Insects! Alphabet Book with Augmented Reality

by Rachel Mills in Winscombe, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 7th April 2020 we successfully raised £2,210 with 54 supporters in 35 days

A fun and unique insect-themed early years literacy book with augmented reality, encouraging real positive solutions to save insects.

by Rachel Mills in Winscombe, England, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

The extra cash will ensure we can create the best-augmented reality experience possible from the artist's beautiful insect illustrations. Every pledge will enhance and speed up the production of the book. 

Introducing the Insects! Alphabet & Phonics Book

Using both rich visuals and augmented reality our insect alphabet book will help in developing children's early year's literacy skills whilst drawing attention to the plight of insects. 

The book combines facts, phonics with an easy to use smartphone/tablet app to make insects accessible everyday creatures. The augmented reality gives the illusion of eye-popping 3D insects coming out of the book and into the real world. The app will overlay interactive information about insects, conservation and more as you point the camera of your smartphone or tablet towards the images of the book. 

Aimed at children age 4+ and their grown-ups too, we hope to empower both groups to appreciate the world of insects whilst learning letter sounds. Designed in consultation with early years experts and aligned to curriculum. 

Bringing a focus on how important insects are to the Earth and the survival of the human race, the book will explain how they are vital for the pollination of the plants we eat and how we would all be in big trouble if insects disappeared.

This project was inspired by my daughter. 

When my daughter was given a book on bees for her first birthday it made me consider how few insects we saw in our back garden compared to my own 80's childhood. I had already noticed for many years that we didn't see many unfortunate insects on vehicle windscreens or hear the sounds made by grasshoppers. 

Watching my daughter learn to read and her enjoyment at sounding out letter sounds sparked the idea of combining both her love of phonics and nature. Many alphabet books and phonics schemes use fiction driven words and images, but many kids are thirsty for more real-world knowledge, just like my curious child.

Our mission is to educate young children to ensure the survival of insects and our planet for future generations to come. 

Insects could vanish within a century at the current rate of decline. 

The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, states that intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors. 

But we CAN do something about this. With your help, this project sets out to enable children to directly engage with conservation issues and take one small step towards a cleaner, healthier planet.

Cover Mockup of Insect Alphabet and Phonics Book (example only, not in print)

In this fun-filled book, children can explore the amazing world of insects and see the challenges facing insects from climate change, habitat loss and teach them ways in which they can help to overcome these problems. 

This book takes a fresh approach by concentrating on real positive actions to help solve real-world problems. Offering up simple and practical ideas on how children (and their carers) can become positively engaged in preventing further insect population decline in their local area and communities. 

This book will have wide appeal to families, educators, eco/forest schools, and community groups. If you are interested in environmental issues and want to empower children to make good choices for the planet then this book is for you!

We can ALL make a positive difference in the world.

Children can explore the book through all their senses. It can be read simply as you would a normal book. Alongside listening, your child can trace the textured letters and follow the arrows to learn the shapes and forms of letters. 

Guided by their carer/s, children can use the accessible companion app on any smartphone or tablet to listen to a wide range of recorded sounds (letter sounds/nature sounds) and explore audio descriptions whilst watching in delight as the insects seem to come to life and pop off the page with augmented reality. 

The book is currently at the development stage. In order to further develop the project, we are seeking funding to refine the book design and content with specialists; including early years teachers, scientists, illustrators, animators, and app developers. 

This crew of specialists is all lined up and raring to get going and enable us to push past the development stage and into final production. The aim is to get the book fully developed and published this year.  

Mock up of Insect Alphabet Book

Page Mockup of Insect Alphabet and Phonics Book (example only)

We need to get this into as many children’s hands as possible, so they can enjoy the interactive experience and learn about the real, achievable solutions for themselves and the adults in their lives. 

The project has already had rave reviews 

Children, organisations, and educators love the idea! 

Read a few of the reviews below

We will donate 5% of profits directly to groundbreaking organisations studying and preventing insect population decline.

Project Lead  

Hi, I'm Rachel Mills. From the age of 19, I have been actively interested in pursuing a lifestyle that is sustainable, plastic-free and in keeping with nature. 

After studying Children's Book illustration at Glasgow School of Art, I worked in the creative industries on animation production for children's television and have been an Animation educator for the past 14 years.

I enjoy working with animation degree students to produce live sustainable/natural world charity briefs. I've always been entrepreneurial, trying to find positive work and green lifestyle opportunities. 

Coming from the North East, I have settled in the South West with my family, living out in the country and dreaming of working on Buttercup Learning projects from our garden studio surrounded by wildlife and a wildflower meadow when I am not teaching the next generation of animators.  

