How to Turn Trips to The Store Into Adventures for Your Kids

Are your errand days excruciating, with kids complaining and nagging about going from store to store?

Do you rush through your shopping, trying to finish before the kids melt down?

Tired of hearing, “are we done yet?”

What if there was a way to get your kids excited about running errands? To make them beg to go out shopping?

In this article I’ll teach you how to turn your weekly chores into a fun challenge game that will hold your kids’ interest until you get home.

It may even help with their math skills and teach them to be smarter consumers, but we’ll keep that between us!

Errand adventure: turn your shopping chores into a fun challenge, hold your kids' interest, improve their math skills and teach them to be smarter consumers.

Why Play an Errand Day Game?

Running errands is just one of those things you have to do—a necessary part of life. When your kids complain and fuss, the chore becomes even worse.

I’ll teach you how my family was able to transform a day of drudgery into a fun filled family day of play with a simple game and how you can do the same.

You’ll still have to get your shopping done, but when the kids are happy, you’ll be happy, too, and the task will be much more pleasant.

In our family, we dedicate one day a week to running errands. We go to Costco, Walmart, the grocery store, the gas station, and somewhere in between all that shopping, we’ve got to fit in a stop for lunch.

Our shopping days used to be a nightmare filled with kids’ whining, until we decided to introduce a game called “Guess the Final Price.”


Shopping with kids can be a real nightmare. The game in this article can help.

Giving our kids something to focus on during our errands, encouraging a little competition between them, and providing an incentive at the end has made a big difference in their happiness—and mine!

“Guess the Final Price” is a simple guessing game where your kids have to guess how much everything from your shopping trip is going to cost. It’s like a real-life version of the television game show called The Price is Right.


This has been a hit game show for decades. Why not play a real-life version?

The child with the guess closest to the final bill receives the most points.

Repeat the game at each store where you shop to keep the fun going.

You Will Need

  • Family members to play
  • Thinking cap, to keep track of and add up the cost of everything
  • Paper and pencil or a whiteboard and markers to keep score

Preparation Time

10 minute explanation of the rules on how the game is played

Activity Time

  • However long it takes to get your shopping done. (Hopefully, it will go faster with willing participants!)
  • Plus about 5 minutes to tally up the points when you get home.

Location

Anywhere you need to go shopping: grocery store, gas station, or even a restaurant where you eat out for dinner. Anywhere that you’ll be paying for goods or services can be included in the game.

Note: This game works best for kids who have mastered addition (around age 8 and up). Younger kids will need to team up with a parent.

Here’s How to Play:

#1: Prepare the Players

Prepare your family for the game. (It’s not just for the kids. Parents can play, too!) The first time you play, explain that each player should add up the price of all the items you’ll be buying. The person who estimates the total price that is closest to the actual price at the cash register wins the round.

What about sales tax?

There are a few ways to handle the sales tax:

  • Ignore it and realize that the players’ guesses will be lower than the total you see at the cash register.
  • Ignore it, but ask the cashier to announce the pre-tax subtotal as the final price.
  • If your kids are older and have more advanced math skills, ask them to calculate the tax at the end of your shopping trip and add it in to their final guesses.

Each store you visit is a new round of the game.

costco entrance

Costco–one of several stores we visit on our errands.

Before you walk into a store and get your shopping cart, remind the kids that you’ll be playing “Guess the Final Price” and that the winner of the round will get 10 points. This will get them all psyched up and ready to play. They’ll be eager to pay attention to the things you’re buying.

#2: Start Shopping (and Playing)

While shopping, ask your kids if they’ve been adding up all the things in your cart. If they’ve mastered addition and subtraction, they’ll probably have a rough idea of how much you’ve spent so far.

keep track of prices

Keep track of prices as you add items to your cart.

Younger children may give guesses that are way off, like $10.50 or $1,000.

Parents should team up with younger children so they’ll have a chance at winning. This is also a great way to help them with their math skills. There are several options.

Choose an option that’s appropriate for the age and ability of your children and is fair to the older ones who don’t have your assistance.

