We started our back-to-school homeschooling here at Sweet Pea Academy on August first, and the kids have already accomplished a lot. So, with that in mind, I feel comfortable with taking the this week and the next few and scheduling lots of field trips in, around our at-home lessons.
I'd never been to a Bloom before, and judging by their tagline, there, I had no idea what to expect. Turns out, it's, like, a regular grocery store, pretty much. Except they do cool field trips. So, there's that.
David was our tour guide. He talked about shopping the perimeter and took us first to the Deli. At each store department, he asked if the kids knew what was sold in that department. Since they shop with me all the time, the children were pretty good at answering those questions. Sophia's holding her face here because Jack was examining the rotisserie chicken, of which she is most definitely not a fan.
Each department also features products with stars, the number of which indicate how healthy the product it is. They range from none to three. We tried to find three-star items in every area. Here, they were allowed to watch how the deli meat was sliced after selecting Dietz & Watson turkey, ask questions, and of course, get a sample. Sophie didn't like hers, so I ate it. Yummy stuff!
Next, we visited the Bakery. It was, of course, very hard to find products with any stars there, but they eventually discovered some on the whole wheat breads. They selected one and put it in the cart for later. They also got to watch a cake being decorated, and all were vocal about informing the decorator and our tour guide, David, that Mommy does that, too.
The third department was Produce, where of course it was easy to find lots of three-star items. Chloë beat the other children to it, so here they were running to see what she found and find some three-stars of their own.
Chloë checking out some items for stars - she happily pointed out artichokes for me, since I love those, and broccoli for the three of them. All three kids LOVE broccoli. I think it's their favorite veggie.
David was telling them to shake the coconuts so they could hear the milk inside. They got a big kick out of that.
My kids have never had a fresh coconut. I've never bought one! I'll have to rectify that soon, since they were really interested in figuring how how you get one open, get the milk, and eat the meat. If they don't like it, no big loss, since I LOVE the stuff!
In the Produce Department, David was also trying to teach them - when they were paying attention and not going off in three different directions - about the benefits of organic foods vs. traditionally grown produce. Chloë, naturally, was outspoken about what she knew on that subject and how we used to eat a lot of it. I wish we still did! We'll get there again...
David then took us to the preparation room of Produce, to show them how they slice, package, weigh, and mark the watermelons for people who don't want to buy a whole one. Here, he was explaining why he had to wear gloves and a hairnet.
THWACK! That melon didn't stand a chance.
David made quick work of the melon. There's probably a joke there, but I'm not going to make it. You're welcome.
Jack didn't want any watermelon, so here's Chloë offering his slice to me. That was some good stuff, too. I'm normally not a huge fan - I could take it or leave it - but this was definitely a 'take' occasion.
Next, David showed the kids how to use the heat wrapper thingy. I used to do that all the time in the various groceries in which I've worked, so I wanted to show off my skillz on the machine, but then I decided it wasn't my show to steal.
Then they were shown the produce scale, and how to ring in the codes to produce the right sticker and pricing information.
They were each allowed to put a sticker on a package of watermelon. Simple pleasures...
After that, David had each child try two kinds of "baby" carrots - regular and organic, and they had to guess which was which based on the taste. I sampled, too, and I would've gotten it wrong, but they all got it right! I was kind of impressed by that.
Lastly, they were allowed to taste some pineapple chunks. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the freakin' huge piece Jack selected. He wolfed it down too quickly, though. It was bigger than he was, practically. I tried some, too, and oh, my word, it was delish!
The kids noticed some fruit flies in the back area, so then David went into this explanation of how the store tries to keep the pests at bay and showed them the bug zapper. They would've spent all day on just that if we'd let them!
At last, we were finished with Produce and took a visit through the back to peek into the meat-cutting area. Of course, they weren't allowed in there, but they liked looking at and asking all about the machinery! I was glad it wasn't butchering time. I really didn't want to see that part, myself. Blech.
