Learning to shop or shopping to learn …

A new school year is the perfect time for a fresh start. There is nothing like cracking open a new box of crayons. I can still picture choosing a color, brand new, with no dull to the point or writing in the first page of a blank notebook. Some schools offer a program where parents pay the cost of everything upfront and the school orders the supplies. If this is not the case, most parents are shuffling in and out of Target, Staples, and the like, with a supply list and a check out line a mile long. Children, on the other hand, simply reap the benefits of this task.

A great way to get your children ready for school is to involve them in this process. Whether they are in elementary school or day care, you can include them in this activity in a lot of easy ways. Have a discussion about what they think they need for school. Do they need a lunchbox? A swim suit? A bat and ball? This discussion is a simple way of sorting out appropriate needs for different places (i.e. we don’t need the same things for school, camp, going to a park).

Based on this discussion, make a list before going shopping using drawings, words or magazine cut outs. Even if school gave you a list, it is a fun way for them to learn how to organize information.  Bring a pencil to cross out the items you purchase along the way. If your child is older, you can use the original list given to you and practice reading it beforehand.

This adventure can take the form of a scavenger hunt also. Where can we find the notebooks? The glue sticks? The back packs? If they are having trouble or getting off track, ask them what helps us find the aisles we need? Introduce them to the signs on the ceiling or on the outside of the aisles. Encourage them to help you read those aisle signs!

No matter what the age or grade level of your children, math plays a huge role in the school shopping adventure. If they are the appropriate age, you can compare the cost of two boxes of crayons. Which costs less? Which costs more? If you buy a bulk pack of 5 notebooks for $5.00, how much does each notebook cost individually?

Younger children can easily identify numbers on crayon boxes. How many crayons in the box? How many glue sticks come in a pack? Even simpler is asking them to identify the numbers in the price of an item. They may not know that something costs $1.98 but they might be able to identify the three numbers 1, 9 and 8.

Making lists, organizing information and incorporating math can be used with food shopping in a supermarket or any other form of shopping. The difference is that school is relevant to your children and anything parents do to make lessons relevant to their children’s lives will help them understand the concept better and also make it more interesting! Happy shopping!







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  1. * Sue P says:

    Thanks for these helpful tips Amanda, I especially like your idea of doing a scavenger hunt for items. This is something that gives me a headache but the kids will love – great ideas!

    | Reply Posted 6 years, 9 months ago

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