I had to do the supermarket food shop with all the children on a Saturday morning. Whilst the children are generally good while shopping it still fills me with dread. It is one of those jobs that I want to get done as quickly as possible. I decided I would get the girls more involved with the shopping as well as use the trip as an opportunity for Isabel to practise writing for a purpose. As children start learning letter sounds and experiment with writing, it is important to try to encourage writing for a purpose. This gives the children motivation to write and they start to see why we write things down. Just teaching and practising the mechanics of writing can get very boring.
Before we went shopping I asked Isabel if she could write the shopping list for me. She could then find the items on the list and put them in the trolley. Isabel was keen to do this and found a pencil and some paper. I drew lines for her to write on because it helps to give the letters she writes some structure and stops them floating about all over the page. As I told her the items we needed I was mindful of her ability to write. She is still in the early stages of writing so I made sure I gave her items she would be able to have a go at writing. Instead of ‘spaghetti’ I said ‘long pasta’ as this was easier for her to sound out.
Megan could also get involved in a different way, she is far too young to be learning letter sounds, but she is not too young to be ‘reading’ for a purpose. I talked about the different fruit we wanted to buy and drew a very simple picture of each fruit. (It doesn’t have to be perfect my drawing is terrible, but I made sure I used the correct colour for each piece of fruit).
A child that has just started to learn phonics will recognise a few letters. They will be able to have a go at writing the first letter of a word next to the picture. E.g. ‘b’ for banana, ‘a’ for apple etc. It doesn’t have to be perfect as long as they can read it.
A child that has had a lot of phonics teaching is able to write well phonetically. They will be able to have a go at writing some of the words correctly. For example when most children start writing they will write bread as ‘bed’. Next they will write ‘bred’. Finally they will write ‘bread’. This is because they have learnt the long vowel sound ‘ea’, they are able to read that sound correctly. When the child writes it they will be able to recognise that ‘bred’ looks wrong and that they need to use the ‘ea’ sound in the middle to make ‘bread’.
Isabel was keen to write a few words, but if she was only keen to write two or three words then that would have been fine too. It is important to challenge her but not push her too much that she loses interest altogether. Once the list was finished she went to ask Granny if she needed anything from the shops. Granny then wrote her item on Isabel’s list and gave her £1 to buy it. Isabel thought this was the best thing ever and kept that £1 coin very safe in her pocket constantly checking it was still there!
Once we got to the shop Megan was in charge of the fruit. She started off very keen and pointed to banana on her list and found the bananas. Once she had a bunch of bananas she was happy to sit and cuddle them for the rest of the shop and gave up her shopping list. Isabel then took charge reading out the items on her list, finding them on the shelves and putting them in the pushchair. She loved leading the shopping and she constantly checked her list to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything. This meant she was able to read back her own writing and understand why we had to write things down. The best thing for Isabel was getting the loaf of bread for Granny. She wanted to pay for it herself so put it separately to my shopping at the till. She waited until I had paid and then it was her turn. The lady on the till was brilliant asking her if she needed a bag, told her how much money she needed to give, then gave her a receipt. Isabel made sure she put the receipt in her pocket and gave it to Granny along with her bread when we got home.
Isabel then said it was the best shopping trip ever! It was also the most relaxed I had been whilst shopping for a long time. We will definitely be doing it this way again in the future.