Can grocery shopping with children be fun and educational? You bet! Grocery stores are literally stocked with learning opportunities children of all ages will enjoy. Here are just a few math and literacy activities you may want to add to your list, next time you and your child go shopping together.
Math Activities for Younger Children
• Opportunities for number recognition and counting are everywhere! How many wheels are on your grocery cart? How many aisles are in the store? How many people are in the aisles? How many grocery-store workers does your child see? How many items are in your cart? How many people are in the checkout lines? Have your child look for numbers—on signs above each aisle, on signs at the ends of aisles, on price tags on shelves, and on the cash-register screen as your items are scanned.
• Compare the different sizes of similar items, such as the different sizes of cereal boxes, milk cartons, and yogurt containers, using words such as big, bigger, and biggest.
• Weigh different items in the produce department. Which weighs more, a potato or an apple? Do two potatoes weigh more than a bunch of grapes?
Literacy Activities for Younger Children
• To enhance vocabulary development, tell your young child what items you are looking for. Name the items as you put them in the cart or ask whether your child sees them on the shelf. Discuss what you will make with the items in your cart.
• Ask your child to look for the letters in his or her name.
• In the produce department, ask your child to look for different colors, for example, red apples, yellow bananas, green broccoli, and orange carrots.
Math Activities for Older Children
• Ask your child to count how many different kinds of the same items there are in various sections of the store. For example, in the bakery section, how many different types of breads or cookies does your child see? In the canned goods section, how many different kinds of soups are there?
• Discuss why certain items, such as boxes of cereal, are priced differently. Does the size of a box of cereal determine its cost? Does the type or brand of cereal determine its cost? Which type of cereal is a better bargain? Why?
• Weigh different items in the produce department to determine how many apples are in a pound or how many heads of lettuce equal a pound. Or challenge your child with simple addition problems. For example, if one pound of oranges costs $3.75, how much does two pounds of oranges cost?
Literacy Activities for Older Children
• Have your child keep a list in a small spiral notebook of all the new words he or she sees on signs around the store or on the items in your cart. When you get home, go over the list of new words together.
• In the produce department, have you child list the different varieties of items, such as pears and squash. What makes the varieties different? Color? Shape? Taste? Why might there be so many choices?
• Examine labels with your child. What kind of information is included on nutrition labels? Why are nutrition labels important?