A World of Wonder & Adventure: As Close as the Nearest Grocery Store
Discovery Place Kids Huntersville
In C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the four Pevensie children step through a magical wardrobe into an entirely new world to be experienced and to be remembered. It’s a very ordinary act that begins in a very ordinary place – and yet, it changes the way they each see the world forever. Do you remember experiences like that when you were a child?
There are everyday places in our lives today that can create that same experience of opening children’s eyes to seeing, feeling and creating a new world. Or perhaps - an understanding a wee bit more about their current world.
One such place? The grocery store.
We know that children rarely jump eagerly into the car anticipating a trip to the grocery store. The experience has a well-played reputation for being painstakingly long in kid time. Parents feel it, too.
This time spent with your child need not result in a frenzied marathon of grabbing items from shelves or displays while racing through the aisles. Instead, it can become an adventure, a competition and a special time of fun and learning – together.
And the less bored and the more engaged they are, the less likely they are to melt down, right?
Here are a couple of ideas to try today:
Make it fun - for everyone. (That includes you!) Part of the experience is selling it the right way – when you enter a local grocery store, talk about it as a special adventure with new things to see and do. The store becomes that new special world. Both parents and children alike start to notice things they never saw before.
Enlist them as your special partner in a healthy food scavenger hunt. Using your grocery list, challenge them to as your special partner in a search for healthy foods. Make a short checklist that asks them to look out for healthy fruits and veggies that are easy to spot like lettuce, carrots and apples. Once they find them, see if they can spot the name of the local farm or farmer where those items came from - that will shift their attention from colors to words, letters and names. Challenge them to find a fruit or vegetable from a farm in North Carolina.
Special note as you move through the store: There are thousands of numbers, letters and colors hidden in each aisle; finding each can challenge the child to observe and to seek while you complete the task of grocery shopping within the limits of time and energy – and, most importantly, sanity and patience.
Kick it up a notch with a clever version of Hide and Seek – for food. As the child becomes more familiar with the layout of the store, provide other challenges or competitions to make the trip more entertaining. A game of “what am I?” helps an older child to identify items.
For example: “I am either white, whole-grain or wheat and I go well with peanut butter – what am I, and where am I in the store?”
Make the trip to the store (and home) a memory game. In lieu of powering up the tablet in the car, spark a conversation that challenges each child to remember several items from the grocery list that you need to buy at the store together. Perhaps assign each child 2-3 easy-to-remember items from the list.
Once you enter the store, ask them to remember what their items were - and then confirm them on the grocery list. Then, when you’re ready to check-out confirm again - did we remember to buy each item? This is also a fun game to play on the way home, too - once you get home, confirm as you unpack and put away each item that each child was responsible for remembering.
First, challenge them to remember 2-3 items; then, as they improve their memory skills, kick it up and challenge them to remember 3-5 items - or more!
Want to try a test-run before you hit the real grocery store? The Town Market at Discovery Place Kids – supported by Publix Super Market Charities - allows children to experience a behind-the-scenes look at a grocery store. It includes a store manager’s desk, state-of-the-art cash registers featuring digital touch screens, healthy play food selections and a walk-in cooler.
The weekly - or perhaps semi-weekly - trip to the grocery store can be fun when you make it an adventure that sparks curiosity, fun, and excitement. When you spend time together learning and seeking new things, you’ll both understand and experience a world of wonder that’s closer than either of you ever imagined.