" 'Ideas To Help Children Learn Math When at the Grocery Store' [in] A Family Note on Finding the Math"

Making a grocery shopping list, shopping at the store, and paying for groceries provide families with opportunities to teach children various math concepts. Teaching teams including parents may learn how these activities can develop children’s mathematics skills. Shopping trips to the grocery store can help children practice counting and recognize shapes, numerals, and repeating patterns.


The following is an excerpt from A Family Note on Finding the Math.

Here are some ideas to help children learn math when at the grocery store.

Making the shopping list

apples"How many apples do we need so each person in the family gets one?" Encourage your child to use fingers to show how many people in the family (and how many apples to buy).
Number—counting, solving problems

Involve your child in making tally marks or writing numerals (written numbers) next to items on the list to indicate "how many."Encourage your child to make his own grocery list too.
Number—recording "how many"

Shopping at the store

milk carton Point out the numerals that you see at the store, for example, "2 for $1" or aisle numbers. Encourage your children to find more numerals as you shop.
Number—recognizing numerals

Count apples, oranges, carrots, peppers, and other items with your child as you put them into bags or the shopping cart.

Talk with your child about sizes of items, such as cereal boxes or cartons of milk.
Measurement—comparing sizes

Look for shapes (e.g., circles, rectangles, or triangles) as you go through the store. Play a game with your child. Find a shape, such as the rectangle on the front of a cereal box, and then look for other items with the same shape.
Geometry—recognizing shapes

At the checkout counter

checkout counter"We should have five cans of soup. Let's count and make sure."
Number—counting, solving problems

Point out the numerals on the cash register display and talk about what they mean (shows how much each thing costs).
Number—recognizing numerals

Explain that the routine of going to the grocery store is a repeating pattern. "We go to the store, we pick out the food, we pay at the counter, and we go home and eat the food. Next week we will do the same thing."
Patterns—recognizing repeating patterns

" 'Ideas To Help Children Learn Math When at the Grocery Store' [in] A Family Note on Finding the Math." National Head Start Family Literacy Center, Sonoma State University. 2004. English.

Last Reviewed: January 2010

Last Updated: August 11, 2015