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under5s - shopping
Shopping - an educational experience ?

If you have ever been shopping with a group of under fives you know what everyone’s reaction is - does that person have to be here? Can’t they control those children? The looks, the verbal abuse, and more, from the generation of people who believe that children should never be seen or heard.

So should we all head off online and have our shopping delivered to the door or have we forgotten what a fantastic learning experience shopping can be ?

The Shopping List.

The shopping list is a great place to start. Sit down and talk to the children about the food and groceries we need to buy. Talk about what they need to make their lunch - is their enough juice for everyone - their favourite sort of biscuit - what ingredients do you need for making biscuits later in the week ?

As you write your list, encourage the children to draw pictures of the items or to write their own list of the things they think it is important to buy.

The older children can play a simple game of  “When I went shopping, in my basket I put…”. Each child takes it in turn to suggest an item to put in the basket, the next child then adds to the list. Why not use a real basket and add items that you find around the house, or only add items that begin with a ‘b’ sound. These are all great ways to introduce new words, to think about sounds and to encourage the development of the children's vocabulary.

The Shop

If you are going with a group of children then it is best to avoid doing the monthly shop A small shop of essential items is a great way to make the visit fun! Hook out all those shopping lists and ask the children what you need to buy. Encourage them to choose  red apples or green ones, select the firm cucumber as it will last longer, count five carrots so there is enough for everyone at tea time and recognise the blue labelled milk as the one that is full fat.

Wow, there in the first few aisles of the shop you have encouraged the children's counting and matching skills, talked about colours and colour recognition, and you haven’t even tested their observation skills.

We had fun on the day we headed around the supermarket on a hunt for television stars. The children didn’t think there would be any. However as we made our way passed the Pokemon yoghurts, the Thomas the Tank Engine and Barbie Spaghetti, the Tweenie sweets and to my surprise Noddy eggs (real Noddy eggs!) even I was surprised  at how much merchandise there is aimed at the younger consumer, and I think the children managed to spot 90% of it.

Unpacking is a horrible chore, but a necessity and as you unpack the children can put things away and think about where they belong - where does the toilet roll go, where do we put the milk and why?

Another great way to introduce a variety of language and to encourage the children to think about the world around them.

Time for fun…

Now the chores are done, why not set up a shop for the children. They can take it turns to be the shopkeeper and the customers - buying and selling their toys or empty food packets. A few coins help the children to become familiar with money, and don’t forget to provide some paper for coupons and shopping lists, to make their visit that little bit more authentic. 

There are some great books on shopping and shopping trips. This topic also gives the opportunity to introduce factual books, for example how milk gets to the supermarket, or how sweets are made. A family favourite of ours is a sticker book, which encourages you to think about the shopping as it is bought.

"Come Outside" a programme on the BBC often features episodes with Aunty Mabel and Pippin visiting a factory to see how the products are made. Maybe you can sit down and watch it together and talk about what you see.

Helen Renouf
Nursery Nurse (NNEB)

under5s - shopping
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