How To Spark Learning Everywhere Kids Go, Starting With The Supermarket

You’re in the supermarket with your hungry preschooler in tow. As you reach into the dairy case, you spot a sign with a friendly cartoon cow. It reads: “Ask your child: Where does milk come from? What else comes from a cow?”

It sets a starting point of learning for kids outside of school and creating connections between them and their parents.

In a small study published last year, signs like these, placed in Philadelphia-area supermarkets, sparked a one-third increase in conversations between parents and children under 8.

The total cost of the intervention? About $20 per grocery store.

“We devote so much of our time and energy to reforming school, when you realize how small a percentage of time students spend there. How can we have a faster impact by getting resources right to where people are?”

The idea is more than just brightening up a dull commute. It’s bringing playful learning experiences to families that may not otherwise have the resources or knowledge to seek them out. Hassinger-Das and her team have future plans to bring Urban Thinkscape to other “trapped spaces” in the city, like doctors’ waiting rooms and laundromats.