Math (and more) – at the grocery store
Ok, so we all know how much fun it is to have a child in tow while doing groceries. My aim here is not to make it saner (because then I’d be selling you a lie), rather I’d like to offer some ideas to make it an educational event for the kidlets.
- For the tiny tots I suggest you circle a flyer with a few things that you actually need to get from the store and have them cut them out, if they’re somewhat handy with scissors. Next they paste it on a T-chart (2-column sheet of paper) and they glue the images onto the left side. Grab a clipboard and a marker and you’re on your way…to the store! So, here the kidlets try to find the actual products and check them off as they go. Of course you can assign them to their “desk” (sitting inside the cart). If more time needs to be whittled away, they can copy down the actual prices or copy the name of the item onto their clipboards.
- My friend Naomi (teacher/ consultant extra-ordinaire) was taught by her mom at an early age that budgeting mattered. She was given a specific amount of money each month, and she had to plan a budget for everything from deodorant to clothes. Naomi is a VERY financially-savvy person. I am not. I also never learned to budget as a youngster so please learn from my mistakes. If the thought of figuring out the pre-budget, – (how much said child will actually need), – is mind-numbing to you, then start with the small stuff, such as only hygiene products or school supplies. Trust me, they’ll want to spend less once they see how quickly money flies because there’s an added benefit to saving on items. You’ll thank me in 15 years.
- Children that are roughly 8 years of age and up can help you do price checks. A website like www.mrsjanuary.com might help kids to cross-reference coupons, flyer inserts and other offers, though this is not for the weak at heart it’s a good way for them to learn about financial responsibility.
Home Economics (is it even called that anymore?)
- Older kids can plan one family meal (per week, per month, or occasionally), and they have to plan from start to finish their yummy product. Give them some limits on how much they can spend (it’s your money after all). They’ll need to sleuth around for a meal that fits the budget and create it. That means you get a night off of cooking! Speaking of food, here are some resources to help them be aware of balanced meals…
Food Groups: The pyramid is no longer a pyramid
- …and hasn’t been for a long time. It’s a rainbow now. My daughter used to quote “5, 4, 2, 1″. Those were her numbers according to Canada’s Food Guide so that she always knew how much of what she needed to eat. Children are never too little to start. Here’s a great online activity that all ages can do to determine their “numbers” by “building” their own food guide .
- Help children be aware of the various nutritional needs and food values so they can plan a meal that has lots of color (reds, oranges, yellows, greens, browns) and that respects a food fraction plate - for lack of a better term: 1/2 of the plate should consist of veggies, 1/4 grains or alternatives, and the other 1/4 meats or alternatives. Here are some Canadian resources to get you started: The “Rainbow”-shaped Food Guide is downloadable below and has translations into many languages. There are other key resources and helpful ideas. You can also download PDFs and docs of a food servings tracker according to the child’s age.
Happy shopping! Till next time,