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When you take a kid to Whole Foods ...

Whole Foods Market is Earlybird's favorite place on earth (aside from his Nana and Papa's, of course), and he asks me constantly if we can go there, when can we go there, who can come with us and whose car we'll take. We usually have the whole trip discussed, imagined and planned out days - even weeks - before we even step foot in the store. ;)

Well, it occured to me that such an avid interest presents a wonderful learning opportunty for Earlybird! Building on what appeals to him - with simple, relatable activities - makes learning easier and more fun (for us both). So I started brainstorming some ideas for a little "Whole Foods Curriculum" and thought I'd share my list here in case it's helpful to somebody else with a child who just loves to food shop!

*Quick disclaimer: I'm a homeschooling mom, not a curriculum expert or special needs pro. I don't mean to present this as anything other than a humble and hopeful collection of home-grown ideas. I'm just going by what might work for my own son and his particular interests and learning/life needs.


27 learning activities inspired by Whole Foods

Make a list of things we need to buy.

Practice spelling and penmanship, expand vocabulary. When we check our pantry and fridge/freezer before making our list we practice good food management and decision-making while taking responsibility for our family's needs (all important life skills).

Try to find items on a prepared scavenger list.

"Made from oats." "Came from the sea." "Smells good." etc. (reading practice, creative/logical thinking)

Look over store flyer and organize coupons.

Good reading practice, and discerning information (what's on sale, what's fresh?). Using coupons to save money - sorting, organizing, budgeting. Simple subtraction (item price minus coupon amount).

Use a calculator to add up a small order.

I wouldn't try this with a big shopping trip, but for a basket-ful of items - using a calculator to predict how much the cashier will ask for. Math - estimation, addition, calculator-use.

• Make reusable shopping bags.

O and r at wf 4

Earlybird with his own reusable bag, a birthday gift.

  Using inexpensive cloth tote bags (from a craft store), decide on design/colors. Great creative/art experience. Discuss why reusing bags makes good sense (environmental science).

Draw a map to Whole Foods from our house.

Creative project using all kinds of skills - geography, measurement, memory, arts & crafts. Use a large sketch pad and colored pencils. Write out directions to go along with map.

Whole Foods A and Whole Foods B - which is closer?

We're lucky enough to live near(ish) not just one, but two Whole Foods stores - I know which one we prefer (size, selection, layout) but which one is closer? Observe odometer at start and finish for each trip, record travel times.

• Practice clear and polite communication.

Think of potential questions and ask for help, make conversation with staff and other patrons (language skills, social skills).

• Practice good cart management.

Earlybird loves to use the cart himself, but this takes a little skill sometimes! The store can be busy, aisles can be crowded (gross motor skills, social skills, patience).

O and r at wf 2

Little Bear is amazed by all the sights to see!

Learn: What does organic mean?

Look for the word "organic" on labels, store signs, flyers. Ask someone to explain what it means (call ahead of time) and/or research at home. Visit the library to research further - ask the librarian to help us look up information: How is organic healthier for us? For the earth? Make up a short "report" with Mama's help. (environmental science, research skills, clear communication, observation, composition/grammar/spelling/vocabulary)

Tour the store.

Ask for a tour with a store manager (or other store staff). Call ahead to ask. After tour, narrate experience (Mom types in) and add drawings, photos. Write thank you note afterwards. (patience, attention, social skills, penmanship/spelling/vocabulary)

Film a pretend commerical.

O and r at wf 1

Little Bear is all business when discussing yogurt.

Ask manager for permission to take video (on phone) while walking around the store. At home, make up a "script" and signs/props for commercial. Talk about what we like about Whole Foods. Record commercial to share with friends and family (language skills, reflection, creativity, oral presentation, diction).

Look for products from around the world.

Make a list of all the countries we find represented, and write down what products came from where. Use a world map to mark discovered countries. What country has the most products? Find out if there are available statistics for that information (ask manager). (geography, observation, communication/language, simple math, research skills)

Where are Whole Foods stores located across the US?

Research store chain locations - which state has the most stores? Look at US map as we research. (geography, observation, simple math)

How do receipts work?

How much money do we spend at Whole Foods? Look at receipt from recent visit, what does it show? Use cash to show the amount of money spent. (math skills, life skills, money management)

O and r at wf 3 

Earlybird and Little Bear on a recent trip to Whole Foods.

Visit a local farm that supplies food to Whole Foods.

Ask the store manager for a list of local suppliers. Visit one (or more) of the farms in the spring and ask about the farm-store connection. Calculate distance from farm to store - ask about how the food/items are transported. Take pictures and write up a "report." (social skills, communication, language, math, geography, community, environmental science)

Tour the individual store departments.

Visit the store and write down the name of each store department. Over following visits, investigate just one department at a time. What is the seafood counter all about? What can we find in the dairy? Talk to a staff member associated with that department - have some questions prepared. Make up a booklet at home describing the information and communication. Use photos, drawings and narration. (observation, list-making, language, organization, communication, social skills, creativity, memory/reflection)

Make up a Whole Foods cookbook.

