Enabling Environments: Community Links - Talking shop

As part of a drive to forge links with the local community, a setting in Durham organised a supermarket trip. Carey Anne Bonser reveals why it has given them an appetite for more.

At Busy Bees Day Nursery, in Durham, we have been working hard to develop relationships within our local community. One of our newest partnerships, with our local Sainsbury's, has enabled us to provide our children with a range of new and interesting experiences. This involved a trip to the store.


In preparation for our trip to the supermarket, the children engaged in a variety of related activities, such as sharing stories, role-play experiences and small-world play. They were encouraged to use our iPad to look online for images and videos of supermarkets and the different roles of staff working there.

We made it a priority that the children helped to plan the trip. They discussed how to get there, the risks that we needed to consider, what they would need for the trip and what would happen while they were in the supermarket.

This preparation was important to the success of the trip. Because the children knew exactly what was planned and what was expected of them, they could then engage fully in what we hoped would be a valuable learning experience.



Our partnership is with Sainsbury's in Durham's Arnison Centre, about a mile from the nursery. To get there, we used public transport. The children wore reflective jackets for the journey and were accompanied by nursery practitioners Rachel Errington and Alison Briton.

The bus journey took only few minutes, but it soon became apparent that this was a totally new experience for some of our children, so staff made sure that these children felt relaxed and confident. Lots of learning took place on board, such as asking and paying for a ticket, pressing the bell at the destination, looking at local community landmarks and reinforcing travel safety rules.

On arriving at the store, the children were met at customer services by Katherine Shackleton, their guide for the day. Katherine and her colleague, Bev, gave each child a checklist of things to find around the store to familiarise them with the layout.

During this activity, they were supported by Katherine and Bev who introduced them to key supermarket employees, such as the butcher, baker and fishmonger, whose roles were explained to the children.

Alan, the trolley collector, spent time chatting with one of our children, who suggested that he would need his wellies today as it was raining outside. Alan explained that he had a coat, wellies and an umbrella. They were fascinated to learn that he was even given suncream in the summer just like they were. They thought it was good to know that he was protected outside in all weathers.

By the end of their tour, the children had been introduced to everyone, from shelf stackers to the store manager. Meeting so many of the staff helped the children to understand more about where their food comes from and how it is delivered and presented to the supermarket.

Afterwards, Katherine took the children in the lift to the restaurant where Neil the restaurant manager had prepared a snack for them all. He even remembered to include one for a child with an allergy.

Katherine organised a party bag for each child filled with surprises such as pencils, chocolate coins and puzzle books. The children had clearly been engaged in a rich learning experience, well supported by the welcoming staff.


When we got back to the nursery, the children couldn't wait to tell their friends and nursery staff every detail about their experiences. They recalled even the tiniest pieces of information. They have since used the photos and documentation from the trip to make a book, so they can revisit the experience at any time and retell their account of the trip.

After witnessing how much the children have gained from this hands-on experience, we have many plans to continue to develop further relationships within our community.


UW: People and communities - enabling environment - visits different parts of the local community.

C&L: Speaking - can retell a simple past event in correct order.

PSED: Self-confidence and self-awareness - is more outgoing towards unfamiliar people and more confident in new social situations.


  • Don't Forget the Bacon! by Pat Hutchins
  • The Shopping Basket by John Burningham
  • Going Shopping by Sarah Garland
  • Mrs Pig's Bulk Buy by Mary Rayner
  • Carl Goes Shopping by Alexandra Day
  • Llama, Llama, Shopping Drama by Anna Dewdney
  • Maisy Goes Shopping by Lucy Cousins
  • Dogs Go Shopping by Sharon Rentta
  • Fairy Shopping by Sally Gardner
  • Grandma Goes Shopping by Ronda and David Armitage
  • My Granny Went to Market: a round-the-world counting rhyme by Stella Blackstone and Christopher Corr

Carey Anne Bonser is manager of Busy Bees. She spoke to Jean Evans.

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