Like most things, going to the grocery store can be a hit or miss activity with my kids. There are those inevitable times when I'm rushed or need to grab only a few items when a trip to the grocery store ends in tears (usually mine!). The kids feed off my frantic energy and things spiral from there. If possible, I try to plan quick trips like these when the kids aren't with me.
When I have more time, however, it can be fun going to the grocery store - especially with my preschooler. For the most part, I enjoy shopping with my son, Owen. He asks all kinds of good questions, he loves to taste the samples, and he is pretty helpful. And when we have the luxury of time, we use one of these grocery store activities that are not only fun but also educational.
10 Preschool Activities to Do at the Grocery Store
iSpy Grocery Store. This is a simple way to engage your preschooler when you don't have time to plan ahead. And the variety of questions are limitless. I spy...something yellow, a dairy product, an item that starts with "p", something that costs $0.99, a person putting items in a bag, etc.
Pick a <Color, Shape, Number or Letter> Game. This game is a great way to practice common preschool skills such as color or shape recognition, numbers, or letters. Before going to the grocery story, choose a color/shape/number/letter of the day. Have your preschooler identify as many of them as possible. If you have prep time, create a tally sheet with the item repeated and have your child color or mark each time she finds it. Add them up at the end of the trip or when you get home.
Grocery List Photo Match. Before going to the grocery store, find photos of some of the items on your grocery list in a magazine, newspaper or online. When you get there, have your preschooler find the item and place it into your basket/cart. After the item is found, collect the photo from your child and save for a future trip.
Coupon Match. Like the Grocery List Photo Match above, cut out the coupons for grocery items you plan to buy. Have your child find the items that match the coupon.
Grocery Store Bingo. Just like the classic bingo game but using a card filled with grocery items. You can make your own ahead of time or use this cute grocery bag bingo card from PBS and Whole Foods.
Guess What's Next? Give your child clues so he can guess what's next on your grocery list. Start with broad hints and get more specific until she guesses. "The next item on my list can be brown, white or blue... It is most often eaten for breakfast... It has a hard outside and a soft inside... A chicken makes this item... Etc."
Food Group Tally. Prepare a tally sheet/s with all the food groups and bring a dot marker, stamp, or stickers to the store with you. As you fill your cart, ask your preschooler to make a mark in the proper food group for each item. When you get home, tally the marks and talk about the importance of a balanced approach to eating.
Race Against the Clock. Set-up a timer on your phone or use a stop watch. Ask your preschooler to track how long it takes to find the next item on your list. Or, start at set time (i.e. 1 minute) and see if you can get to the next item before the clock counts down.
Grocery Store Tales. Work together to tell a "grocery store" tale or story. Either you or your child can start the story, setting the scene. Each person builds on the story, taking turns back and forth. The only rule is that each new addition to the story has to include something the person sees at the grocery store.
Grocery Store Math. The grocery store is a good place to practice early math skills with your preschooler. Ask him to compare the length, height, or weight of different items in your cart. "Is this zucchini or this cucumber longer? Which is heavier - this bag of apples or this bag of broccoli?"
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