Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's On Sale At Our Store? Playfully Learning

The students in my class were collecting all the items from the dramatic play center in bags. They told us they were “shopping”. This type of play continued for several days, so we decided to talk about stores and what we knew about them. This got us onto the track of the “grocery store” and we decided to create one in our dramatic play center.

First we brainstormed the types of items sold in a grocery store. The children came up with many things including clothing, jewelry, toys, Transformers, and eventually food. We were trying to get them to think of what we may need in our store; shelves, bags, cash registers. This took a few more discussions. To get them involved in deciding what we needed, we set up a suggestion board where they wrote down their ideas. This gave writing a meaningful purpose. We were able to sit with the children individually or in small groups and help them to sound out the beginning sound of the item they wanted to add to the list .

Then we collected empty food containers from their homes. We had to be especially diligent with this activity as we do have several food allergies in our class. We learned that even empty boxes that had contained individually wrapped granola bars with nuts or oats could pose a threat to one of our students. Her mom would come in each day and check the items before we put them in our store.

We talked about how to store, organize and sort the items and label them. This had a collection of children interested in making signs. We then added pictures to their signs to help when it was time to restock the shelves.

When the store first opened we had a problem. The children loved shopping for the items, but then they would take them to another rug and dump them in a pile and eventually start to walk or jump on the items. We went back to group time to discuss this problem. We talked about what their parents did after returning from the grocery store. Did they pile the groceries on the floor and jump on them?

We received many replies of the groceries going into pantries and cabinets. So we recreated this as best we could with our limited space. We moved all the writing materials from two shelves down to one and turned a shelf into a pantry. Each day at center time, we swing the shelf out, so the children who have purchased items, can come “home” and put their groceries away.

Our next problem consisted of children haphazardly gathering all the items they could fit into bags and taking them out of the store. That left little for other shoppers and a ton of clean up that none of the children wanted to help with. Back to group time to discuss this problem. The children came up with the fact that their parents use lists when they shop. Creating shopping lists and then limiting items to five per shopping trip seemed to help with this situation. That and another lesson on the important job of restocking the shelves of the store when items get low, seemed to have our store running much more smoothly.

One of the questions the children wanted to answer in our brainstorming and investigating about grocery stores was if they could make a shopping cart. We gathered scooters from outside, cardboard boxes and wood scraps and made our own very colorful shopping carts. When this was happening, a couple of girls decided to bring our little store in to the modern world, and they made several scanners for us to use.

We also went on a terrific field trip which will be in the next blog.

This grocery store experience has tied in sorting, writing, counting, word recognition, invention, creativity, problem solving, role playing, cooperative play and so much more.

Playfully shopping has led to many days of playfully learning.

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