A visit to the market—whether a supermarket, a local grocery store or a farmer’s market—fills the senses with sights, sounds and smells. The market is a place to build math, science and language skills. Looking carefully at and discussing the array of produce leads to interesting new words as well as discoveries about diversity and variation of plants. Comparing fresh herbs in the produce section with the same dried herbs in the spices aisle provides some experience with how plants change after they’ve been picked from the ground. Take these tips on your next shopping trip and try some market science with your first or second grader.
Weighing produce: Take a few minutes while shopping for produce to make some comparisons. Wonder aloud: “I wonder which is heavier, these five apples or these five pears?” Ask your child to help you determine this with the scales that are provided in the produce section. A scale is an important tool of science; modeling the use of one for your child can help her to understand how such a tool is used in the “real world.”
Comparison shopping: Your child can be given tasks that help him to apply his reading skills. As you stroll down the aisle, ask him to find something on your list, such as skim milk. Encourage him to read the nutritional label to differentiate among the different kinds of milk: “Please let me know how much fat is in the skim milk as compared to the whole milk.” Or, when looking at two different sizes of containers, ask “Which box of cereal is larger? How much larger?” This kind of shopping can model the use of data in making an informed decision about what to buy.
Food origins: Most of us purchase food from grocery stores rather than from its source. As a result, many young children have no idea where so much of our food (eggs, butter, bread, etc.) originates. Make a point of encouraging your reader-writer to do some research at the library or back at home about where different types of foods come from. In some cases you can even make these foods (bread, butter) yourself, or pay a visit to the original source, such as a farm, to see where eggs come from.