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Most weeks, I take the kids with me when I go to the grocery store. So they are well versed by now in practices such as bringing our own grocery bags, selecting and weighing our produce, having our items scanned, and paying for our purchase.
And my daughter generally loves, loves, LOVES anything to do with food. So after dinner the other evening, the kids decided to play “grocery store.”
I jumped right in with enthusiasm, noting that this was a fantastic opportunity to do some math practice through pretend play.
Note: For more hands-on activities that teach math skills, see my math activities for kids page .
The kids grabbed our toy cash register and pulled various food and kitchen items out of our play kitchen in order to “go grocery shopping.”
The great part about this activity was how easily it lent itself to working on basic math skills. . . and the kids did this automatically with no prompting from me!
When XGirl came over to make her first purchase of some tasty waffles, QBoy announced the price – “seven dollars” – and then began counting the abacus beads on the cash register to equal the purchase price.
Then, of course, he swiped XGirl’s credit card. (I realized that one of the downsides of me paying for everything with plastic is that my kids have very little sense of real money. Note to self: must remedy this!)
Then the kids reversed roles, and QBoy decided to do some shopping while XGirl worked the cash register. She really enjoyed scanning all the products, just like at the grocery store.
After announcing the cost of QBoy’s purchase, I worked with her to find the number on the cash register’s key pad.
After QBoy paid, he loaded up his purchase into a shopping bag to “take home.”
About then, we had to stop playing as it was time to get ready for bed. But it was so wonderful to see the kids incorporating basic math practice into their everyday pretend play. What a great reminder that some of the best learning comes through play and not through any sort of formal lesson!
More resources for teaching math
More math activities from Gift of Curiosity:
- Building a 3D rainbow measurement activity
- Advanced sorting with Venn diagrams
- Adding with chain links
- Matching and ordering by size
- Teaching combinations of 10
- Estimating an apple’s circumference
- Introduction to probability
- Math practice with numbered dice
- Put the numbers on the clothesline
- Road numbers