Getting children out of the setting and into the real world is so good for them. The walk into town is great physical exercise. Learning how to behave in shops, or on public transport is brilliant social development. There are also always exciting new experiences to be found for the intrepid early years exploring group. This idea for a trip should be equally practical for a city centre nursery and a childminder in a small rural town.
The destination for this trip is a shop with a fresh cheese counter. The children are likely to get more from the outing if you are able to visit a standalone deli, but the counter of a local supermarket is still a good option. Whilst you could just turn up, it’s always worthwhile giving businesses advance warning of what you’re planning. Especially if you’ll be visiting an independent shop, letting them know that you’ll be telling all the children’s parents about their visit may encourage the business to be especially welcoming!
This trip is ideal with a medium sized group; 6 - 8 children from 2 years and up would be our suggestion. When you arrive at the shop, start by encouraging the children to talk about what they can see. Some questions you could use to stimulate conversations include;
Make your way to the cheese counter, and encourage the children to greet the staff confidently. How the trip proceeds will depend somewhat on the business you’re visiting, and how much you’ve discussed with them in advance. Hopefully the staff will be happy to supply some small tasters of different cheeses for the children to try. Encourage the children to try a wide variety of different cheeses such as;
Support the children to talk about their likes and dislikes. If they are willing, encourage the staff to share their knowledge with the children. For example, explain to the children that sometimes cheeses are stored for months or even years before they come to the shop. This is to make the cheese have a stronger taste. Let the children taste the difference between a strong and mild cheese as well.
It’s important to give local businesses who support trips like this your custom. Once you’re reaching the time to leave, get the children to decide on their 2 or 3 favourite cheeses. Purchase some pieces of each of these to take back to the setting. These can be prepared for a snack time so that the children who couldn’t go on the trip can still be involved.
In addition to the many benefits of trips in general, this outing has some particular strengths. Meeting people who work in a deli is a wonderful opportunity for children’s understanding of the world to develop. Showing them professions beyond the typical “people who help us” roles like the police and fire services is fantastic. This visit also offers children a rare opportunity to exercise their sense of taste. Supporting children to find the words to describe things they are tasting is a lovely way to enhance their speech development. Finally, the process of purchasing pieces of cheese is full of opportunities to use maths. Talking about which piece is bigger than the other, using positional language to describe where different cheeses are located in the display, and helping to count our money to purchase their favourites are just some of the options.
Please remember; cheese is a dairy product, and some soft cheeses are not suitable for those with weakened immune systems. It is always important to risk assess any activities like these to make sure it is conducted safely, and with the most suitable children.