By Marlaina Simmons
Olympic-Kitsap Peninsulas Early Learning Regional Coalition
Most mothers will tell you that grocery shopping with young children can be challenging. But what if it could be fun and educational instead? This summer, the Olympic-Kitsap Peninsulas Early Learning Regional Coalition will try out the use of the “Love. Talk. Play.” messaging in grocery stores across our region.
The idea for this pilot came from the “Love. Talk. Play.” activity ideas created by Thrive by Five Washington. We created display cards that list activities parents can do to love, talk and play with their child while shopping. Our goal is to get parents talking to their young children as they shop, helping make it a fun and educational experience.
Learn more about “Love. Talk. Play.”
So how will this look? There will be signs posted in four sections of the grocery store: produce, dairy, bakery and checkout. Each sign offers an idea for the parent to love, talk and play with their children. For example, in the produce department, the sign suggests asking the child to help find fruits and veggies of different colors, shapes, sizes and that start with different letters of the alphabet.
Each participating store will also be provided with handouts that list grocery items that the children can use to do a scavenger hunt. During checkout, cashiers will offer parents a foldout poster with more fun ideas for activities to do with their children at home and while out in their community.
Why did we decide to do this pilot? Since Thrive launched the “Love. Talk. Play.” campaign in partnership with the Early Learning Regional Coalitions in spring 2011, our coalition has struggled with how we could reach the families not receiving services such as WIC and home visiting — and who aren’t using licensed child care. The grocery store is one place we know that all families go.
In this region, we prioritize our efforts to engage with families living in remote and rural areas, and we wrote a grant proposal to Thrive to fund this grocery store effort. Initially, we focused on the one and only grocery store in Forks (one of the most remote areas within our region). With the help of a fellow coalition member within the community of Forks, Forks Thriftway is the first store on board to pilot the materials! We are now in conversations with other grocery stores throughout the region to continue spreading “Love. Talk. Play.” materials and messages.
To find out more about the “Love. Talk. Play.” grocery store pilot, please contact Marlaina Simmons.