The grocery store is one of the last places I will willingly take my preschoolers. Yet, I find myself there with both in tow at least once a week. With schools out for summer it seems a though I am not the only one. The aisles of H-E-B have become more like the halls of a school than an grocery story.
I know it may sound crazy, I promise you I am not insane, but since I started playing these games with the kids it has made grocery shopping more bearable. My role of conflict resolution specialist has now been replaced by teacher.
- The letter game – pick a letter and find produce or products around the store that begin with that letter. “P” is a great one – peppers, potatoes, pepperoni, peanuts, pizza etc.
- Size vocabulary – compare bunches of bananas or the size of different varieties of peppers, can sizes, bags of cheese, etc. Just about anything that’s near you can start to teach your kids to understand words like small, medium, large, big, bigger, biggest, small, smaller, smallest etc.
- Shape game – challenge the kids to find a circle, square, or rectangle around the store. You can also expand this into teaching 3D shapes including spheres, rectangular prisms, and cones.
- Color game – have the kids find items that are a specific color
- Numbers – play find a number. For example, read the numbers on the aisles. For older children, weigh produce and have them read the scale.
- Fine motor skills – if you trust your child not to attempt to eat a plastic bag, you can have them open the produce bags for you. It helps to build dexterity.
- Directional vocabulary – ask your kids to find an item in the aisle. When they do, ask if its on their left or their right. Look and find something above it, and ask if they can find the jelly. Ask if it’s above or below the honey, left or right of the maple syrup, etc.
- Toddler shopping list – give your kids a shopping list with five or six items on it. Help them read and memorize their list. Then have them find all the items.
- Try something new – every time I take the kids to the grocery store I pick something we have not tried before, usually a fresh fruit or vegetable that’s on sale. The kids help me pick it out and then we talk about the item’s color, texture, name, letters in its name, description, and how we think it will taste. We continue this when we get home, looking for recipes that contain the new product, talking about how we could prepare it, and then, finally, we try it. Sometimes it’s successful and the kids love a new fruit or vegetable. Sometimes, despite all efforts, it may be unsuccessful. But that’s part of the fun. We just never know!
- I-spy checkout – checkout lines can be miserable. A little game of I-spy can be an easy way to keep your child entertained. In the past I have used colors, letters, shapes, and numbers. Anything to keep them entertained.
As always there are some great online resources that can help make the grocery store a worthwhile learning experience for your kids. These are a few of my favorites: