Green Thumbs & Bilingual Brains: Gardening with Kids… | Sol Book Box


Green Thumbs & Bilingual Brains: Gardening with Kids for Fun & Learning!


I come from a long line of gifted, green thumbed gardeners. Some of my earliest memories are of my abuela’s balcony overbrimming with spindly leaves, long stalks, and fragrant flowers, many of which reminded her of her garden in Cuba. My mamá often kept orchids in the bathroom, a money tree plant with foot long braided stems, and just out of reach, otherworldly cacti that grew to tower over us, one of which I later learned she brought straight from Peru in a bag when she immigrated to Miami. And me? I’ve either drowned or scorched every plant I’ve owned. That is, until my six year old showed an interest in gardening and the gardener in me sprouted.

It all started on a temperate, 80 degree afternoon when our local book fair threw an Earth day event. Here we were gifted with gardening books, seeds, and a pot full of seed starter soil. We were also given a variety of seeds to choose from: sunflower, basil, dill, and shasta daisy. As a big fan of sunflower butter and pickles, my kiddo decided we’d begin with the sunflower and the dill. Less than two weeks later, the sunflower was already inches high. The dill was a little slower to grow but is now producing a healthy selection of dill clusters.

The wonderful world of gardening has been a learning and joyous experience for our family where muddy hands, giggles, and blossoming curiosity reign. Not only has gardening fostered a love for nature and sustainable practices, but it's also been an ideal playground for bilingual learning. So, grab your shovels and let's dig into the incredible journey of cultivating green thumbs and bilingual brains!

Getting Started: The Magic of Seeds

The first step to igniting a passion for gardening is to sow the seeds of curiosity. Gather a variety of seeds, from colorful flowers to fragrant herbs, and let your kids marvel at the diverse shapes and sizes. Encourage them to ask questions and explore the unique traits of each seed. This early engagement will pique their interest in botany, plant diversity, and ecoconsciousness.

Hands-On Fun: Planting and Caring for Seedlings

Now, it's time to get those hands dirty! Involve your little gardeners in planting the seeds and caring for their seedlings. Teach them about the right amount of water, sunlight, and love that plants need to thrive. As they nurture their green friends, they'll learn the value of responsibility and patience.

Cultivating Bilingual Skills: Labeling in Two Languages

Introduce gardening vocabulary in both English and Spanish (see a starter list of 50 vocabulary words below). As you water and tend to the garden, practice describing seeds, the parts of a plant, gardening tools, or the plant life cycle. This interactive and tactile approach enhances language learning while deepening their connection to the Earth.

Flower - Flor
Plant - Planta
Seed - Semilla
Soil - Tierra / Suelo
Water - Agua
Sun - Sol
Garden - Jardín
Gardener - Jardinero/a
Weed - Maleza / Hierba
Mulch - Mulch / Mantillo
Compost - Compost / Abono orgánico
Prune - Podar
Harvest - Cosechar / Recolectar
Sprout - Brote / Germinar
Root - Raíz
Fertilizer - Fertilizante
Herbs - Hierbas / Hierbas aromáticas
Vegetable - Verdura / Hortaliza
Fruit - Fruta
Blossom - Floración
Transplant - Trasplantar
Trowel - Paleta / Pala de jardinería
Rake - Rastrillo
Wheelbarrow - Carretilla
Hose - Manguera
Pruning shears - Tijeras de podar
Gardening gloves - Guantes de jardinería
Sunlight - Luz solar / Luz del sol
Photosynthesis - Fotosíntesis
Chlorophyll - Clorofila
Carbon Dioxide - Dióxido de Carbono
Oxygen - Oxígeno
Transpiration - Transpiración
Germination - Germinación
Pollination - Polinización
Fertilization - Fertilización
Growth - Crecimiento
Nutrients - Nutrientes
Insects - Insectos
Microorganisms - Microorganismos
Soil pH - pH del Suelo
Soil Texture - Textura del Suelo
Mulching - Mulching / Acolchado
Pruning - Poda
Grafting - Injerto
Hybridization - Hibridación
Propagation - Propagación
Drought - Sequía
Frost - Helada
Temperature - Temperatura

Garden Reading: Unleashing Imagination

Let your kids unleash their creativity with garden storytelling. Encourage them to invent imaginative tales about the plants and the critters living in their green sanctuary. This storytelling exercise promotes language development, imaginative thinking, and emotional expression. New research also shows that talking to plants helps them grow. This could be a great way to encourage kids to read their books from Sol Book Box (I am especially fond of ¿Por qué no floreces? by Katarína Macurová).

Here are our sunflower plants now! We’ve been measuring it every week or so and they’re now nearly two feet tall.

Multi-Cultural Planting: Embracing Diversity

Expand your garden's horizons by growing plants from different cultures and regions. Explain the cultural significance of these plants and how they are used in various cuisines and traditions. This not only nurtures an appreciation for diversity but also broadens your kids' horizons beyond the borders.

Gardening with kids offers a world of joy, wonder, and growth - both in the garden and in their language skills. Let's sow the seeds of curiosity, cultivate green thumbs, and nurture bilingual brains together in the magical realm of the garden! Happy Sol Book Box gardening!

Recommended Reading

¿Por qué no floreces?

This fun, colorful book about a little bear tending to his garden tells a story from two distinct points of view. A great lesson about the subjectivity of our own experiences!

Sueños en el jardin

Did you or your little one ever wonder what bugs talk about? Sing along as the dragonfly, beetle, snail, and cicada get together to discuss their dreams.

Todo en su Lugar

Spring has sprung in this delightful sing-song book where birds, animals and insects abound. A cheerful, funny introduction to some of nature's creatures.

La huerta de Simón

Winner of the Compostela International Prize for Illustrated Album, this book is a praise of cooperative work and harmony with nature.

En busca de la flor Mildestellos dorada

A genuine love for the natural world permeates this story of one fox's adventure to find a mysterious flower. With colorful, geometric-style illustrations and a valuable message of conservation.


Karina Batchelor is a proud Latinx mama from Miami, la ciudad magica. She's a longtime educator, writer, and creative who holds multiple degrees in varied areas of study. Her qualifications have seen her excel across the US and the UK in various sectors of the education and theatre industry. You can often find her with a cafecito in hand at the nearest library, her homeschooling cooperative, or at the theatre, where she works as a professional dramaturg.

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