The Teacher

Anna Matthews was an early years foundation leader for over 9 years. She has been employed in various independent and local authority schools, teaching 3-7-year-olds (nursery, reception, year 1 and year 2) She enjoys supporting young children and their parents in a fun learning environment. Anna currently runs Leaping Learners teaching small groups and one to one fun-filled phonics and maths classes. Rachel met Anna through her daughter's Leaping Learners class.

The final text and images will have input from teachers in the classroom and, most importantly, the children. The final draft will be worked on by a copywriter, a children’s book illustrator, and an entomologist who will ensure that the science behind the book is accurate.

One of our key aims is to take the book into schools and see the book on library shelves, so all children can access it. 

If the Insect augmented book proves popular, Rachel has further plans for more augmented reality natural world books that will continue to explore other sustainable themes and literacy skills.

Rachel at Buttercup Learning is looking forward to exciting times, helping to empower the next generation of conservationists and naturalists. With your help, this project can become a reality.

This stage of funding will cover:   

  • Augmented Reality insects development 
  • Illustrator
  • Science and Early Years Content Editors: Teacher, Entomologist 
  • Marketing costs, to raise further app development funding
  • Crowdfunding fees

Now we need your help! We’re aiming to raise £1,000 towards our first augmented reality book. The more money you pledge, the quicker we can get to the production and publication stage and start to spread our very important message that will help to protect our insect populations and make the world a better place for our children.  

As part of the 'Bring it 2020' campaign Natwest will
* Pledge £50 towards my business
* Give up to £450 in extra funding
* I could also win up to £10,000 of grant funding to start up the business.

Want to write an article about us? Download our press kit here:   

Press Kit        




When will I receive my reward?

We estimate that, within six weeks of reaching our target, you will receive your reward. The one to one video calls for sustainable family tips will be scheduled in April/May (dates and times negotiable by calendar appointment).

When will the Insect Alphabet go on sale to the general public?

We are aiming for the book to go on sale within a year.

We are a book shop and would like to stock the book once it is published, will that be possible? 

Yes! Please email Rachel who will register your interest. [email protected]

We have a Zero Waste shop, will we be able to stock it? 

We hope every Zero Waste shop across the country will be stockists. Please email Rachel who will register your interest. [email protected]

How much do you anticipate the book will cost to purchase?

The book will be £25.99 plus P&P. We want the book's message to be accessible to all. FREE activities to complement the book will be available online to preschools, schools and nursery settings and for carer/s to access at home. 

Why are you encouraging children to look after insects? Surely it should be government bodies and farming corporations?

It’s proven that individuals can play a huge role in how governments and companies behave and what products they create. If we all use fewer pesticides then companies will look to more environmentally friendly products. 

Why aim this book at young children?

Children have a natural affinity to look after creatures. They might not do the planting or garden product shopping, but they will learn from a young age to feel comfortable with refusing products and lifestyles that aren't good for the environment and will inspire each other. Children are the future politicians, policymakers, heads of industry, capitalists, and consumers of the world.  

What are your connections to the chosen organisations who will receive donations from the book?

I don't have any personal connections to the chosen organisations, but they have been picked simply on their merit for the amazing work they do in education, awareness, and projects that have a real impact. 

How much will the organisations that you’re supporting receive? 

That depends on how many books are sold in the future. A percentage from the proceeds will go to the organisations.

Will the book be available outside of the UK?

We will try to avoid air freight. Buttercup is keen to give an option to have copies delivered via ship but, naturally, that will take a lot longer. We will look also at the alternative option of using a local eco printer in the country concerned but this will be dependent on costs.

I have more questions, who do I contact?

Rachel at the following email: [email protected]

Thank you for reading all of this page. Looking forward to sharing our adventure with you, to bring the Insect Alphabet Book to your bookshelf.  





This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£20 or more

2 of 100 claimed

Bug Postcard

Donate £20 and receive a fun bug postcard. Share that you care about insects and the planet. Printed with eco inks on recycled stock.

£5 or more

2 of 50 claimed

£5 or more

A huge public thank you on social media- every little helps :-D

£40 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Mini Bug Hotel

Upcycled Mini bug hotel

£300 or more

0 of 10 claimed

20 min one to one sustainable lifestyle call

Access Rachel's sustainable knowledge through a one to one video call

£500 or more

0 of 20 claimed

Lifetime access to Buttercup Forest School

Lifetime access to the online Buttercup Forest School. A fun educational site we are building for outdoor learning and activities

£1,000 or more

0 of 3 claimed

Personalised augmented reality Insect artwork

We will design and create an augmented insect or nature-themed artwork for you. This will work with an app that you can download and use on your smartphone or tablet. The A1 printed artwork will be printed with eco inks on recycled paper stock. It will be unframed to ensure easy delivery by post.

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