By Nina Parrish, M. Ed.
Shopping at the farmers market is an activity that I most look forward to during spring and summer. Our area has many wonderful farmers markets. Visiting them is a fun and great way to improve your family's health and nutrition by getting your kids interested in picking out their own fruits and vegetables. It can also be a great learning experience. Here's how to maximize the educational potential of your next trip:
For Elementary School-aged Children
1. Before going, find a simple recipe with 5-8 natural ingredients that can be purchased at the farmers market. Have children divide the ingredients up and each make a list of needed ingredients, so that each child is responsible for certain items from the list.
2. Budget an equal amount of money to each, such as $10. Have the child practice counting the money so that they know how much they have.
3. Go to each booth to help them find their needed items. Then let them locate the list item and choose the correct amount or weight based on the recipe and what they wrote down.
4. Have the child go up to the vendor, talk with them to determine the price of the item, and pay for it by counting out their money.
5. On paper, have them subtract the amount spent from their total after each purchase. Then compare it to the actual amount of money they have for accuracy. When they have purchased the items, let them count the remaining money to determine if they have enough for a special treat like ice cream!
For Younger Children
1. Have children practice identifying the colors of different fruits and vegetables.
2. Let them count produce items that you intend to purchase and put them in the shopping bag. Let kids help count out money or identify coins.
3. Practice identifying different types of fruits and vegetables. Let them sample different types of produce that they have not tried before.
4. Use concrete manipulatives, like apples, to practice adding and subtracting. For example, if I have two apples in the bag and I add two more, how many do I have?
5. Let them sort the produce by color or variety.
Nina lives in Spotsylvania with her husband and daughter. She owns Parrish Learning Zone, a K-12 tutoring service.