variety of music activities, including listening, singing, finger plays, games, and performances.


Bring in several real plants in pots. Ask the children if they can name the parts of the plant (leaves, petals, stem, flower). If not, help them to name. Count the leaves, smell the flower, etc.). Pull the plant out of the soil and show the children the roots of the plant. Give them pieces of paper and encourage them to draw the plant. You can label their plant parts with them when they are finished drawing.

Science/Scientific Skills; develops growing abilities to collect, describe, and record information through a variety of means, including discussion, drawings, maps, and charts.


Ahead of time, trace around blocks onto a piece of poster board or large paper. Lay this out in the center and challenge the children to find the correct blocks to lie over the traced shapes. When we did our garden unit, we made flower type shapes using the blocks and traced them onto the poster board.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; begins to be able to determine whether or not two shapes are the same size and shape.


Look on the Internet for flower collage projects to do with preschoolers. There are many different and lovely ideas. Pick one and let the children collage flowers today.

Creative Arts/Art; develops growing abilities to plan, work independently, and demonstrate care and persistence in a variety of art projects.

Sand and Water

Bring the play fruits and vegetables from the dramatic center today and let the children wash them in the water table.   As they wash them, they can dry them with a dishtowel and place in a small basket. Washing our harvest so we can eat it, yummy.   Can the children name the various vegetables? Remind them that by washing the vegetables, you are removing any dirt and manure that still might be on them. This is a healthy habit.

Physical Health & Development/Health Status & Practices; builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules such as fire safety, traffic and pedestrian safety, and responding appropriately to potentially harmful objects, substances, and activities.

Library and Writing

Put out seed catalogs for the children look at. For your oldest children, encourage them to write the names of the flowers or foods that they would like to grow. Show them where to find the name of the plant on the page of the catalog.

Literacy/Early Writing; progresses from scribbles, shapes or pictures to represent ideas, to using letter-like symbols, to copying or writing familiar words such as their own name.

Dramatic Play

If you have extra silk flower heads today, let the children arrange them into a plastic vase (an old mayonnaise jar works well) and put them onto the dramatic table.

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; participates in a variety of dramatic play activities that become more extended and complex.

Math and Manipulaties

Ahead of time label plastic cups 1-10 depending upon the age of your children and the numbers that you are working on. In each cup put a ball of play dough that fills the bottom ½ of the cup. Put out the silk/plastic flowers on the table. Encourage the children to add the proper number of flowers to each cup (#3=three silk flowers)

Mathematics/Number & Operations; develops increased abilities to combine, separate, and name “how many” concrete objects.

Outdoor Play

Plant a garden or work in your classroom garden with the children. If you do not have a school garden, pretend to plant a garden in the sandbox. Use shovels to make rows and acorns, rocks, or pinecones to be the ‘seeds’.

Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; approaches tasks and activities with increased flexibility, imagination, and inventiveness.

Bring out scissors and let the children cut the grass.

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; develops growing strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer.


Explain to the children that in the garden one can find many colors. Dismiss the children to the next activity by colors that they are wearing. If they are proficient in colors, use patterns in tier clothing (stripes, polka dots, words, numbers, plaid, etc.).


Dear Parents, Today we read an alphabet book about gardening. Play a game with your child using the letters in their name. Write the letters, not in the correct order, and ask them if they can name the letters. If not tell them the letter name and also the letter sound. Then take your finger and point to the letters in the correct order of your child’s name and slowly say their name saying each letter and then each syllable.

About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.