Capturing Teachable Moments at the Grocery Store

We are fortunate to have a wonderful grocery store (HEB) in town that gives out free “Buddy Bucks” to the children as they pass through the grocery aisles.  I am often tempted to tell the cashier “no thanks,” because I’m usually so ready to get out of the grocery store and into the car after shopping with my spectacular seven.  I only had three of them with me today, including Noah, so I went ahead and let them have their Buddy Bucks.

The way this works is the cashier, with a parent’s permission, hands a “Buddy Buck” to the child, the child takes it over to a machine that looks like the wheel on “The Price is Right”, the child inserts the buck, pushes a button which causes the spinning wheel to stop, and whatever square the wheel stops at determines how many points are printed out on a sticker that pops out of the machine.  The sticker is then put into a booklet and added to other points on future visits which can then be redeemed for prizes.

All that to say that I worked in a good therapy session with Noah at the grocery store today that would have taken me a lot of time and frustrating distractions if I had tried to do something similar at home.

It’s times like this that just a tiny bit of awareness and creativity on a parent’s part can turn an errand into a captured teachable moment.

So how did I do it, and what’s so great about a Buddy Buck?

First, understanding that money is used in exchange for goods is a very important life skill, and it is never too soon to start understanding that.  So Noah is handed a buck, and he is exchanging it for a sticker.

Next, Noah is having to exercise his memory in order to put the money in the right slot in the right way, not to mention having to use fine motor skills.  He is also having to remember where the machine is located.  In short, he is remembering a process.  This is VERY good brain exercise, and again we are addressing life skills.  When Noah is a little older and he is hungry, I will expect him to figure out that when he is hungry, he needs to go to the kitchen, get the bread, go to the toaster, put in the bread and wait for it to be cooked.   Processing what to do with a Buddy Buck is setting those thinking and memory skills in motion.

After Noah pushes the button, he has to wait for the wheel to stop.  Another very important thinking skill is giong on here.  Noah is seeing that the sticker isn’t coming out immediately and the wheel has not stopped moving, but experience has taught him that if he waits, he will get a sticker.  This is a great time to practice “wait” in ASL.

When the machine gives him a congragulatory comment, he knows the sticker is ready and he takes it out of the machine.  He peels it (fine motor) and sticks it into his record book which I keep in my purse.

I didn’t get to it today, but this would be a great time to review numbers with him, as we have several stickers from previous visits, each with a different number on them.

I think my favorite life skill taught in all this is delayed gratification.  He may not completely understand the system yet, but this is a precursor to Noah being able to handle his own money some day, at least to some extent.  He is learning that just because money (stickers) are coming in and being put “on the books,” it can’t go out until he has accumulated enough to pay for what he wants.

Now that I think about it, I think I might be able to capture teachable moments with Buddy Bucks with most of my kiddos.

Another reason to go shopping?  Goody (as long as I can just take two or three with me at a time).


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