14 Teachable Moments (While Running Errands)

  1. Make a list. Practice spelling and penmanship by listing all the errands in advance. Your Little can write while you tell her what you hope to accomplish.
  2. Use a telephone book or online directory. Find phone numbers, addresses, and store hours for the places you need. When he or she gets comfortable, see if your Little can find information by him or herself.
  3. Where do we get items? See if your Little knows who provides what services. For example: Where do we get meat? Where do we get clean shirts? Where do we mail a package?
  4. Get out the map. Plotting your course gives your Little practice reading maps and getting a sense of direction. Mark places where you plan to stop, and decide which route is the most efficient. This is also an opportunity to show her or him how symbols work on a map, what the scale means, and to point out compass directions (north, south, east, west).
  5. What’s on sale? Shopping for discounted items is a great real-life example of putting math skills to use. Practice percentages and fractions when you go clothes shopping at the mall. Compare the regular price with the sale price and ask your Little to determine the savings.
  6. Manage your time. Ask your Little to watch the clock during your outing to practice time-telling skills. Occasionally ask, “What time is it?” or “How are we doing on time?” if you need to be home at a certain hour.
  7. Make change. When it comes time to pay, let your Little handle the money. He or she can choose which bills and coins to use. When the transaction is finished, ask if there were other ways to make the total with different denominations.
  8. Less or more? Teach your Little to compare prices. If you’re buying breath mints at the convenience store, is it better to buy a pack of 10 rolls, or 10 individual rolls? See if your Little can do the math.
  9. Interact with adults. Put politeness into practice with unfamiliar adults you encounter on your outings. Tell her to remember “please” and “thank you” when asking for help at the store — and you can set the standard by doing the same.
  10. Lend a helping hand. When it comes time to unpack the car, encourage good manners by making sure your Little helps carry purchases into the house.
  11. Read license plates. Have a contest to see who can add the numbers on the license plate on the car in front first.
  12. How many states? Keep a list of all the states’ license plates you see.
  13. Read the signs. Have your Little read any and all signs. Or count the number of specific signs you see (e.g. 10 stop signs).
  14. What starts with A? Pick a letter of the alphabet and see how many items starting with that letter you can see while driving.

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