Away from Home

Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities III

Last article “Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities II” I shared about the educational opportunities I create as I prepare for grocery shopping. This article is about how I use our time for educational opportunities on the way to and from the grocery store.

The grocery store I frequent most is only about ten minutes from our house. Yes, I am thankful that I don’t have to travel far to get groceries. Even though our drive is very short, I still like to make use of the time with my children as I usually go grocery shopping with them on a school morning. I have incorporated this time into my school schedule and actually planned to use it accordingly. Currently there are two activities that I have scheduled for this time in our van.

Memory Work - I have my children take turns reciting the Books of the Bible (One of our memory goals for this year). Often one child recites the Old Testament and another child recites the New Testament. Then I have them recite things that they are working on, such as my preschooler will count to 20 or my 1st grader will name the days of the week or my 3rd grader will recite The Lord’s Prayer. At other times I will have them recite Bible verses.

The memory work I choose is one of the goals that I set for them at the beginning of the year. In the future I plan to have them learn things like the 50 states or all of the US presidents. A helpful tip for driving is that I have them work on things that I already have memorized. Since I don’t have all of the US presidents memorized in chronological order, I will have to either personally work on that for the future, or come up with some other method by that time.

Reading - Sometimes my children each read from their own reader/book and other times I have one of my children read aloud.

In the past I have also done other activities with my children in the van.

Music - I have borrowed CDs from our library with different types of music in order to teach and expose my children to different styles of music. I’ve also used our time to sing and teach them new songs.

Audio Books - I have borrowed audio books from our library on different topics. Obviously we can’t finish an entire book in one ten minute trip, but we can listen to part of it during each of multiple trips until we do finish the entire book.

There are websites and books out there dedicated to travel entertainment. I have only listed a few of the ideas that I have personally used on our short weekly drive to the grocery store. I’m sure many of you have many more ideas than I do. Please leave a comment and share one or two with the rest of us.

I hope you have enjoyed my series on Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities.

Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities II

Last article “Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities”, I wrote about the educational opportunities I encounter while grocery shopping with my children. This article is about the educational opportunities I create as I prepare for grocery shopping.

Grocery Store Preparation

Cut Coupons - I have my children cut coupons for me. When my preschoolers are first learning to cut with scissors, I have them practice with coupons that I don’t want. The straight dotted lines are a good place for them to start learning scissors skills. Once my children are able to cut reliably, then I have them cut out coupons that I intend to use. They get to practice their scissors skills, and participate in saving our family money. This activity is also great because it saves me time!

Make a List - Depending on the age and ability of the child, making a grocery shopping list can range from me writing a list for them to read off at the store, to them making a list of the ingredients we will need for the next week’s meal plan.

Meal Plan - I recently gave my seven year old son the assignment of making a meal plan for our family for the whole week. He had to design a plan that was balanced and fit into our budget. Then he had to make a list of the ingredients we would need. He helped me find the items at the store and made choices when there were some about which option to pick. He helped me prepare the meals for the entire week including planning ahead to take items out of the freezer as needed so they had time to thaw. This also works at younger ages on a smaller scale. For instance planning and helping with a single day or single meal instead of an entire week.

What educational opportunities have you encountered while preparing for grocery shopping? I’m sure there are many more in this area and I love to hear your suggestions.

Next article I will write about how I use our time for educational opportunities on the way to and from the grocery store.

Grocery Shopping for Learning Opportunities

The grocery store seems to be an endless opportunity for learning. It’s amazing that so many of my children’s learning opportunities are tied into the grocery store in some way. I realized that I spend almost an hour there every week with my children. It’s hard to be with my children for an hour and not teach them something. It’s just not natural for me. My oldest child is only seven years old, so I’m sure that the teaching opportunities have barely even begun to be tapped at the grocery store.

Here are some of the lessons we have done while grocery shopping and a few extra that I plan to do in the future. Most of them only take an extra minute or two while shopping. They are mostly  preschool or early elementary related. It seems that whatever stage my children are at, I can tie it into something while at the grocery store. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Counting

I can have him count the items as I put them into the cart. He can count how many eggs are in a dozen. He can count how many yogurt cups we buy today. He can count how many bananas are in the bunch. He can count how many different types of grapes the store sells. He can count how many people he sees in the store.

Colors

I can have him look for a certain color of food. The produce department is my favorite area for this game.

Shapes

I can have him look for items that are a particular shape such as a cube or cylinder.

Letters

I can have him look for a particular letter on signs or labels. He can find items that beginning with a particular letter (again, the produce department is great for this). To take this a step further, during my Letter a Week kindergarten curriculum, I even let the child pick out an item that started with the letter of the week. I would then incorporate it into our meal plan for that week. My boys really loved this! I have to admit, I did too.

