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Lesson Plan

Authentic Writing Experiences and Math Problem-Solving Using Shopping Lists

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Authentic Writing Experiences and Math Problem-Solving Using Shopping Lists

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Devon Hamner

Devon Hamner

Grand Island, Nebraska


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology






  • Access to the price list for items in the store

  • Ten cents per student (provided by the teacher)

  • Items for sale in store, storage containers, and small bowls

  • Latex gloves to wear as you serve food items

  • A cash register or money box to use for collecting the money the students spend at the store

  • Books with a money theme

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  • Decide on the items for sale in the class store. Be sure to check for food allergies and preferences and align offerings accordingly. Assemble the food items, containers in which to display them, small bowls to hold each student’s purchases, and gloves to wear as you serve the food items.

  • Collect enough coins for each student to have ten cents to spend at the store. You will also need a cash register or money box to use for collecting the money the students spend at the store.

  • Prepare a price list for students—a poster with pictures and prices works well.
    Fish crackers = 1 cent each
    Stick pretzels = 1 cent each
    M&Ms = 1 cent each
    Animal crackers = 2 cents each
    Carrot sticks = 2 cents each
    Celery sticks = 2 cents each
    Sandwich cookies = 5 cents each
    Boxes of raisins = 5 cents each
    Apple slices = 5 cents each
  • Provide forms or blank paper for students to use to create their lists.

  • Make one copy per student of the reflection sheet or use one enlarged copy for students to use in discussing and reflecting on the activity.

  • Assemble a collection of books with a money theme. (See the list of titles provided for examples of appropriate books.)

  • Bookmark Websites.

  • If possible, enlist a parent or aide to act as the store clerk while you finish conferencing with students on their lists. A third helper is an advantage for collecting money so that the clerk doesn’t have to keep taking the gloves off to collect the money at the checkout and put them back on to serve food items.

  • Include a note in your class newsletter to let parents know your class has been learning about grocery lists. Encourage parents to talk to their children about their family’s grocery lists, include their children on a trip to the store to buy the items, allow the children to help find the items at the store, cross them off the list, and help pay for them at the checkout counter. Gerald Oglan’s article “Grocery Lists, Shopping, and a Child’s Writing and Spelling Development” provides strategies for helping parents understand the inventive spellings and composition strategies of emergent writers in a similar context.

  • Collect grocery store ads.

  • Have a board or chart tablet to record why people make lists.

  • A simple version of your own grocery list

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