  • Review items in your cart and give them a rough number close to the total.
  • They could add up the numbers on your phone or a calculator.
  • They could use math manipulatives or a counting-up sheet to keep track.

If your kids are around 8 years old and up, they’ll probably have a better understanding of addition and produce more realistic guesses on their own.

#3: Guess the Final Price

When you’re almost finished shopping, ask your players if they’ve been paying attention and tell them it’s time to add up the total of all the items from your cart in their heads.

If you’re including sales tax, remind your players of the tax rate and ask them to calculate it.

As you wait in the checkout line, announce that it’s time to “Guess the Final Price.” Players then say their best guesses of the final purchase price out loud.

The cashiers usually get a laugh out of this and will often play along by covering the cash register price or asking the kids to repeat their guesses. This makes it a lot of fun, because everyone gets involved.

add up items

There’s a lot of excited anticipation as the items are added up.

#4: Reveal the Winner of the Round

When the cash register has tallied the total for your transaction, it’s time to reveal the final cost, determine who had the closest guess and announce your winner.

Note: My wife and I usually end up in 3rd or 4th place!

excited kids

The kids get really excited when they hear the total.

If you have four players, award points as follows. For more or fewer players, determine the point value before you start the game:

1st Place – 10 Points
2nd Place – 5 Points
3rd Place – 2 Points
4th Place – 1 Point

#5: Play Another Round

kids waiting for total

Here we’re at another store awaiting the total cost.

You can play this game anywhere you make a purchase. At a restaurant just before the bill comes or when you’re about to fill up with gas, ask your kids to “Guess the Final Price.” Award points for every round you play.

#6: Total the Scores

Keep a scoreboard. We use a whiteboard. You can keep track in a spreadsheet, a piece of paper on the refrigerator or whatever works best for your family.

At the end of your shopping day, enter the points for each player.

Our family does most of our shopping on Sunday. At the end of the day on Sunday we enter the scores for that day. There are usually two or three other nights of the week where the kids have a chance to “Guess the Final Price.” On Fridays, we tally the scores.

total up the score

Once a week, add up all the points and announce the winners.

Award prizes to your winners. Be sure to choose prizes that will provide incentive to keep your kids interested in playing the game, week after week.

Our first place winner gets to choose a movie to watch on Friday night and an activity for the whole family to do on Saturday. They can choose from biking, playing at the park, swimming in the summer, ice skating in the winter or even just going for ice cream. The second place winner can choose a movie to watch Saturday night. So for us, both kids get to choose a movie or activity for that weekend and both are winners.

Some Final Thoughts

Playing “Guess the Final Price” during our weekly errands has been a great way to keep our kids entertained and focused so they don’t get bored and whiney.

In addition to the sense of peace and the fun it has brought to shopping day, our children have seen several other benefits from playing this game as well:

  • Adding up prices has helped develop their math skills
  • Paying attention to the cost of things they use or eat every day has made them less wasteful
  • It’s teaching them to realize the value of money and become more responsible consumers
  • The game has been a hands-on way to introduce the concept of taxes

What do you think? What are your thoughts on this game? Do you play a game similar to this, or something else to keep the kids from melting down during your errands? I’d like to hear your ideas or suggestions for how to make this game more fun and interesting. Let me know how by leaving a comment or picture below.

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About the Author, Lee Reboredo

IT techie by day, online marketer at night, entrepreneur at heart. Lee helps small business build profitable online presence. Off the computer, he’s busy with his daughters, loving every minute! Other posts by »


  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    This is such a creative idea, Lee! Thanks for sharing it.

  • Lee Reboredo

    Thanks Jennifer. My thought was, if you have to run errands,
    why not make it fun for the kids too.

  • dibobi

    This is great! Who ever thought grocery shopping could be fun, especially for kids!

  • http://www.moneyfromablog.com/ Lee Reboredo

    Thank you. I’m glad you liked it.

  • William

    your dumb

  • William

    Your kids are retarded

  • dedfd

    dumb kids

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