Reading

I can have him read signs, labels, or anything in the store. Sometimes I make a grocery list in advance for my son and have him check off the items as we put them into the cart or read the items to me that are left on the list. I’ll ask one of my sons to get me a specific item such as sharp cheddar cheese. He can’t just look at the picture then. He has to read to figure out which cheese is the sharp cheddar.

Writing

I can have him write the items that I buy on a list.

Money

I can have him write the cost of items I buy on a list. He can calculate the total bill. He can round each item to the nearest dollar. He can then estimate the total bill (this is my method of estimating my total bill each trip to make sure that I don’t go over budget). This is a great still for him to learn! I can pay with cash and have him figure out how much of each denomination is needed to pay the total or how much change I will get back.

Other Math

I can talk about and show him different units of measure such as 1 dozen eggs, 2 pounds of bananas, 1 gallon of water, 1 quart of milk, or 2 liters of pop.

He can compare and contrast items by type or size.

We can discuss metric versus English measurements such as liters versus quarts. He can find items that are sold by English or metric measurements.

He can find items that are sold by volume or weight or quantity.

He can estimate the weight of bananas or other produce that we buy.

Social Studies

Where we live, we often see people from different ethnicities and speaking different languages. I like to teach my children a little about where they come from, or what language they are speaking. If I know, I’ll maybe even teach them a few words from that language (I can at least say “Hello” in a few different languages).

History

This one pops up occasionally and unexpectedly for me. Sometimes I’ll see something that was common in the past, but not common now, such as glass bottles of pop. I’ll take that opportunity to discuss with my kids how things are different now than they used to be when I or our ancestors were children. I can discuss with them how glass bottles of pop were common for Grandma and Grandpa and how they used a bottle opener to open them.

Sometimes my kids will ask questions like why an item comes in a certain type of container such as baking soda in a can. I can discuss the history of how that came to be (though I often have to look things like this up).

I can teach him the history of certain foods. We once read a book about bananas. We learned how they came to the US and how many different varieties of bananas there are. It was fascinating! Did you know there are bananas that taste like ice cream?

Geography

I can have him look on food labels to see where different foods come from. He can look up that county on a map when he gets home or even learn about that country from an encyclopedia. He can look for foods from a particular country that he has learned about at home or heard about in the news lately.

Science

I can point out different produce that the store sells. If I don’t know what something is, I can learn by asking a produce department employee. We can maybe even try the new food.

I can discuss how different plants grow such as carrots are roots, apples are fruit of a tree, or celery is the stalk of the plant.

I can discuss what is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes. When my children are older, I can even have them research these things on their own and write reports on them.

What learning opportunities have you discovered at the grocery store?

Next time I will write about the educational opportunities I create as I prepare for grocery shopping.

Does being a “stay-at-home mom” mean that I have to stay at home?

In addition to being a homeschool mom, I am a stay-at-home mom and I love it. I feel very blessed that my husband and I have agreed to sacrifice so that I can stay at home and raise our children. 

Life gets busy sometimes and it’s easy for me to get so busy that some weeks I find myself going somewhere every day and not actually staying at home even though I’m a stay-at-home mom. Of course it’s okay to go places and do things. I like going and doing.  Many of the things I go and do are necessary like grocery shopping, or doctor appointments. Other times it’s educational, volunteering, or just plain fun. It’s all good stuff. 

However, when I do all these wonderful things outside of my home, it’s just that, outside of my home. It doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to stay at home and be a wife,mother and teacher which, after God, are my next priorities. The more I am away from home, the more I get stressed since obviously things like the laundry and the kids’ schoolwork aren’t getting done to my usual standard. The more I get stressed and crabby, the harder it is to be a good Christian, wife, and mother.

It is tough for me to balance how much to go and how much to stay. Lately I have been challenged to evaluate my goals/priorities as a Christian, wife, and mother and to really think about how much I want to stay at home as a stay-at-home mom and then try to find ways to meet those goals. Sometimes I have to just say “no” or “not now”. 

I have to remind myself often that “self” comes last. I struggle when I hear the common phrase “You have to take care of yourself first, so you can be a better wife/mother/(fill in the blank)”. This logic sounds appealing to me because it offers me an excuse to be selfish. Things like eating three meals a day, sleeping eight hours a night, and getting a shower qualify for taking care of myself. Going out for a day of shopping with my friends doesn’t usually qualify as taking care of myself. It qualifies for having fun for myself which usually falls into the selfish category. God tells us to be servants to others, to think of them first, not to be selfish and think of ourselves first. If God, husband, and children are cared for first, then I think it’s okay sometimes to do something for myself. It’s important that I get my priorities straight.

I know that the more I stay at home, the more my children’s quality of education improves, the less stressed I am, and the happier my husband, children, and I am. I think it’s worth the trade off of a little more fun outside the home now and than. 

Syndicate content