Grocery Store Games: Ideas to make the weekly chore more bearable
by Kathleen McCormack
Grocery shopping used to be an errand I actually enjoyed. Stopping for samples and picking out new products was, dare I say, fun! But now that I have two young children, I’d rather have my fingernails pulled out with pliers. When shopping at 9pm once the kids have gone to bed isn’t an option, here are some tried and true games to make grocery shopping more tolerable for everyone.
Remember that handheld game with the four colors that would light up in a pattern? Take inspiration from Simon and play your own pattern game, challenging your child to repeat it. Add on one more object each time your kid gets it right. Make as long a pattern as possible. Great for working on memorization skills (theirs and yours!)
Circle, horse. Circle, horse, chair. Circle, horse, chair, brown.
For older kids, use concepts they’re learning in school, like words from a vocabulary list.
Nucleus, ribosome. Nucleus, ribosome, chromosome. Nucleus, ribosome, chromosome, mitochondria.
Ask your child to find all the objects on a list of common grocery store products. A quick Google or Pinterest search will bring up lots of free printables. Or have your child make his/her own by clipping out pictures from the weekend flier.
Need a version that you can do with less prep? Assign each child a color/number/letter/shape. Challenge them to find as many objects that match throughout the store.
Kids love seeing moms and dads let loose and act goofy. Allow them to decide an action you will do in each aisle. In canned vegetables, you have to skip. In the dairy section, you have to hop on one foot. Yep, some people are going to look at you funny but it’s better than them staring because your kid is having a meltdown.
Make up a story together by going back and forth adding on new details. For younger players, you lead the story but pause to let them fill in details a la Mad Libs.
“There once was a Princess named…”
“And she lived in the Land of…”
Having trouble concentrating on your shopping while trying to think of a story? Use the products around you as inspiration!
“Professor Heinz, the great and terrible, took over Pillsbury City using his magical celery wand.”
Adapt a traditional car game like the Alphabet Game. Find all the letters of the alphabet in order from A to Z by checking out packages on the shelf or signs around the store. See how many times you can get through the alphabet in one trip. Older kids could try doing the alphabet backwards.
Allow older children to help you decide which brand is the best deal. Show them how to check prices by reading the price by weight or size. Then have them factor in coupons and sales. It’s never too early to start learning money management! They’ll love the sense of empowerment they feel by taking part in making real financial decisions for the family.
Your kids complain that shopping takes too long and you’d rather not be there either, so set a time goal for the trip. Looking at your list, make a good guess as to how long it should take you to finish the chore, then put your kids in charge of the timer (you probably have one on your phone). If you meet or beat your goal, decide on a reward you all get to enjoy, perhaps playing a favorite board game together when you get home. Point out that their cooperation in making shopping faster and easier leads to more time for fun activities!
It's a classic for a reason. Give them an action to perform, but they should only do it if the command starts with "Simon Says". For younger kids, pick actions they can do while sitting in the cart seat. Touch your nose. Reach up high. Wiggle your ears. For older kids, choose actions that keep them moving. “Simon Says walk quickly to the end of this aisle.” Customize the game to your children by replacing Simon with the name of a favorite character. How about "Elsa says..."?
The Price is Right
Once you’re ready to check out, give your kids a “budget”, let’s say $10. Ask them to pick out objects from the cart whose prices equal $10 or as close as possible without going over. Encourage them to pay attention to prices during the whole trip in order to be successful.
One Final Tip
Kids associate shopping with being a burdensome chore. Change the connotation by occasionally going to a store when you’re not in a rush. Visit just for the fun of looking around and exploring products. My little ones think JoAnn Fabrics, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby are indoor play centers. Barnes & Noble has a children’s area with books and toys, and sometimes even a train table or a stage for storytime. The Dollar Store is full of fun trinkets, and everything is so cheap, if they plead for a toy, it won’t break the bank. Both Michael’s and Target have great dollar bins. Change their perception of the shopping experience and they won’t groan every time you head out to run errands.
If you’re lucky enough to live near a Wegmans, you won’t need these games because they already offer so many opportunities for kid-friendly shopping. Read our article here for 15 Ways You Didn't Realize Wegmans was Helping You Shop with Kids.
© 2014, KidsOutAndAbout.com
Kathleen McCormack is managing editor of KidsOutAndAbout.com and lives in the Rochester, NY area. Grocery shopping by herself without her two very young kids (wonderful and beautiful as they are) is her idea of a hot Saturday night party.