The grocery store is a fun opportunity to incorporate easy early literacy activities into a regularly mundane errand.
Before you leave for the market:
Write the shopping list together. Have your child practice their writing skills by having them write out the list before you leave for the store. If they haven't learned to write yet, ask them to draw the food (milk cartons, bananas, etc).
Discuss what you need to buy. Talk about the different items of food that you plan on buying. Explain how fruit is different from a vegetable. Discuss ways to cook the food on the list and how you can plan a menu together for a family dinner. By involving kids in the entire process, they are more likely to enjoy and eat what is on their plate.
At the market:
Label what you see. For young infants and toddlers, it is vital to label the different food items in the market. Babies and toddlers learn language and new vocabulary through repetition and labeling. By labeling the items you pass or pick up at the market, they are learning new words and making associations with objects they'll see in and around the house.
Help a helper. Children love to help. If you feel they are old enough, give them a portion of the list and ask them to collect certain items to bring back to the cart. Ask them to help you read the labels on boxes and jars to find the exact flavor you are looking for.
Focus on concepts. Grocery items come in all shapes and sizes. Help your child with different concepts by having them compare the size of boxes. You can teach them the fundamentals of geometric shapes by asking them to point different shapes they see in the aisles. You can create a mini grocery store scavenger hunt and ask them to look for certain items (a box, a fruit, etc).
(Don't forget that these books can count for your 1000 Books Before Kindergarten log).
To Market, to Market by Anne Miranda - J Picture Book Miranda
Edwin Speaks Up by April Stevens - J Picture Book Stevens
Bebe Goes Shopping by Susan Middleston Elya - J Picture Book Elya