Prep: None / Activity Time: 5-10 Minutes

Next time you start to write a grocery shopping list, stop! You can turn this everyday chore into an authentic writing experience for your child.

  • paper, pencils, markers or crayons

Step 1: On a piece of paper, write the words Shopping List. Tell your child that you need her help in writing a grocery shopping list (make this a short, practice list). You might say: “I started our shopping list. See the two words at the top? They say Shopping List.” Point to each word as you read it.

Step 2: Ask your child questions to get her input. For example, you might say, “We need to buy some fruit. What kind of fruit would you like?”

Step 3: At this step, your child will become the author of the list. Let’s say your child answers “bananas." You might say: “Bananas are a delicious fruit! Write bananas on the list. You can draw a picture and write the word.”

Step 4: Avoid the temptation to do too much coaching (like spelling the word for her). Just accept the attempt your child makes. She will likely use invented spelling to write the word. That’s OK! It might look something like bnna, where she writes the sounds she hears and knows. It’s good to encourage invented spelling because it gets your child to think about how letter sounds come together to create words. Later on, your child will learn conventional spellings.

Step 5: Go shopping! Have your child read the list to remind her of what to buy.

Include just two items on the list. Ask your child to draw a picture of each item. After she draws a picture, ask her, “What is the beginning sound in (banana)?” “What letter makes the /b/ sound?” “Write the letter b for bananas next to your picture.”

Give your child a blank sheet of paper and ask her to create her own grocery shopping list independently. Encourage her to use a combination of pictures, letters and words. Ask her to read her shopping list to you.