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Make your shopping time count! There are math ideas to talk about in every aisle.

  1. Point out the signs hanging from the ceiling that show numbers for the different aisles—focus on 1, 2, 3 to start.
  2. Count items that you put in your cart. Focus on numbers up to 3. 1 carton of eggs, 2 boxes of cereal, 3 bananas in the bunch.
  3. Compare temperature. Use warm when you get to the rotisserie chicken, and cold on the freezer aisle.
  4. Count how many there are if you add one more item to your cart: We had 2 boxes of tissues, but I am going to buy 1 more. That makes 1, 2, 3!
  5. Describe items using color names: red and green apples, a yellow box of cereal, or green
  6. Compare using the word more: Look at our bananas and milk. We bought more
  7. Compare sizes of fruits and vegetables. Big orange; small Big broccoli; small green beans.
  8. Starting at 18-24 months, hold up an item like jelly. Ask your child to find a match on the shelf or in your cart.
  9. Notice the shape of cheese! Can you find cheese in the shape of a circle, square, and triangle? Name each one!
  10. In the paper goods aisle, point out square napkins and paper plates that are circles.
  11. Look at the salad bar together and notice how all the items are sorted carefully into their own bins. Name each item and describe its color or taste.
  12. Notice the shapes of objects in the supermarket: floor tiles may be squares, wheels on grocery carts look like circles, and more.
  13. Use position words: Next to, on top, behind, in, out. Our cereal is on the top. The yogurt is above the milk.
  14. Starting at 24-26 months, ask your child to show you where a specific item is. Then describe the location: That’s right, your cereal is on the middle shelf.
  15. In the frozen foods, can you find a square box or frozen pizza shaped like a circle? Point to each and name its shape.
  16. Point out how items are sorted by color – red peppers in one bin; orange in another. Red cans of soup on one shelf; blue on another.
  17. When you check out, use position words, like in and out: The cookies are in the cart. Let’s take them out and put them on the belt.
  18. When carrying groceries, talk about which bags are light and which are heavy.
  19. Explain the pattern of your day. Talk with your child about what will happen next: pay for the groceries, put them in a bag, and then…?
  20. At home, talk about where items go. The oatmeal goes on top of the counter. The meat goes into the freezer.

By Kathy Kinsner and Rebecca Parlakian