Unschooling is like improv. When we don’t have curriculum or an academic agenda we have to find learning everywhere we go. And ordinary activities – like grocery shopping – can be a wealth of learning!
Fortunately, my Sweetpea is 8 and the ultimate helper. Each week, I’m amazed at how many big and little learning opportunities there are just in planning our weekly meals & doing the shopping. I also find that the more I lean into groceries being a fun way to spend time together and help her learn, the better the experience is. If I’m in charge of the list, am rushing through the aisle, and not letting her help… well… nobody has fun and we’re more likely to argue over Fruity Pebbles. 😉
Science & Nutrition
- Help plan dinner meals for the week, including a protein, vegetable(s) and grain/starch for each meal.
- Read food labels and identify amount of protein and sugar. Compare labels of two similar products (like 2 cereals) to find the one with more protein and less sugar.
- Identify dozens of fruits and vegetables, recognizes them in their off-the-plant form.
- Identify produce ripeness, and understand why we would or wouldn’t buy them.
- Return plastic bags to be recycled and understand environmental impact of using reusable bags (for produce and carrying groceries).
- Understand the environmental benefits of buying meat, eggs and seafood that are sustainably, organically and locally raised.
- Understand health and cost benefits of making meals at home, with packaged meals or eating out as a treat.
Math in Real Life
- Compare prices of similar items
- Compare prices at different stores (“Why don’t we shop at Trader Joe’s every week, Katie?”)
- Calculate the cost of making a meal at home vs. drive thru or a restaurant
- Calculate the cost of meals with a goal of dinner meals under $10 each for our family of 3
- Learn units of measure and vocabulary for items (pounds, quantity, ounces)
- Round prices to the nearest dollar
- Use a calculator
- Weigh produce and read the scale, multiply cost per weight (with help & calculator)
- Add cost of a few items for a total
- Find dates of dairy products and estimating expiration
- Multiply in meal planning (2 drumsticks per person x # of people = total drumsticks)
- Measure weights and volumes
Reading & Writing
- Read items on grocery list
- Scan a list to find items
- Read store signs for produce names, aisle directory
- Read item packaging
- Write item names
- Read screen options at self-checkout
- Noticing what countries different produce comes from
- Noticing produce grown locally
- Noticing food, spices and treats from other countries
- Exploring international and Asian grocery stores, comparing produce and popular items to American grocery stores
Social and Emotional
- Pride in helping with an important job (and pushing the buggy!)
- Confidence in knowing the job and how to do it well
- Social norms and manners when asking questions and interacting with store staff
- Helping and taking direction, with a grown-up still in charge (helper not boss)
- Connection and time spent together