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Grocery shopping and kids: Five concepts children learn at the store

Are you a Sunday grocery shopper?  For years, our family routine has been to make a weekly menu/list then grocery shop on Sunday afternoons (when everyone and their brother are at the store too).  I haven't been able to get out of this habit and go on a different day not matter how hard I try.

I also cannot get on the online/app grocery order train (I know-what!?!).  I've done it twice and always end up with produce that I don't like!  I enjoy picking out my produce and other items.  One advantage to online ordering is not having to trek it to the store with your one, two or three+ kiddos.  There are advantages to taking your child to the grocery store too!  (I promise you it doesn't have to be a screaming in the cart because he wants those cookies trip).  What do kids learn about on a trip to the store?  (This post focuses on a typical grocery store but any of these strategies could work in any type of store).

1.  Social language:  Going to the store involves having to speak to others (usually).  You may have to ask for an item, order lunch meat, speak to a cashier or speak to another person in an aisle to get by them.  Your child is watching and hearing you use these various types of social language, eye contact and body language.  Children pick up on these concepts early.  

2.  Colors, shapes, types of food:  Here's the big one: the grocery store involves so many opportunities for great language and vocabulary exposure.  You can talk with your child about the colors of fruits, vegetables and food boxes.  With an older toddler, a parent can say things such as "Show me the big red box of cereal" or "What fruit do we need that is yellow and monkeys like it?".  Children will enjoy looking at the various shapes of fresh food and meats.  Parents can play a guessing game with their child by pointing out two types of food and asking which one is a meat, cereal, fruit, etc.  You can also lead a great game of "I Spy."  "I spy something that is a fruit, grows on a vine and we eat it in the summer:  Watermelon!"

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3.  The use of money/the concept of paying:  The grocery store is a great way to introduce the concept of paying/money.  Children have to learn that certain things cost money.  It is important to have children see you pay and discuss the amount (a little bit or a lot of money).  It is also great to have children see cash but a lot of people don't use cash any more :)  

4.  Introduction to simple numbers in functional setting:  Counting food items is a great way to introduce numbers to small children.  Parents can count the number of fresh vegetables or fruit items they are picking up/bagging.  Parents can also model counting through aisle numbers (i.e. We are going down aisle three to find some cereal, etc). 

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5.   Spatial concept practice:  If your child is old enough to walk or move around the card (or you use one of those driving carts!), handing your child food items and using phrases such as 'put in' and 'drop in' are great for teaching in and out.  You can also point out food items that are beside each other (in the fruit/veggie bins), things that are high on the top of the self or low on the bottom of the shelf.

We hope this provides you with some good tips and strategies for your next grocery store trip.  Happy shopping!