After a long day at work, I was never ‘thrilled’ to take my daughter grocery shopping. Mostly, it was because I was just drained and I knew that she was too. I never knew if we would be ‘that family’ that had the meltdown in the grocery store (I’m including myself in that meltdown too!) Grocery shopping became easier when I kept us both engaged in learning and fun! Here are some tips that you can share with your student’s parents that will encourage bringing the kids to the store and building their speech and language while they are there!
1.) Build Vocabulary by Labeling and Describing EVERYTHING! The grocery store is filled with speech and language opportunities. Parents and students can discuss size, color, function, category, location, etc.. Trying to find a few items in the same category is always fun!
2.) Work on Prepositional Phrases! Is the item that you are looking for on the top shelf? Between the canned corn and the canned green beans? Is it on the second shelf?
3.) Work on Following Directions! It can be as simple as ‘please grab the big box of Chex’ or more complex such as ‘After you grab the small box of Chex cereal and put it in the cart, point to the kind of instant oatmeal you would like us to buy this time.’
4.) Work on Taking Turns and Inferencing Skills! That is right, play good ole’ I SPY in the grocery store! Encourage parents to take turns with their kids in describing an item, its use, where it comes from (tree, cow, etc..), and its appearance while the communication partner guesses!
5.) Work on Pragmatic Skills! Model and reinforce positive social skills and language to demonstrate good manners. Practice taking turns asking and answering questions about the environment, what they need to find next, where they might find the item, and using please and thank you when asking the bakery for that free cookie or sample (not all stores offer the cookie but you would be surprised how many do!)
6.) Have a Sound Search Party! While walking down the aisle, how many items can the student find that has their sound? Where is the sound located in the word (initial, medial, final position)? Did the student find more or the parent (I always encourage making it into a game)?
7.) Build Executive Functioning Skills! Prior to going shopping have parents and students decide on a recipe they want to complete at home and make the shopping list for it or just a shopping list for that week’s groceries. By planning ahead, getting organized, making a list, and developing a plan for where in the store they need to go, student’s are building executive functioning skills!
8.) Expand on these Lessons at Home with the Little Ones! If they have a play kitchen at home… bonus! However, these days parent’s can get cheap toy food at the local dollar store or at some of the chain stores. Continuing to practice the above-mentioned tips at home during play will increase speech and language skills too (plus it is a bonus if you just really can’t bring yourself to include the kids at the grocery store due to the fear of meltdowns)!
How do you encourage parents to build speech and language skills at the grocery store? There are a million ways (including learning money names, values, and concepts)! To get your own copy of my Speech and Language Skills at the Grocery Store handout, simply complete the form below and I will email it to you.