Thinking Friends® • Parents
Welcome to the Thinking Friends® parents’ page. We’re excited to be partnering with you to help your children develop the thinking skills and the behaviors they need to learn successfully, now and in the future. The early years are an exciting time in your children’s development with each day and every experience providing opportunities for new learning to occur. The stories we have developed for Thinking Friends® and the Guide, itself, are merely the starting points for you to bring the Friends to life with your children. There are endless ways to use Thinking Friends® to guide and support the intellectual and social-emotional development of young children. We hope you will make many visits to this page as we will continually update it with new information, ideas and suggestions, many of which we hope come from YOU!


Food, glorious food!

Shopping for food, whether in the local supermarket, bodega, food co-op or farmer’s market, is one of the most important decision-making experiences in our daily lives. Deciding what to buy, determining best value and ensuring that our bodies are healthy are essential life skills. A food store is an amazing classroom, with so many opportunities for us to practice and develop the ability to think carefully and responsibly in order to take care of our family and ourselves.

Food shopping provides endless opportunities for learning with your children. There are so many choices and decisions to make-- planning the sequence in which you will shop, deciding on which foods to buy in each category, comparing items for the best value, or identifying the ingredients for certain items in order to decide if they will be the right ones to purchase. The Thinking Friends® can be a continual source of ideas and support for how to turn the experience into a fun and enriching one for you and your children. Plan ahead for how you will include the Thinking Friends® in the experience or simply bring them all along with you and invite them into the conversation you and your children are having as you fill your basket.

Having a plan in place for a major chore is always a good idea. This is certainly true for shopping when there are so many different items to consider. Try this with your child. Before leaving for the store, ask your child to think of all the different foods she/he could think of that you need with the help of Doggie Definer. You might ask your child, “What foods would you and Doggie Definer think we need to buy on this trip to the market?” If you have notecards or sticky notes write the names down on separate ones as your child and Doggie come up with ideas. You can even do this part of the activity even before a trip to the market is scheduled. (Keep these cards because you can use them again another time. You can even have your child illustrate them or paste pictures of the food from magazines on the card!).

After looking at the notecards, ask your child to see if Kitty Categories can help put the food into groups. As your child is doing this, ask them to explain why they (the child and Kitty!) choose to put certain foods together (while you will eventually want to introduce the idea of food groups, you might also discover interesting things about why your child connects different foods with each other before adding this structure to their thinking). After the groupings have been determined, you might want to ask your child if there is anything missing that you will need from the market. This can be added to existing categories or a new group can be created for the item(s). Once the final groupings have been decided you can use a piece of paper on which to write them down (see example--or use an electronic tablet, if one is available) and bring that along with you to the market.

As you go through the store, ask your child (and Kitty Categories, of course) to check off the items as you both put them into your shopping basket. If you or your child find an item that is needed but is not already in one of your categories, ask them in which category he/she and Kitty think it belongs.

At the end of the experience, ask your child to think about whether they and Kitty Categories can think of another way of grouping the items that would be more helpful the next time they go to the store. You can start by asking them, “How did our groupings of the food items help us shop more easily?” “In what ways did our groupings make it harder to shop quickly?” “Is there another way of grouping the items that would help us shop more carefully and quickly?” Consider closing the experience by asking your child if there are other ways that thinking like Kitty Categories can be helpful beyond the shopping experience.

Please become part of the ongoing learning by sharing your ideas, comments and questions related to this activity. We’d love to hear from you about your Thinking Friends® shopping adventure and other ways you used Thinking Friends® to enrich and enliven that experience for you and your child.

Look and Learn
Check here for links to videos that demonstrate different ways parents have used Thinking Friends® at home and in everyday life outside of school. Use the links below to post your comments, ask questions, and join in the ongoing dialogue about the Thinking Friends

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If you have a Thinking Friends® story idea or an activity to share please submit it to us. If your idea for a story or activity is selected you will receive a one year subscription to the Thinking Friends® forum where you will receive all the activities and new stories developed by us and our growing international community of Thinking Friends®!




Thinking Friends®