The mall has a wealth of early literacy potential. From the basic concepts of counting, shapes and sizes to more detailed concepts of basic arithmetic, spelling and reading. Don't forget that these books can count for your 1000 Books Before Kindergarten log.
In the car
Point out all the print you can see from the car; on signs, buildings, inside the car, etc. This activity builds print awareness and can help develop vocabulary. Talk about what you see outside of the window. Discuss shapes, sizes, colors. Ask them to point out cars that are their favorite color (count the blue cars!) Ask them to narrate what activities they see going on outside of the window. This activity will help foster narrative skills. You can recruit older children to help with spelling games. Ask them to spell STOP when you are at a stop sign. Talk about the difference between STOP and YIELD.
Other options: Listen to audiobooks, or a children's nursery rhyme CD.
Humpty Who? A Crash Course in 80 Nursery Rhymes for Clueless Moms and Dads (Parenting 398.8 Griffin)
100 Favorite Nursery Rhymes (J CD Songs One)
In the parking lot
While you are driving around looking for a space to park, ask your child what they notice about the parking spot. Are the spots straight or diagonal? Is where you parked near or away from your destination? Count the floors as you go up the ramp in a parking garage.
Cars by Anne Rockwell (J PB Picture Book Rockwell)
Caillou: The Shopping Trip by Nicole Nadeau (J PB Picture Book Nadeau)
Walking to your destination
After you’ve parked, talk about the road safety in the parking lot. Ask them to guage if other cars are driving quickly or slowly down the lanes. Have your child guess how many steps it will take to arrive to your location. Have them count their steps or recite the alphabet to see where they end up when you arrive. Talk about your day. What stores are you going to, what do you plan on buying, who is this item for? Are you shopping for clothes, shoes, kitchen appliances?
Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London (J Picture Book London)
Curious George Saves His Pennies by H.A. Rey (J Picture Book Rey)