Loading up into the car to shop for food for the week is one of those tasks that no one is really excited about. With my kids, the free cookie at the bakery used to incentivize them to have a good attitude about it, but that ship has sailed. Knowing I had a big dinner party and, therefore, a big shopping trip ahead of me, I decided to get creative. I came up with a few ways to keep the kids excited about the grocery store while incorporating learning.
1. Scavenger hunt
The idea of a scavenger hunt is great because the prep work keeps the kids busy, too. Ask your kids to draw pictures of things they can find at the grocery store. Take the pictures with you and ask them to call them out as you go. If your kids aren’t crazy about drawing you can simply Google “free printable grocery scavenger hunt” and you’ll have loads from which to choose.
2. Basics of budgeting
For older kids, give them a small bit of money and tell them they can buy something with it. They’ll love exercising free will while practicing adding and subtracting and learning the value of money.
3. Help them count
For little kids, tell them how many you need of each produce item. Tell them you need their help to count the apples, so you don’t get too many. They’ll love feeling like your big helper and will work on stopping at the agreed-upon number, which is an important developmental milestone.
4. Teach nutrition information
On the way to the store, talk to them about the different kinds of food groups and the importance of knowing the difference. While in the store, pick up an item from each of the food groups to see who was paying attention to the nutrition information.
5. Bring home the ads
Usually, the grocery store will have its weekly ads at the front. Take one of these home. For preschool-aged kids, this is a good medium to practice cutting and letter recognition. Ask them to look for certain letters and cut them out. Kick it up a notch by having a letter-themed craft in mind for the next day.
As my kids get older, I will find ways to involve them in coupon cutting and discounts to drive home the everyday application of fractions and percentages. I also look forward to meal prepping with the kids because utilizing recipes is another way to practice fractions.
In sum, we can’t rely solely on school and homework to educate our kids. It’s fun to think of the world through their point of view and realize this is all new to them and can be exciting if presented in an interesting way.