Shopping cart schooling


Shopping cart schooling


If you are anything like me, trips to the grocery store occur almost daily. Or perhaps, you are a parent who has mastered meal planning. Either way trips to the grocery store with your child can be a very positive experience.

Inspired by an article by Zero To Three magazine, here are some suggestions to turn your grocery shopping into a fun, educational learning experience for parents and young children.

Counting and Number Recognition: Point out the signs hanging from the ceiling that show numbers for the different aisles-focus on 1, 2, 3 to start. Count items that you put in your cart. Focus on numbers up to 3. “1 gallon of milk, 2 loaves of bread, 3 oranges in the bag.”

Count how many there are if you add one more item to your cart: “We had two boxes of tissues, but I am going to buy one more. That makes 1, 2, 3!”

Comparison: Use the words more or less: “Let’s buy more apples.” Compare using more and less: “Look at our bag of onions and our bag of peppers. We bought more onions than we did peppers, but the peppers cost less money.”

Compare temperature pointing out that it is warm when you arrive at the hot deli case, and cold in the milk aisle. Use this time to also compare sizes of fruits and vegetables. Big grapefruit, small blueberries. Big broccoli, small green beans. Ask your child which one is larger or smaller? When carrying groceries, talk about which bags are light and which are heavy.

Color exploration: describe items using color names: Red and green apples, a yellow box of cereal or brown bread. Add in a comparison of colors for different products or fruits and vegetables. From peppers to berries and apples talk about the different colors and see if your child can point them out. Look at the salad bar together and notice how all the items are sorted carefully into their bins. Name each item and describe its color or taste.

Shapes: Notice the shape of cheese. Can you find cheese in the shape of a circle, square and triangle? Have your child name each one. Notice the shapes of objects in the supermarket: floor tiles may be squares, wheels on grocery cart look like circles and more. In the paper goods aisle, point out square napkins and paper plates that are circles. In the frozen foods, can you find a square box or a frozen pizza shaped like a circle? Point to and each and name its shape.

Location: Use position words as you shop: Next to, on top, behind, in, out. “Our canned soup is on the top shelf. The bread is next to the jelly.” When you check out, use the position words in and out: “The crackers are in the cart. Let’s take them out and put them on the belt.” When you put items away at home, talk about where each one goes: “The milk in the refrigerator door. The fresh vegetables go in the vegetable drawer.”

Letter Recognition and Sounds: As you are placing items in your cart, have your child guess as to what letter an item begins with. “This is a cucumber. It starts with the “ca” sound – what letter produces the “ca” sound?” Also, you can ask your child to pick out a product label that begins with a certain letter.

As parents, you are your child’s first and primary teacher. Remember that your child is always learning, in the most ordinary of places and at all times of the day. Enjoy your shopping experience.

Carrie Kube is a Director for the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area Board. All thoughts and opinions expressed are that of the author and not the Board and/or its community partners.