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Unpacking the shopping



Suitable for children: 
Father unpacking shopping bags with daughter

Let your child help you put away the food shopping. Talk about where the food could go.

Is it cold food that goes in the fridge? Is it frozen food for the freezer or dry food for the pantry? Where should we put the fruit and vegetables? Would they all go in the same place?

Before starting to unpack the shopping compare what you bought to the shopping receipt. Read out some of the items and see if your child is able to find the matching one in the bags. As they find each item talk about the numbers on the item and that the number explains how big it is. When explaining this talk about the different ways there are to measure something.

Materials you will need

  • Shopping bags

Alternative tools

  • Shopping receipt
Skills this activity improves
Why does this matter?

Unpacking the shopping helps children to develop an understanding of position and location. It also helps children to listen to and follow directional language. Children will develop an awareness of the concepts of print. It helps children to understand that there are different ways we can measure things and that weight and mass are attributes of measurement. Children will learn to classify and sort objects by attributes.

What does this lead to?

Unpacking the shopping helps children to develop an understanding that there are different ways we measure and compare objects. It helps them to understand that size can be described by different attributes, such as temperature, mass and quantity. It will help children develop an understanding that words and language can be represented through symbols.

Language to use
  • Hot, cold
  • Frozen, melting
  • Litre, gram, cup, kilogram
Questions to use
  • Which is heaviest?
  • Are they all the same?
  • Where would that bag need to go?
  • Do we need to take that inside?
  • Which one is cold?
Useful tips
  1. Remember some shopping bags can contain cleaning products that are hazardous to children.
  2. You might also like to take a look at the Unpacking the shopping from the car activity.
  3. Remember it is important to talk to your child in your home language.
More ideas
  1. Use the kitchen or bathroom scales to measure the weight of the different objects.
  2. Can you make the bags weigh the same?
  3. Measure the different temperatures of the objects.
Variation by age

Three to five year olds

  • Use kitchen scales and blocks for weighing and measuring.
  • Create a pulley system in the garden using rope and cogs.
  • Make a weight chart for the family.
  • Go on a weight search and see how many objects of the same weight you can find.
  • Do some cooking looking at the different ways to measure out the ingredients.

Questions to ask

  • Will the bigger one weigh more?
  • Are they the same or different?
  • How could you make them weigh the same?
  • What would happen if I took one away?

Language to use

  • Increase, decrease
  • Gram, litre, kilogram, cup
  • Change, alter