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Learning Mathematics - Activities for the Grocery Store: Kindergarten through Grade 2 (page 3)

— U.S. Department of Education
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

Kindergarten-Grade 1: Get into Shapes

Before shopping trips, review different shapes with children by pointing them out in items around the house. Encourage them to use the correct name for each shape: square, rectangle, triangle, circle, cube, cylinder and so forth.

Being able to recognize how different shapes are used in common settings helps children to understand geometric principles-such as shape and quantity-and the relationships among them.

What to Do

  • At the store, ask your child questions to focus her attention on the shapes that you see. Ask her to find, for example, items that have circles or triangles on them or boxes that are in the form of a cube or a rectangular solid.
  • As you shop, point out shapes of products—rolls of paper towels, unusually shaped bottles, cookie boxes shaped like houses. Talk with your child about the shapes. Ask her why she thinks products, such as paper towels and packages of napkins, come in different shapes. Have her notice which shapes stack easily. Try to find a stack of products that looks like a pyramid.
  • Ask your child for reasons the shapes of products and packages are important to store owners. (Some shapes stack more easily than others and can save space.)

Grades 1-2: Clip and Save

Help children feel that they're a part of family budgeting by encouraging them to look in newspapers and flyers for coupons for items that the family uses. Have them look for coupons for items that they want to buy with allowance or birthday money.

Coupons can be used to help children learn the value of money as well as to let them show off their addition and subtraction skills.

What You Need

  • Pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters
  • Grocery store coupons
  • Pencil and paper

What to Do

  • Show your child a grocery store coupon for a product that he likes to eat and have him count out coins to show how much money the coupon saves on the product. For example, if the coupon is for 30 cents off a jar of peanut butter, give your child nickels and dimes and tell him to count out three dimes or six nickels. Give your child all the coins and challenge him to figure out how many different coin combinations he can make to total 30 cents.
  • Ask your child how much money you can save with two or three 20-cent coupons. Show him the other coupons and ask him how much money could be saved with each one. Have him write the amounts and then add them to show how much could be saved if all the coupons were used.

Grades 1-5: Put It Away

Children can often make up very creative rules for classifying things. Don't be surprised if you have trouble guessing your child's rule!

Putting away groceries helps children develop classifying and mathematical reasoning skills and the ability to analyze data.

What You Need

  • Groceries

What to Do

  • Make a game out of putting away groceries. As you empty the bags, group the items according to some common feature. You might, for example, put together all the items that go in the refrigerator or all the items in cans.
  • Tell your child that you're going to play "Guess My Rule." Explain that in this game, you sort the items and she has to guess what rule you used for grouping the items.
  • After your child catches on to the game, reverse roles and ask her to use another "rule" to group these same items. She might, for example, group the refrigerator items into those that are in glass bottles or jars and those in other kinds of packaging. She might group the cans into those with vegetables, those with fruit and those with soup. When she's regrouped the items, guess what rule she used.
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