Category: Social Studies

Family Field Trip: Grocery

Want to upgrade your weekly shopping trip from family struggle time to — at least on a good day — an educational experience? We have four easy-to-use ways to keep your children (fingers crossed!) calm, curious and connected on your next trip to the grocery store.

Shopping list:
Before you head to the store, work together to create a shopping list. For toddlers, ask questions about what fruit, vegetables or other foods they want at the store. Two-year-olds and up can help make the list, either by saying items they want for adults to write or by drawing items. Then, when you head to the store, use the list like a set of directions. All of these actions build language arts skills!

Location, location, location:
On your way to the store, talk about what part of your community the store is in. Is it north? Right around the corner? Downtown? In town? All of these terms help your child explore geography, which is a part of social studies. For preschool and beyond, you can use maps to talk about location. You can use kid-created maps, paper maps or apps with maps.

Family Style Dining

Want to take the fun from the store to the table? Check out our post on family-style dining by clicking this picture!

Going on a food hunt:
As you shop, talk about the colors, shapes and location (under, over, beside, above) of each food item on your list. For toddlers, simply sharing those descriptions helps build math and science vocabulary. For preschool and beyond, you can invite your child to help you find each item with a grocery store version of “I Spy.” “I spy a white vegetable. It’s as big as your head and next to the broccoli.” Cauliflower is more fun if it’s part of a game!

Delicious AND nutritious?:
Build your child’s health skills by discussing what is healthy about items on your shopping list. Here are some easy ways to help your child explore food and nutrition by age.

  • One- and two-year-olds: Ask if a food is new or one they’ve had before. Then, use words together to describe the color, texture or time of day for each food. “This apple is shiny, red and gold. Would you want to eat this for a snack or with a meal?”
  • Preschoolers: Talk about which foods are more nutritious (vegetables, lean proteins, fruit, whole grains are all great options) and which are perhaps better for treats (nearly the snack aisle!). “Those carrots and plums are really healthy, so we can eat them all the time. If we get these cookies, let’s make sure to just have one each. Sweet treats like these have a lot of sugar.”
  • Pre-K: Discuss the link between a food and their individual health. Encourage your little one to consider which drinks, foods and serving sizes are healthiest for them.

Taking the time to encourage children to help plan your trip, staying engaged during travel time, and talking about foods gives you the chance to make the most of your grocery trip. As parents, we also love taking that time to connect. It makes a chore a little more fun, and helps us explore our children’s favorite flavors!

Do you have any tips on making grocering shopping with little eaters more fun? Share them below!

 

Cover image by Flickr user USACE Europe DistrictCreative Commons license.

Teaching Children the Art of Giving

Four year old Kennisyn overheard a conversation between her parents discussing donating to the United Way of Central Indiana. Kennisyn chimed in and told her parents that she would like to donate also. Each day for one week, Kennisyn took money from her pink piggy bank to school and donated to the United Way collection jar in her class. Kennisyn even asked other family members to contribute to her classroom jar and help raise money for children in need.

Teaching children the art of giving develops kindness, compassion, and caring for others.  Anne Frank said “How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” At any age, we can all make a difference in someone’s life by showing compassion through our giving, acts of service by volunteering, or other forms of community outreach.

When families make giving and volunteering a normal part of their lives they will teach their children strong core values as they demonstrate these values in action. This philosophy is also true for educators who create a classroom learning environment that introduces and encourages children to practice social tolerance and respect for all people regardless of religion, race, socioeconomic status, gender, age, etc.  There are many creative ways families and educators can teach children the art of giving. The following are a few thoughtful ideas for families and educators to help children become involved in their local community.

  1. Thinking of You: Have children draw or paint a picture of their choice; frame the picture and give to a local hospital where the patients are fighting a terminal illness. Sometimes knowing that someone is thinking of you gives these patients hope to continue fighting their illness.
  2. Charitable Giving: Children can raise money through a lemonade stand; bake sale, art sale, etc.  Allow the children to choose an organization and donate the proceeds to that organization.
  3. Acts of Service: Ask family, friends, and classmates to donate items to create care packages for the homeless.  Donations may include food such as crackers, packaged fruit, or water; personal hygiene items such as soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste; socks, hat and gloves, etc.  Allow the children to help pack the sack lunches or care bags.

A simple Google search will generate many other ideas to help families and educators teach children the art of giving.  So search away and make giving and volunteering fun for the children in your life.  Follow the child’s interest and remember no deed is too small when the act of service stems from a heart full of kindness, compassion and most importantly, love for humanity.

Closing the summer learning gap

In the blink of an eye, the school year is over and another summer is before you.  The majority of us out there are working parents, and we often have a hard balance to achieve in the summer: keeping kids safe, enriching their learning, and seeing that they have an enjoyable time.

If you’re like many parents, you secured a spot for your child at a local day camp or child care facility.   As a concerned and engaged parent, you may be wondering how your child will fare in the two months spent away from the formal education they received at school. Will they have an educational experience that will fill the gap of school?

Research shows all young people experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities over the summer, and most students lose almost two months of grade level equivalency in math computation skills 1.

While these stats are startling, you can do your part to help your child lessen these kinds of summer losses. Knowing these gaps exist is your first line of defense when it comes to helping your child.  Instead of relying on the summer camps and child care to help fill the gaps, you can help fill the gap by doing your part at home.  Parents are in fact their child’s original teacher, right?

The thought of trying to facilitate your child’s learning is probably the last thing on your mind after a long day at work. However, it may involve less effort than you think.

TIPS TO KEEP YOUR CHILD ENGAGED OVER THE SUMMER

Below are some simple strategies that you can use at home with your child:

  • Limit screen time. Set limits on how much television, computer, video game, and tablet time your child may spend, based on the amount appropriate for his or her age.  Encourage games and websites that are educational and interactive. The Minnesota Parent Center offers a page of links with websites that are parent-approved, safe, and educational.
  • Use practical applications to teach. Participate with your kids in everyday activities. Help your kids set up a lemonade stand. Let them help you cook dinner or bake a dessert.  Put them in charge of tasks while grocery shopping, such as keeping track of coupons or finding the lowest-priced item.
  • Encourage exploration and adventure (even if it’s only in your backyard)! Ask open-ended questions to spark your child’s curiosity.
  • Take your child places in your community. Local parks, museums, theaters, libraries, or zoos help children learn about the world around them.

As you can see, many of the strategies are things you are probably doing anyway. Why not capitalize on the experiences and turn them into teaching moments for your child? The benefits will be long lasting.

A wise man once said, ”Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” Albert Einstein

Here’s to a summer of experiences and learning that lasts a lifetime!

 

1 National Summer Learning Association: http://www.summerlearning.org/?page=know_the_facts

Cover image by Flickr user Penn StateCreative Commons license.