Teaching at the Farmer’s Market

Spring has sprung which hopefully means somewhere near you is a blossoming Farmer’s Market! I love going to the Farmer’s Market – fresh produce, flowers, local meat, and fresh squeezed lemonade – it’s my favorite place to spend a Saturday morning. But what I love most about the Farmer’s Market is the kind people who work and frequent it. The local vendors are patient, friendly, and knowledgeable about their goods and are always willing to give helpful information. Many vendors have punch cards for returning customers and hand out brochures about their farms and/or local business. The patrons are warm and outgoing, and even though it’s early on a Saturday morning, everyone seems to just be happy to be there! With opportunities for purchases and conversations – the Farmer’s Market can be a great place to teach!

Benefits of Community Based Instruction:

  • Opportunities for generalizations in a real environment

  • Highly motivating for students

  • Multiple embedded lessons

  • Inclusive interactions

  • Community awareness and travel training


Prior to the Farmer’s Market, show your child pictures and information about the market. This will make your adventure into the community go much smoother! The Autism Helper’s All About the Grocery Store (Life Skills Unit) can be another way to set up a solid foundation. Included you can find social stories, adapted books, file folder activities, and worksheets that can help your child learn more about food shopping prior to going out in the community. More than just shopping, The Autism Helper has multiple community related activities to help your child feel more knowledgeable and comfortable before starting community-based instruction.

Practicing Interactions

The Farmer’s Market is a perfect place for practicing short interactions with a variety of people. Waving hello, saying thank you, or even asking for the price of an item are all natural opportunities that present themselves at the market. The Autism Helper’s Compliments & Greeting Visuals can be used to teach these interactions and provides picture communication to engage with social responses!  Explore requesting items with your child, but don’t be afraid to go beyond requests and begin engaging in conversations with vendors and patrons!

Budgets, Shopping Lists, and Transactions

The obvious lessons at the Farmer’s Market revolve around shopping! Practice planning out meals, shopping lists, and a budget prior to visiting the market. While there, help your child keep track of your shopping list – crossing off items can be an easy way to keep everyone motivated. Transactions are a natural way to generalize money skills on top of social interactions – and can be scaffolded based on your student’s skill level. The Autism Helper’s Money Mega Pack can be used to review money skills before making real-life transcations in the community. I also love the Money Interactive Boom Cards for money identification and recall practice.

Walking and Waiting

Maybe your child isn’t quite ready for transactions or budgets – that’s okay!  The Farmer’s Market can be the perfect environment for practicing other positive behaviors like following a schedule, walking calmly, waiting patiently, appropriate conversation volume, and more.

As we head into Spring, I hope that the warm weather brings outdoor activities for you and your family to practice generalizing skills in your community. Take visits to the park, the playground, local arts and craft fairs, and farms to find an array of learning opportunities. Get out there and make it fun!

Stephanie Kennedy, M.Ed
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  1. Thank you for your encouraging ideas and opportunities to help teach and learn.


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