30 Ways Your Kids Can Learn While You Grocery Shop

I was homeschooled before it was cool. Anyone else like me out there? You told the clerk at Walmart that you were on a field trip when they asked you why you weren’t in school?

Well, now that I’m a homeschooling mom myself, I’m realizing that wasn’t so far-fetched. There is an awful lot that can be learned at the grocery store! I’ve come up with thirty ways – how many more can you add?

  1. Write the PLU numbers on the tags from the bulk bins. (writing)
  2. Weigh your produce. (math)
  3. Put a prescribed number of items in your cart. (math)
  4. Keep track of your items for Buy 10 type sales. (math)
  5. Figure out which brand is cheapest. (math)
  6. Push a second cart because you have too many kids in the first one. (driver’s ed)
  7. Tell you how much a certain item will be after a coupon. (math)
  8. Tell you how much a certain item will be after a doubled coupon. (math)
  9. Identify items in the produce section. (health)
  10. Look at where an item is grown in the produce section. (geoography)
  11. Figure out whether the small, medium, or large package is the best deal. (math)
  12. Cross things off your list. (reading)
  13. Re-organize your list, grouping like items together. (reading)
  14. Check for coupons in your coupon box. (reading)
  15. Look for the latest-dated milk (and check the milk price tracker to see who has the best price on milk!). (math)
  16. Keep a running total of your bill. (math)
  17. Figure out which items will have sales tax and which won’t. (math, critical thinking)
  18. Compute how many fuel points you will earn based on your final bill, and how much it will save you if you fill up with X gallons. (math)
  19. Ask an employee where to find something. (communication)
  20. Put the shopping cart away. (responsibility)
  21. Keep track of a smaller child. (responsibility)
  22. Check for broken eggs. (thoroughness)
  23. Enter your phone number for your store savings card. (life skills)
  24. Compare ingredient lists to find the best-quality products.  (reading, health, critical thinking)
  25. Run the self-checkout machine.  (technology)
  26. Choose a reward to be received upon good behaviour.  (negotiation, debate)
  27. Discuss why you’re waiting to purchase a certain item because it’s not on sale.  (critical thinking)
  28. Name the animal that different types of meat come from (ie, pork = pig, beef = cow). (science)
  29. Talk about why you might be buying one item organic but not another.  (health)
  30. Figure out the percentage discount of something that’s on sale. (math)

How many more can you add?



  1. I love this! I don’t have anything to add to the list, but wanted to mention what a kick people get when they hear my 2 yr old say “coupons” and the fact that she even knows the word!

    • Haha! My kids are the same way. My oldest wanted to make his friend a “coupon” as a gift. Bwahahahahaha! (I usually let him do his creative thing but I had to stop him this time. I don’t want people to think think we are COMPLETELY cuckoo about coupons. ;)

    • I had to laugh because when I take all the kids to the store (we have 4) I start by asking them what the rules are before we go in the store. I didn’t relize there was a woman behind me as my kids all said in unision “If it’s not on sale and mom doesn’t have a coupon don’t ask.” She laughed.

  2. I used the grocery store to teach kindness. Instead of pointing out a disability, we’d notice the cool racing stripes on a motorized cart, or that the lady had a lovely umbrella. We’d offer to help other customers reach for packages they couldn’t get. We’d put garbage in the trash instead of making extra work for anyone else. And if older adults talked to my kids, they learned how to respectfully respond and ask complimentary questions, too (such as do you have grandchildren? We have grandparents!)

    Schools can teach the basics, but there are lessons it can’t, like compassion, awareness and communication.

  3. This is a great list, Carrie! I’ve recently realized that when I have all the kids with me, it’s basically a necessity to treat grocery store trips as field trips. We’re inevitably going to be in the store for a (long) while, so why not make it fun and educational? We mostly talk about health/nutrition, reading labels and discussing why we do/don’t buy certain foods. I appreciate your ideas too! We’ll definitely start incorporating some of these!

  4. Michelle says:

    We play grocery store bingo!! Printable sheets on real simple has a few (1 for readers), printable.tipjunkie.com. Happy Shopping!!


    • I’m just preparing to start homeschooling my 5 year old this coming year, so thank you for all the wonderful ideas and keep them coming!

  5. I too was homeschooled back in the day (80’s). LOL! :)

    Not only are we teaching basic life skills, math etc.. I also use it as an opportunity to teach kindness, giving & selflessness. May times when we see a shopper with an certain item in thier cart , we check if we have a coupon for it . I ask the kids (8,10 & 13) if they’d like to offer the coupon to that person. You should see the faces on the adults! They usually seem a bit shocked. The kids are beeming with pride, knowing they helped someone out. :) We have yet to have someone turn us down!

  6. I love this list! My kids are all older now (10 to 17) so I rarely, if ever, take them with me to do groceries. When they were younger they each had a ‘list’ of items that they were responsible for, with pictures included for the ones that were too young to read. Plus they got allowance so they learned to save to get things they really wanted but knew I would not buy, ie; candy.

  7. We’ve done many of the things on this list. But we also work on the kindness and social responsibility stuff too…

    It was a real kick last Friday. Walking down the aisle, and I lost my teen son. Turned around, and he was helping a lady get down a couple items from the back of the top shelf.

    She thanked him, and he proceeded to grab the last two whatever they were and move them to the front of the top shelf… “for the next person.”

    So apparently, some of the lessons have stuck.

    • That’s awesome, Debra! Sounds like you are doing the right things as a parent. Love that he even went the extra mile for the next person. OK, now I’m inspired for the day. :)

  8. I am always thinking about how to make it a learning experience when I take the little ones with me, and I explain what we buy, when, and why. Today when I was shopping I had my 4 year old along and I explained that I needed to buy deodorant for my husband, and she asked me, “what is theodrant?” so she got a vocabulary lesson and a health lesson at the same time! Then she pointed out that the handle on the cart says “King Soopers” (spelling/reading skills and observation of details (science))! My kids also point out the numbers above the aisles, and practice counting (and counting backward when we forget something!) and the numbers can be used for number recognition at younger ages, and memory skills (do you remember what aisle the peanut butter is in?) for older children. Don’t forget the history lesson – last year we could get this cereal for less than a dollar a box with our coupons, but not this year!!

    Also, I love the comments on teaching about kindness and courtesy. Sometimes we all get caught up in our little worlds, and it’s important to not be rushed when you go to the store with your children, so you have plenty of time to teach them those important courtesy and communication skills.

  9. Great list! The “drivers ed” one gave me a good laugh. :) I also like the idea in the comments of playing Bingo while shopping. I’m going to try that one out!

  10. Before my guy started at a charter school, we used to talk about stuff like how cheese was made and how that was different from yogurt (science). Where do different types of cheese come from and why do they have those funny names (world cultures and languages). He’d also ask questions at the store and we’d research it online when we got home (like how do they make corn flakes or how do bees make honey).

  11. What a great idea! I will have to tuck it away as an idea for when my little guy is older. And I too was homeschooled before it was “cool” – we turned out OK, right?!? :)

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