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How I Use the Grocery Store to Teach My Children Math and Language Arts

Because I am obsessed with learning, I try to look for everyday opportunities to teach my children simple things like math.  One of the most convenient places to do this is on a trip to the grocery store.

When we enter the store I first grab an advertisement.  I tell my girls to look through the paper to see what items they would like to purchase.  Sometimes I remember to bring a marker and have them circle things they like.  Then we go on a scavenger hunt to find the items, which are usually in the produce section because they love fresh fruit.

The produce section is my favorite part of the grocery store because of the scales.  I’ll admit, sometimes we hog the scale and spend a while there.  I like to play guess the weight, and have my girls estimate how much something weighs.  I let them hold, for example one cantaloupe, and then ask them to estimate the weight, then we actually put it on the scale and compare their estimate with the actual weight. Next I give them something lighter like an apple, and we compare.  Usually fruits are sold per pound, so we will measure out how many pounds we can purchase for a given price.
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If I see a variety of different types I like to point them out.  For example, there are many types of apples.  So I ask my daughters to compare and contrast each type of apple, what does it look like, how are the colors different, what are the sizes that make each apple unique. This teaches them to use descriptive language.

When things are sold in packs, I teach them to pay close attention to details.  For example, if they want to buy cheese sticks, we look at the individually wrapped sticks and compare them to the cheese sticks that are in a bulk pack.  I multiply the price of the individual sticks  and explain how buying in bulk saves money.  They do not have to understand how to multiply large numbers, but they can see a real world application for using multiplication.  This makes learning math more interesting and desirable to learn.
Our family is big on reading nutrition labels, at home and when shopping.  So I always take time to look at a label and read it.  I tell my girls to look for sugar content, and how much fiber or protein a particular food has.  They enjoy watching Fizzy’s Lunch Lab and know that protein is good and although sugar is tasty, we should not have so much.

Another thing that I like teaching my children, and this isn’t something that is on the common core standards, but I feel it is very important: how to pick food.  When I am shopping for something like tomatoes, to teach them how to feel for a certain texture.  I prefer my tomatoes to be firm and not so squishy.  I allow my children to help me find the best tomatoes for mommy’s salads.  I want them to connect with food and not just purchase things based on a character being on the box.

How do you use the grocery store to teach lessons?

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