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Food shopping is an inevitable part of everyone’s week. However, with children, it can be a stressful part. Do you find food shopping with your child to be a daunting task? You’re certainly not alone. But many times the reasons children act up in the supermarket (and anywhere else for that matter) is because they’re bored. So how can you relieve the boredom? Try teaching them some new words and concepts. 

1. Talk about the colors in the produce department

The supermarket, and the produce department in particular, is full of color.  Walking through the produce department is a great time to teach your child different colors while picking out fruits and vegetables.  For example, you could show your child two bags of grapes and explain that “these are green grapes, but those purple grapes.”  You could also send your child on a mini scavenger hunt to find fruits or vegetables of a particular color (e.g., find the red apples).

2. Practice counting as you place items in the cart or in a bag

Not only can your child practice counting as you place items in the cart or in a bag, but he can also work on his fine motor skills as he puts the items in the cart/bag himself.  This is one of my son’s favorite activities.

3. Discuss sizes in the cereal aisle

If your child eats cereal, the cereal aisle is a great place to talk about sizes because cereal boxes truly come in many sizes.  For example, you could hold up two boxes of Cheerios side by side and explain the different sizes.  Just like with the colors in the produce department, you can also ask your child to find boxes of different sizes (find the smallest cereal box).  If your child doesn’t eat cereal or cereal isn’t on the shopping list for the week, think of other items on your list that have different sizes you can discuss (e..g, these are big apples, but those are small apples).

4. Describe how things feel

In addition to the various colors in the supermarket, there are also a lot of textures and sensations.  For example, the meat section is cold (is it just me, or do you wish you had a sweater when you’re in that department?).  You can also have your child touch different packages or fruits/vegetables to describe how they feel (e.g., the pork chops are cold. The avocado is hard.)

This is just a small example of the ways you can encourage vocabulary growth and communication at the supermarket.  If you need some more inspiration for encouraging communication and developmental growth through food-based activities, check out this apple muffin freebie created by me, my husband, and our 4-year-old.