As we visit the store through the year, keep note of what is in season when. Devise/collect recipes for seasonal foods (baked apples in winter, grilled corn in summer, etc.). Ask for a seasonal list of foods (if available) and use that as a guide. Keep all these recipes and information (along with pictures we take as we cook) in a binder. (observation, list making, language, creativity, communication, life skills, environmental science)

Make a well-balanced meal.

Plan out a healthy meal and write out a shopping list. Talk about how much we'll need, think about how many people will be eating the food. Make sure to include all food groups and talk about why that is important. Talk about the connection between good health and healthy food. Discuss how we feel after we eat a nutritious meal (energized? full?). (list-making, organization, language, decision making, science, healthy habits, self-awareness)

Practice time management.

Plan a very early trip to the store (like, 8 a.m.) and devise a plan for getting there on time. How early do we need to get up? What things have to happen before we can leave the house? What do we need to bring with us? Make a list and post it. On the day of the trip, time each activity that leads up to leaving the house. (life skills, time management, independence, responsibility)

O and r at wf

 EB can be a big help with his little brother. 

Rules are important.

Does Whole Foods have rules? Look at the entrance for any signs (no shirt/no shoes/etc.). Talk about why rules are important. What are some of our family/household's rules? (life skills, responsiblity, community living)

Write a poem about Whole Foods.

Brainstorm words about Whole Foods - nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. Print out the words and cut out so that we have lots of single words on little pieces of paper. Play around with the words and make up rhymes. (language, creativity, grammar)

Conduct a taste test-survey.

Choose a sampling of foods (perhaps WF store brand vs. name brand or another store brand). Invite friends/family to try the foods (decide how best to do this - blindfolded?) and make a note of reactions. Tabulate "votes" and make up a graph to show survey results. (decision-making, organization, communication, math skills, creativity)

Host a Whole Foods party.

A nice late spring/early summer event - decide on date/time, plan out guest list, make invitations, devise menu, write out shopping list, create decorations, etc. (calendar skills, decision-making, communication, language, creativity, patience, social skills)

Have a meal at Whole Foods.

Our local Whole Foods has a cafe where patrons can buy drinks and snacks and enjoy them at a table. Plan an outing with Daddy for an early weekend morning (before it gets busy). What do we need (money)? How shoud we behave? After eating, give Daddy a tour of the store. (social skills, patience, money management, hygiene)

Plant a Whole Foods garden.

In the spring, notice the gardening items that Whole Foods offers: seeds, plants, tools. At home, plan out and create a small garden plan (pots, easy-to-grow items). Purchase seeds and small seedlings at Whole Foods. Peruse tools and other garden implements and decide if they are something we need or not. (list making, organization, environmental science, nature study, creativity, exercise/fresh air, decision making, money management)

Write a letter to Whole Foods.

Find out how to contact the "head' of Whole Foods (look online) and write a letter expressing our fondness for the store, as well as any suggestions or ideas. :) (language, creativity, research, social skills, life skills, US mail)


Well, I guess I'd better stop there, because this post is getting awfully long! Thanks for letting me share all of this ... I hope maybe someone else finds it useful! Lots of ideas, and some of them will work better than others ... we will try them out over the next several months as opportunity (and energy) presents itself! And of course, I'll let you all know how it goes ...

Thanks so much for stopping by today ... have a good one, my friends, and I will see you all here again very soon!

Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 2: Food for the Family


He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


First of all, I cannot thank you all enough for all your survey responses so far!! I have so enjoyed reading through your opinions and ideas about keeping track of all the things that need doing for our families. I'm excited to share the rest of the survey series with you all - this is going to be such fun!

Allrighty then! Today I'd like to talk about managing your family's food, so here are three questions for you:

1. Where do you plan out your family meals?

2. Where do you compose your grocery list?

3. Where do you keep your recipes?


If you have thoughts to share, please leave a comment below, and remember - with each comment your name will be entered in the giveaway (which is described here). If you'd rather not be entered in the contest, please let me know in your comment.

Also, to comment on - and/or read comments on - previous topics in this series, please click on the following the links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)


Well my friends, I hope you all have a lovely weekend ... Mine will be a quiet one for sure, as I've been put on "moderate" bed rest to quiet these Braxton-Hicks contractions! Apparently, the more babies you have, the sooner you can feel these harmless, but rather uncomfortable, contractions. I also got very dehydrated and that's probably what kicked them off. But rest assured - I saw the midwife yesterday and all is absolutely fine with the baby - I just need to take it easy for a couple of days. :)

See you all again very soon!


Marketing Binder ~ Test Run!

