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How to Make the Grocery Store an Educational Experience
From toddlerhood to the teenage years, a trip to the grocery store could be so much more than the mundane act of restocking on essentials. Make it an educational event, with some fun of course, using these ideas:
Before you go…
Write a list. For your younger kids, they could copy what you’ve already written down. You can dictate the list to the older children. For your preteens and teens, have them help you with the meal plan then write up the list using the recipes you plan to use.
Estimate cost. For a fun challenge, have your kids write next to each item what they think it will cost. Once at the store, they can write down the actual price and see how close they were. For even more challenge, have them estimate the final cost beforehand, keeping in mind sales and coupons.
While you’re there…
Compare pricing. Simply point out to your younger kids the different prices labeled and talk about why you’re choosing which item. You can pull out the coupons for your older kids to decide which item is the best price. Also, point out the label that shows the price per unit/ounce for accurate comparisons.
Read/check off the list. Get some reading in for the early readers, and some writing practice in for the toddlers.
Follow directions. For those kids who just have to push the cart, work on lefts and rights while you direct them. Teach them about cart etiquette (don’t run into people; stay to the right; be careful with the eggs and bread; etc.), and how to use the aisle labels to find what you need.
Categorize food. Talk about fruit growing on trees and vegetables growing in the ground. Point out that milk is from cows and challenge them to find other diary products. Have them mark down what food goes in which food group. You can also discuss what part of the country or the world your food items come from and why.
Send off the big kids. Hand over half of your list to one or two of your older kids and send them off to collect the items. The sooner they learn to shop on their own, the sooner you don’t have to shop anymore!
Find the colors. Have a list of colors the kids need to find while you shop. They can tally up how many times they find each color, or how many of each color is in your cart. It’s a great opportunity to talk about the importance of colors in your diet!
Once you get home…
Make an assembly line. Someone unloads the car and hands it off to someone who takes it into the house and hands it off to someone who takes it into the kitchen. You get the idea. Get everyone involved in helping out.
Appoint an organizer. Have one child be in charge of directing who puts what where. Not only does everyone learn where everything goes, they’ll also be practicing cooperation. And one child will be honing his or her leadership skills.
Meal Prep. The little kids can rinse the fruit. The older kids can chop some veggies and brown some meat. Your teenager can make tonight’s dinner.
In a perfect world, your little family is like a well-oiled machine on grocery shopping day. But it’s not a perfect world so hopefully a couple of these ideas make the food shopping trip a little less stressful and a little more educationally fun!