We've all seen it. A mother is walking through the store with her young children. Seemingly, everyone is happy and smiling. Then it happens. One child asks for something, and mom says no. The eyes well up with tears, the little body tenses and then he's on the ground, kicking and screaming with all of his might. The tantrum has hit the fan.
Dragging a bored kid around a store is no fun for all parties involved. But you have to get your shopping done, and if you don't have childcare lined up, your kids are going to have to tag along. The key to avoiding a major meltdown is to keep them entertained, and if they learn something in the process, that's a big bonus. Here are five fun shopping games that are sure to do the trick.
Most people know this one has the Alphabet Game, an age-old staple for long car trips, but it can also work in the grocery store or farmer's market. It's simple: Start with the letter A and name something in the store that starts with A. Go through the alphabet in order naming items that can be found on the shelves. Bonus points for pointing out unusual items that your kids might not know about and for piquing their interest in new foods.
This is a good game to play with older kids who are starting to learn about money and the value of things. Just like the game show, pick up an item and ask them to guess how much it costs. After they guess the price, have them figure out what dollars and change they would need to use to pay for it. If you really want to get them interested, have them play for small prizes, like something from the toy aisle or their favorite candy.
Whether shopping for food, clothes or supplies, everyone loves a good hunt, and your kids are probably no different. If your kids are old enough to walk around a store by themselves, then send them on a scavenger hunt to find items. If they're a bit too young yet, then split up into teams with one team headed off with dad and the other sticking close to mom. This will keep them entertained for the duration, but it pulls double duty as a way to shorten the shopping trip, too. With everyone splitting up the list, you'll be finished shopping in no time.
This game can be as simple or as complicated as your kids can handle. You will pick an item, or an attribute of an item, and ask your kids to find 100 of them (or however many you like depending on how long you'll be at the store). If your kids are young, then look for simple characteristics, like shapes, colors or patterns. For example, have them find 100 items with red letters on the packaging.
If your kids are a bit older, make it a little more complicated by throwing some math in there, too. Have them search for 100 items, with 25 percent of them containing all-natural ingredients, 25 percent containing a picture of the sun on the packaging and 50 percent containing chicken in the ingredients. Of course, what you have them look for is completely up to you.
I Spy is a great game to keep younger kids entertained while letting them work on their letters, numbers, shapes and colors. If you're one of the few people in the world who have never heard of I Spy, the concept is simple. Offer up a description of an object within eyesight and your child looks around and tries to guess what it is. For example, you would say, "I spy, with my little eye, an orange circle." Then, your little one will guess until they get it right. Maybe they see an orange or a round of cheddar cheese.
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- Airlinecreditcards.com. "27 Free Games to Keep Your Kids Entertained on a Road Trip." Nov. 13, 2011. http://www.airlinecreditcards.com/travelhacker/27-free-games-to-keep-your-kids-entertained-on-a-road-trip/