Test run 1

Well, I took my new marketing binder on the road with me today as I ran my myriad errands ... and I'm pleased to report it performed very well! :)

Since my current pocketbook was too small to hold the binder, I had to switch up bags. (Which was fine ~ I was in the mood for a "spring switch!") So I chose a tote I haven't used in some time, but was roomy enough to hold the binder and a wallet (as well as other sundries commonly found in any mom's bag). This bag would also be roomy enough to carry my month-at-a-glance binder, should I need to have that with me.

The nice thing about this set is, for one thing, the two pieces match - and for another, I can use a detachable strap and wear the wallet around my body as I shop.

Test run 2

Now, are you ready for some "action shots," lol?

{You are all so good to humor me.}

So here's my binder (and bag) on the car seat next to me ...

Test run 8

And here's my binder (and bag) in my shopping cart ...

Test run 7

(Note: The child safety belt is looped through the bag straps and secured - also, I'm wearing my wallet on me. I've learned my lesson in this area.)

I did get a few strange looks as I took those pictures (though I tried to play it off like I was just checking my email). Nobody asked me about my binder - however, I noticed some second looks in the deli line. ;)

So yes, the binder worked well - my coupons were handy and easy to manage, and it was nice having my list right here in this spot, too. But I realized I need a place for receipts. I don't have room in my wallet for stashing receipts, and I don't like to just pitch them in my bag (which, ahem, is what I usually do). So I bought this "gusseted binder pocket" at Staples today for just this purpose. I'll keep it in the very back of the binder.

Test run 3

I also found my shopping list pages were too thin to withstand the flipping back and forth between sections. (I was using regular Mead lined paper to start with.) So I bought some Martha Stewart "project planner" filler paper to use instead. Not only is the MS paper much sturdier, but I like the design very much:

Test run 6

The design works for me because I tend to write my food list on the lefthand side of my page and use the right side for non-food stops - everything from the library to Petsmart to Michaels Arts & Crafts ...

And speaking of Michaels, I also spent a good deal of time there today, picking out some Lenten craft materials. (And using up some Christmas gift cards while I was at it.) I can't wait to show (and tell) you all about that ... maybe tomorrow if I have the time!

So that's all for now, folks ... but I hope this post was informative (or maybe amusing) to some. :) Time now to make supper for the troops ... and settle in for a nice quiet Saturday night. I hope you all have a good one ... I will see you again very soon!

Making My Marketing Binder

Good  Morning, everyone!

Marketing book 8

Before I launch into my post, I'd like to wish you all a very Happy Valentine's Day! Whatever your plans, I hope your day is filled with much comfort and joy!

Now, about that binder ... :)

So a week or so ago I blogged about my coupon system - or woeful lack thereof - and many of you kindly shared why and how you "do coupons." One such person who shared what works for her was my friend Kim, who zipped me an email detailing her method (with handy links and everything). Her system was built around a binder - but a neat little binder - something easy to tote from store to store.

And because Kim used all Martha Stewart Home Office products, she had me at hello.


Marketing book 1

To make my own version, I purchased a small binder, tabbed dividers, top-loading sheet protectors with pockets, a zippered pouch and coordinating labels. (Not shown is a package of these pockets and I plan to purchase this style of filler paper at a later date.)

Here's the assembled binder ...

Marketing book 3

Up front I have a "holding zone" for the coupons I definitely want to use this week (for matching up with a sale or if a coupon is expiring).

Marketing book 6

Next comes my shopping list section. I may graduate to a pre-printed sheet, but for now I'll just use plain filler paper. This is where I'll write down what we need and organize my weekly errand run.

Marketing book 5

Next I have the dividers which are marked with general categories, i.e. baking, household, dairy, etc. (I used two packages, 10 tabs in all.) 

Marketing book 7

And in between the dividers are the pockets holding coupons - pretty labels denote the type. For example, behind my "household/family" tab I have pockets designated as: laundry, pet care, medicine, batteries, soaps, tp & pt, etc.

Marketing book 9

At the very back I have a zippered pouch for restaurant, store and vendor coupons - like ones for Bertucci's Take Out, Harrow's Chicken Pies, the Hallmark store, Staples rewards, etc.

Marketing book 10

To give you a better feel of the size of the binder, here it is set next to a standard 3-ring binder.

Marketing book 4

And on the spine of the binder I used some alphabet stickers to label it "Marketing."

Marketing binder 1

So now instead of toting a shopping notebook with my lists and clipped on timely coupons as well as an unwieldly accordian file for the rest of my coupons, I can just use this rather handy-dandy note-book. (Did you all hear Steve's voice just then?)

I'm really excited to try out this coupon system, and many thanks to Kim for sharing her idea!

Well my friends, I'm going to log off, and get this day rolling now ... the sun's on the rise, and I'd like to get some strawberry-banana breads in the oven before the boys get up. (The older boys that is - my EB is right here by my side - he'll be a great baking helper. :))

So have a nice day ... and if you have the time, swing back here later this afternoon to join me for tea. It is Tuesday after all!