Here, David was explaining about the back stockroom while I did my best to keep them off the various birds, floats, and other moving objects. Really didn't want a trip to the ER instead of the supermarket!
Another source of excitement was the cardboard box baler. They were all able guess correctly why that was used instead of throwing away the boxes and shared that Mom is really 'big' on recycling!
Watching the baler smush the boxes was fun.
We stepped into the walk-in freezer for the frozen food section after that. Here's Chloë exclaiming, "Oh, my gosh! It's a lifetime supply of ICE CREAM!!" She was disappointed there were samples of that!
Fortunately, David was able to lure them away from the ice cream with samples of Colby-Jack cheese, which Jack again declined because he hates the stuff. (Crazy kid.) The girls, on the other hand, begged about five chunks each off of poor David, who was helpless against their pleas. I snagged a piece, too, and so my pouch was quite full after all my own samples!
In the Dairy section, they were asked to find an orange juice with three stars to add to our cart. They chose Minute Maid and were schooled on what, exactly, is pulp. Do you like a pulpy OJ? I do. Mmm.
After Dairy, we stopped in the Meat Department. Poor David was trying to explain all about the different meats available there and get them to find one with multiple stars, but I discovered a sign promoting a sale on Butt Roast. Hello! I couldn't resist that, so I interrupted, giggling: "Hey, kids! Come read this sign! What does it say?" They read the sign and, between fits of laughter at their reaction, I informed David that I was not the most mature parent in the world. He laughed, too, and allowed them to pick a butt roast for our cart, instead of the lean meats he had been trying to steer them to choose. Hee!
Next stop: Seafood! Chloë was drooling over the shrimp, which she could eat on a daily basis, and showing me the crab legs, which I could eat on a similarly frequent schedule. I won't turn down many kinds of seafood, though. It's my weakness.
David called over one of the Seafood clerks to fish out a lobster for the kids to observe up close. Later, they couldn't decide whether that or sampling all the yummy food was the highlight of their visit.
Since we studied Vertebrates last year, I couldn't resist throwing in a quick review lesson while they were petting the lobster. Two out of three correctly guessed that a lobster is an INvertebrate - I think Chloë was the one who got it wrong, but she redeemed herself by then remembering the word "exoskeleton" and explaining that that was why it wasn't a vertebrate. David wanted to move on from there, so that's as far as we got with that, or I'd have been there all day!
After a quick stop in the Grocery department to find a three-star can of beans, we headed up front to allow the kids to learn how to be cashiers. Chloë enjoyed that so much, she informed me she wanted to be one when she grows up. I started to blurt out, "Let's aim a little higher, shall we?" but refrained, remembering my place. And hey, as long as she's happy, I don't care. Besides, I like being a cashier, too! It's fun.
Chloë was up first, and she scanned the can of beans.
After Sophia scanned the wheat bread they'd picked from the Bakery Department, David showed them how the lower belt worked to deliver the food down to the bagging area. They got a thrill out of turning on and off the belts, naturally.
Jack got a turn in, scanning the orange juice from the Dairy. He could've used a stool!
Sophia was the lucky girl who got to scan the Butt Roast. Butt Roast. Hehehehehe. That still amuses me. I've worked in lots of groceries along the way, and finding "butt" for sale was always funny to me. It still is. Butt.
That was the end of our tour, but wait! There's more! David went behind the Guest Services counter and got them each a nice drawstring gift bag with activity books, pencils, and a toothbrush in each one.
David looking on as Sophia checks out the contents of her goody bag
One of the kids - Jack, I think - turned around then and asked what the helium tanks were. Of course, that led to an offer for a balloon for each of them. Sucker! They even got to be picky about what colors they received. I should've taught David one of my favorite go-to Mommy/Daisy Leader phrases: "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit!" Works every time.
And now that was really the end of our Bloom field trip. What a great experience - for free, no less! I totally recommend checking it out, or anything else on Field Trip Factory. It's an awesome resource for parents, homeschooling or not, and educators in the public realm.
Stay tuned, I've got more to come. ;)