Tag Archives: Life Skills

grocery shopping for learning consumer math - unschooling

Handi-Skill Spotlight: Surviving the Grocery Store

Not sure what a Handi-Skill is? Perhaps a better name for this series would be Real World or Real Life Skills.

As we start out on our unschooling journey, I’ve had my eyes {and mind} open to finding unschool opportunities for those basic skills that I feel are necessary. I would say that Consumer Math is probably one of the most important to learn before going out on their own, and going to the grocery store has to be the most natural real world math experience there can be!

grocery shopping for learning consumer math - unschooling

I know it’s easier to go to the grocery store without the kids. Oh, boy do I know it! But, if they don’t go, they are missing out on a valuable learning opportunity. Or, maybe you always take your kids, and you are looking for ways to occupy their attention so that you can get the real work done. I want to suggest that perhaps they can be a bigger help than you realize – especially if they are school-age.

First, a couple of warnings:

  1. Do not attempt this when your kids are hungry, tired, or sick. You will both leave frustrated.
  2. Do not attempt this when YOU are hungry, tired, or sick.

In Christian Unschooling by Teri J Brown (p32), she shares how she encouraged her children to practice consumer math. She handed them each $10, and they were to buy their lunches for a week – and that they should be healthy. {I kind of forgot that last part – oops!} This could even be used with younger children – perhaps giving them $5 to choose their snacks for the week.

I’ll be honest, the idea of my kids holding up a line at the grocery store makes me VERY uncomfortable. I don’t like it. I want to take the money right out of their hands and do it for them. But… they won’t learn anything that way. So, I decided that this might be worth a try. {Plus, knowing that they really would only have one or two bills to work with on this first try made it a little easier to let go.}

When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself. Jean Piaget

This might seem like a simple exercise, but let’s break down all of the thinking skills necessary to make this a successful outing.

Price Comparisons

We had a few instances where they had to decide which package was a better price – which meant dividing it out and determining how much it was per ounce {or per item}. Then, even if it was cheaper for the larger one, you have to determine if it is enough cheaper to warrant getting it. For example, Monkey decided to get Pork & Beans. She could get the larger can for about a penny less per ounce, but that was not enough of a savings to warrant having to open a large can when she only needed a small one.

In the breakfast aisle, there was a particularly unusual case. Due to an extra savings that we were eligible for, the larger box of Pop-tarts was actually cheaper than the clearanced smaller package. Four extra pop-tarts? Score!

Kid learn which is the better buy

Clearance normally indicates a rock bottom price, but you should always check.

Making Tough Choices

Monkey also wanted to get some frozen pizzas. So, we looked at one brand {which is not her favorite} and determined that 5 pizzas {with coupons} would be $4ish, and she divided it out to be 81 cents per pizza. Then we looked at the french bread pizzas {which she prefers}, and she determined that it came out to $1.75 per pizza. So, I asked her – does eating 1 french bread pizza fill you up twice as much as the other kind? She decided that it was not worth the extra cost.

Rex’s hardest decision was a little more cut and dry – logically, albeit not emotionally. He desperately wanted some powdered sugar donuts.

learning about tough choices - consumer math

But, at $3 a bag, that put him over the $10 budget. He immediately saw that it was not a good option to put back his corn dogs, but he wanted me to allow him to pull $1 from his own money. Let me tell you – he was so angry at me when I told him no – that the exercise was in making decisions and making the purchases fit inside the $10.

Working Together

They both wanted to get Pop-tarts, and the best choice was definitely the 12 count box. But, they both wanted to have more than one kind, so we suggested that they might want to work together and swap some packages when we got home.

This thought had never even occurred to them! But, once suggested, they eagerly agreed that made sense. {Although I do not hold any allusions that will last for an extended length of time.}

Planning Ahead

What they purchased had to last a week – a whole week. Now, yes, they know that mom and dad have back-up food {ie PB & J and Rice}, but they needed to plan out how long what they were purchasing would last them.

Rex knew that he needed to plan on 2 corn dogs for a meal because 1 just does not fill him up. So that had to be accounted for when he was deciding how much to get.

I anticipate being able to help them learn the coupon process in the future as well – that way they will be able to stretch their money even further.

Estimating

They kept a running total as they went to make sure that they didn’t go over their $10. They knew that we would make them put something back instead of rushing in to the rescue. {And, I am happy to say that they both came in under with a little bit of change left over.}

Working with Money

Not only did they need to have an idea of how much everything should cost {so that they knew if it all rang up correctly, they also needed to have an idea of how much their change should be – and count it to make sure that they got back the right amount.

By practicing {and Mom not stepping in}, they will get faster and less trepidation when trying to give the money to the cashier. This was probably the most stressful part of the trip for me.

People Skills

Oh, could this be where those social skills come in? We chose to go through a real lane instead of the self-checkout lane so that they could get practice handing the money to a person {ie not balled up in a bunch but lying flat and straight} and receiving change from a real person. This way human error was a possibility – necessitating counting the change. :)

For this to work, Mom {and Dad}, you have to be willing to let them make a mistake. You have to be willing to let them experience the consequences of their actions. Definitely guide, but it has to be their decision. For example, had Rex chosen to get the donuts, we were going to let him – then he would have been missing his “real food” in about two days. And, on the flip side, it also makes any successes their own!

I know that some of you are probably very nervous about handing over $10 to your kids. And, let’s be honest, $10 for a week of lunches at home, really is quite a lot. For us, our grocery budget {for 4} is $70 a week for food, so forking over $20 of that was a little stressful. But, I do think that the skills they will learn from this process is definitely worth the sacrifice. And,  on the plus side, no more complaints about there being nothing “good” to eat – it’s all in their hands.

