Spring is finally here, and one of the best things about the season is the reopening of seasonal farmers’ markets all around town. You may already think of these markets as a perfect place to peruse fresh produce and handmade treats, but did you know they are also filled with language learning opportunities? Here are some great ways to help encourage your child’s language growth at the farmers’ market or grocery store, no matter where they are in their development!

Early Language Skills

  • Label all the goods for sale, and point at each one to encourage joint attention skills
  • Encourage requests by holding desirable items (cookies, favorite fruits, etc.) just out of reach of your child. Model a request for them to imitate, such as “I want the cookie” or “Apple please”!
  • Practice basic opposites, such as “big watermelon” vs. “little strawberry,” or “hard cantaloupe” vs. “soft peach.”
  • Learn about categories by asking your child to show you a fruit, vegetable, plant, or dessert item in different booths

Higher-Level Language Skills

  • Encourage your child to make predictions and inferences. For example, tell them you want to make a salad for dinner. Can they predict which ingredients you’ll need? If you tell them you’re craving something sweet, can they infer you might want to visit the bakery stand?
  • Compare and contrast different items. What do a peach and a mango have in common? What’s different about a tulip and a rose?

Social Skills

  • Have your child greet the different vendors with a friendly “hello.”
  • Allow your child to practice independence by paying for their own treats. This allows them to interact appropriately with the vendor, as well as work on important life skills!
  • Work on sharing by encouraging them to split a cookie or other treat with you or a sibling.

These are just a few of many examples of how to elicit language at the farmers’ market or grocery store. Try them out next time you stop by one!