Today we're going to hear from Kat, a librarian who wrote us a fantastic article about ways to foster learning at the grocery store. Take it away, Kat!
Recently I was commiserating with a friend about the difficulty of grocery shopping with young kids in tow. Thankfully, my children are beyond the age where they beg to go with me as soon as they hear the jingle of car keys, but I remember those days vividly.
So, how can you keep little ones occupied while shopping, short of letting them snack their way through the store? Believe it or not, the grocery store is a great place to teach early language and pre-math skills.
For the youngest ones, even infants, it’s as simple as talking to them while you shop. Skip the baby talk and chatter away about what you’re doing. Talk about the colors, shapes, and sounds around you. Yes, other shoppers may stare, but even the youngest babies develop brain connections and learn the sounds and patterns of language just by listening.
As they get older and begin to understand simple concept such as colors and shapes, let them help you look for things: “Let’s see how many round things we see.” “Let’s look for something in a green box.” You can also introduce simple counting activities: “We need two boxes of cereal.” “Let’s pick out six red apples.”
A child’s powers of observation can be strengthened with a simple game of I Spy. Ask your child to look for a tomato, an orange, something square, or something round. Another fun game is Bear Hunt. Challenge him to find a picture of a bear (you’d be surprised how many food packages have bears on them). Keep count of how many things he finds. As an added bonus, if he’s busy counting bears, he might not be clamoring for sugary cereals or cookies.
During the preschool years, the supermarket is a great place to reinforce letter sounds. Pick a “letter of the day” and look for things that start with that sound. “Our letter of the day is P. What can we find that starts with P? Potatoes, pickles, popcorn…” For a child mature enough to recognize individual letters in print, advance the game a little more by challenging her to find packages with the letter of the day printed on them.
Once your child has mastered counting, introduce some basic addition and grouping concepts. “We’re buying two tubes of toothpaste, and each one costs two dollars. Two dollars plus two dollars is four dollars.” “We’re buying apples, bananas, and pears. That’s three kinds of fruit.”
Comparisons and spatial relations are pre-math skills that teach vocabulary as well. Challenge your child to look for something higher than his head or lower than his belly button. Help him identify the smallest item in your cart, or the biggest watermelon in the bin. Ask him to look for something on the shelf above the noodles or below the cereal.
By incorporating a few of these simple ideas into a routine chore, you‘ll not only have a smoother shopping trip, you’ll also be preparing your child for smooth sailing when it’s time for kindergarten.
Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Kat!
I could really use a few new volunteers for the Reader Spotlight - so please write in if you have a story to tell! Your post can be about almost anything to do with couponing. You can tell us about a particularly good or bad situation you’ve dealt with as a couponer, about how you got into couponing or how couponing has impacted the rest of your life, you can make a list of things every new couponer should know…just about anything, really! If you think it’s interesting and it has to do with couponing, email me with your idea at contactiheartpublix @ gmail.com!