I’ve had my share of grocery store nightmares of wrangling four boys under the age of five through the aisles while trying to snag the best prices. The best (worst?) memories are of the years when we were a one-car family, so I took the double stroller several blocks away to get groceries with my gang. The milk had to fit underneath, while the bag of bread and veggies straddled precariously on top of the stroller canopy. If only there was such a thing as grocery delivery or pick-up in those days! I would have been an early adopter for sure.
While most of my crew are teenagers now, I still don’t like to go shopping if I don’t have to. But then I consider the wealth of learning opportunities that await us each week if we do go.
So whether you dread the weekly grocery chore, or love it – this post is for you. Consider all the ways your kids – from preschool to high school – can learn valuable skills during this errand. And be sure to grab the Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt FREEBIE at the end of this post.
How can you use the grocery store to extend your kids’ learning opportunities? Consider these ideas.
Your youngest kids can practice these skills while riding in the cart through the aisles:
- color recognition with a game of I-Spy
- world-awareness as you discuss which countries grow the produce
- healthy eating habits as you walk through the produce aisle versus the ice cream section
- how money works (one of my kids used to be confused that we borrowed from the library but couldn’t borrow from the grocery store!)
- discuss the main food groups
- learn self-control as they shop with mom :)
- identify different common foods with the Scavenger Hunt printable at the end of this post
As your kids get older, the grocery store provides deeper ways to practice skills in real life.
- Tell your kids what the grocery budget is, and ask them to help you keep track while you shop.
- Compare price per ounce or price per pound and have them find products with the best value.
- Discuss imports, especially in the produce section. Which countries are represented in your grocery store? Use the Scavenger Hunt Packet to keep track of data.
- Look at the ethnic food aisles and discuss the foods you see there.
- Talk about healthy eating habits.
- Calculate how much produce will cost if you buy 1-pound, or 2-pounds, or more.
It’s helpful for teenagers – who eat a lot! – to be aware of the family budget. Have them consider the following:
- How much do you spend each month? What is the per-person grocery spending in your home.
- What percentage of the monthly family budget does groceries take?
- Have them observe the effect of imports and tariffs in the produce section. Discuss current policies.
- Discuss advertising and marketing strategies – which items are on the end caps? Why?
- Why is the milk never located right near the front door? What is the strategy behind that?
- Can your teenager compare similar products to find the best value?
- Is name brand always better?
- Does buying in bulk save you money?
- Can you teenager do the shopping for you one week and stick within the budget while comparison shopping for the best deals?
Before you go shopping again, grab this 9-page Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt Packet at 4onemore.com. There’s something for your preschoolers up to high schoolers in this free download.
Abby is a former public school teacher, now homeschooling her five children. She’s in the trenches just like you and knows it can be challenging to be home with your kids all day while you struggle to keep up with the housework and educate your kids (and maybe even work on the side!). She blogs over at www.4onemore.com and hosts the Homeschool with Moxie podcast.
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