For some further ideas on how to incorporate math into your unschooling life, I highly recommend Joyce’s article Unschooling Math found, coincidentally enough, on An Unschooling Life.

How have you incorporated math into your everyday life? Or does it just happen naturally? Please share your experiences in the comments!

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street intersection by Gidget

Dog Phobia Challenges

We, as a family, really need to get more exercise. {Don’t we all, right?} So, I decided that the way to build up our stamina was to park about a quarter of a mile away from the library in order to walk there and back. {I hate walking without a purpose.} And, I would slowly increase the distance that we were walking each time.

Perhaps I should also mention that my son, who has Aspergers, has a severe dog phobia, and anytime we are out {and especially walking} I must scan the area constantly to be sure that we are not going to suddenly have a dog near us. If he sees it before I do, then I have a flight situation on my hands. As you can imagine, this can make for an exhausting experience.

On this particular day, we were coming up on an intersection, and all of a sudden Rex says “Dog!” and breaks to run away – INTO THE STREET. I grabbed his arm, stopped him, calmly asked him for his hand, and held on tight. {In my heart, I was anything but calm!}

I looked around, but I couldn’t see where the dog was, so I asked him. He pointed to a vehicle that had just parked, and said that it was in the SUV. He was afraid that the dog was going to be getting out. As it turned out, the gentleman was just dropping something off, and the dog’s feet never even touched the ground.

After we got home, and the event was over, I spoke to him. I said “You have to promise me that you will not run into the street if you see a dog. A dog may bite you, but a car can kill you.” He explained that he couldn’t make me a promise that he might not be able to keep because he couldn’t think when he saw a dog. {You gotta love the honesty even if the situation is heartbreaking.}

My husband and I talked, and we decided that we simply can’t take the chance. We have decided not to take the chance just to take a casual walk down the street because you can never guess when he might try to take off – dogs I can see are one thing, but dogs that are inside of a car?!? – that I can’t be prepared for. The only other option would be to hold his hand at all times, and at 6th grade, I simply can’t see that happening.

Who wouldn’t want to walk down this beautiful sidewalk?

Do you have experience with dog phobias? I’d love to hear what worked for you in the comments – or perhaps just share your challenges with phobias and we can commiserate together – after all, there is strength in numbers, right?

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handicraft - teach children massage tecniques

Handi-Skill Spotlight: Massage Techniques

Not sure what a Handi-Skill is?

Monkey and her cousin Lilly used to set up a spa in her room complete with dimmed lights, signs reminding you to be quiet, and soft music playing in the background. Oh, how I wish I had thought to teach her the art of massage.

Do you have little girls who like to play Spa? Or a darling son who like to massage his poor mother’s feet? Well, then what a perfect time to teach them how to do massage correctly. (Not to mention, how awesome would it be to get said massage?)

Sadly, the best site that I found for teaching massage techniques seems to be directed more towards couples massage, but they do a good job of showing the hand movements. You definitely want to take a look at the site before letting the kids on there – or of course you can learn the techniques and then teach them yourself.

MassageFree.com has free video tutorials on back, foot, and arm massage as well as hands and fingers and some that you probably don’t need/want your kids to learn…

If you’re looking for some baby massage techniques, Parenting.com has a good article with some how tos.

And, massage has so many proven health benefits, what could be better than the whole family trading off massage time?

What do you think? Would your kids enjoy giving massages? Getting them? Tell me about it in the comments.

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Linking up with the

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Handi-Skills Spotlight: Changing a Light Bulb

OK, time for something new to kick off 2012 – Each week I plan to feature a different handicraft or life skill that would meet Charlotte Mason’s approval.

The points to be borne in children’s handicrafts are:(a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such a pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not be allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass. Volume 1, Home Education pp 315, 316.

While perusing a list of possible choices at Simply Charlotte Mason, I one struck me as odd – at first.

Changing a light bulb. And, then I asked myself the question – “Do my children know how to change a light bulb?”  Realizing that there was really no reason why they would, I decided that this should be our first task tackled (don’t you just love that alliteration?)

  1. Make sure the switch is flipped to OFF. (This could take some finagling in one of those rooms with several different switches that control the same light, BUT it can be done – when installed, they all were in the off position…)
  2. If the light just went out, wait several minutes to make sure that the bulb is cool to the touch. If you are unclear, you can tap a finger lightly (and quickly).
  3. If the bulb is above your head, find something sturdy to get higher.  NO – a chair is not a suitable step stool – and for goodness sake, if you do use a chair (because we all do it at least once, don’t we?), please don’t use a rolling one.
  4. Remove the blown bulb (Lefty Loosey).
  5. Place it aside on a level surface. It’s amazing how many tiny shards those bulbs can shatter into – and, if you happen to have the misfortune to break one of those corkscrew bulbs, you will have the added fun of cleaning mercury off of your floor… So, as the genie says “Don’t do it…it’s not pretty”
  6. Pick up the new bulb and then screw it in (Righty Tighty.)
  7. Flip the switch to ON to admire your handiwork.
  8. And, of course don’t forget to throw away the old bulb! (I always use the kitchen trash can because I feel like the bag is strong enough to take it if the bulb breaks.)

And now I feel better knowing that my kids will not be leaving the house without knowing how to change a bulb – and BONUS: I now have 2 new bulb changers in the house!

What about you ~ do your kids know how to change a light bulb?