The Supermarket Classroom Part 1

In the 1980s I was a mother with six children, the oldest of whom was eight years old. As you might imagine, pushing that herd of short folks in a grocery cart was NOT my favorite activity.  But one day I found a new book entitled Education in the Supermarket.  It opened my mind to the teaching opportunities that could be found in the grocery store, and I embarked on a new career of teaching children as I roamed the aisles housing cantaloupes or canned goods!

 grocery shopping My first week I taught the children about the different sections found in the store:  fruits and vegetables; meat; dairy products; paper goods, etc.  I felt this was the perfect introduction to our weekly excursion.   Immediately I saw my two oldest understand the concept of organization and sorting.  For the younger children we just practiced the words and the phonemes (sounds) that made up the words.  (The baby just smiled.)

  I knew that it was important to repeat and reinforce the concepts and language that we learned that first shopping day.  So throughout the week I would talk about the foods we were eating and let them help to decide in which section of the store they would be found.  I actually thought this would be easier than it was; but by weeks end, the kids were beginning to "get it.

  This overview of sections in the market proved to be a very helpful start to our new curriculum.  Eventually I was able to send kids to find a product by telling them the section where they would find a certain product. (But that skill came after many weeks.  So well talk about it in future blogs.)

Toy GrocerAs an outgrowth of our in-store studies I realized how I could make the experience more authentic for the children by creating a faux market at home with empty cans and containers.  Doll buggies became shopping carts, and the kids usually emptied all the shelves when it was their turn to play customer.  I loved to hear my oldest ask the others if there would be anything else, even though there was nothing left in the store.  It became a family joke.

It is amazing how into grocery shopping children get, when they are learning as they go.  If you have children that like to wiggle, wander, or whine while you are shopping, try this little experiment, and stay tuned for additional resources that can help you and your children find adventure with every shopping trip!

Until then, Happy Shopping!

Pat Green

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