Grocery Shopping with a Toddler: A Great Opportunity to Teach

Posted on October 1, 2012 by


Almost every Sunday Lily and I head down to Trader Joe’s to get our weekly groceries.  Lily likes to do as much as she can to help me when we are in the store.  She likes to:

  1. push the cart through the aisles
  2. select her favorite fruits and vegetables and place them in the cart
  3. empty the cart and hand the items to the cashier
  4. push the green button to accept the transaction on the credit card

I make sure she uses all the correct names for each food and I answer any questions she has about new foods she sees.  As she has matured I have looked for more opportunities for her to get involved and learn more.

This morning I was putting together a shopping list when Lily started creating a list of her own.  She had a small pad of paper and she started naming foods we normally eat, “broccoli, grapes, apples,” and scribbling down notes.  It was the first time I had ever seen her mirror this behavior and it made me proud to see it.

My wife saw her making her list and said,  “wouldn’t it be cool if Lily had her own shopping list with pictures?”  I was about to head out the door but I waited while she quickly opened Word and populated a table with clip art of various foods Lily would recognize.

We printed it out and gave it to Lily who was excited to have her own list.  She held on to it tightly as I placed her in her car seat.  When we were in the store Lily referenced her list several times and seemed to enjoy using it.

When we got home I took some pictures of the fruits and vegetables we had just bought.  Then I hopped on my computer and began laying out and re-sizing the images.  Lily is just starting to recognize letters and words so I thought it made sense to write the name.  She is also starting to learn how to count in Spanish (she is obsessed with the number ocho) and has learned a couple Spanish words from watching Dora and Diego, so I thought I would add Spanish too.

I printed them out on photo paper and then placed them back to back and ran them through our laminator.  After cutting away the extra plastic I had one index sized card with six food items on each side.


I tried writing on the card with a dry erase marker and it seems to work pretty well.  It dries after about 10 seconds but wipes off pretty easily if you apply a little bit of force.

I am hoping that the cards will help Lily

  1. feel more involved with the grocery shopping
  2. learn more Spanish vocabulary
  3. learn all about healthy food

I didn’t waste too much time doing all of our groceries because I am not sure how well it will work or if there are some improvements that I will want to incorporate.  I will show it to Lily and help her make a list for us next week.  If she likes it I will make more cards and maybe connect them with a ring.

The idea for these cards came from my wife but the inspiration for this blog post came from reading David Seah’s blog.  I just recently discovered his site but I have quickly been inspired to follow his lead in creating as much as possible, both digitally and physically, and making it public as soon as possible to get feedback and learn from the experience.

What are your thoughts?  Anything you would add or remove from the cards?  Can you think of games we could play using the cards?

Posted in: Parenting