The French Market offers grown ups a few ways to be a kid again, but it also offers kids some neat ways to play grown up in an interesting but safe shopping environment (provided you are at their side at all times, just as you would be at the mall!). If you’re looking for a unique way to teach New Orleans kids the value of a dollar, consider giving your children a small shopping allowance and head to the Flea Market to see what fun and funky things you can find. Perhaps you could even encourage your children to “earn” their shopping trip throughout the week; what kid doesn’t love a good incentive?! Maybe each chore completed earns a ticket, and each ticket is worth $0.25? In addition to reinforcing the behaviors you want to see throughout the week and learning about earning and saving money, your kids will experience social interactions with a diverse group of local and international vendors!
Here are some ways to play tourist in New Orleans while also teaching important lessons about budgeting and shopping:
- Create a game in which your children can earn (and save) towards their shopping trip. You may even consider making a chart in a highly visible location so that they can watch their progress
- Encourage your children to handle their own money, to the extent they’re able (i.e. allow them to shop, bring it to the register and pay for it with their hard-earned income). Take the opportunity to teach them about the value of various coins and bills
- If you’ve got a visit to relatives coming up, say “We’re visiting Grandma and Grandpa next month and need to find them a souvenir from New Orleans. You can pick it out! Here is $10 (or “let’s see how much you earned/saved”) to find something that says “New Orleans” that you think they would like.”
- Or, if you’ve got a family (or even friend’s) birthday party coming up, say “It’s your big brother’s birthday next week. Let’s go to the Flea Market and see what cool things we can find for $20 as your present to him. You know he likes posters…”
- Another game could be: “You have $10 and 30 minutes to find something with your name on it…” (or another specific object of your choice – perhaps it’s a color, shape, etc)
- Say to your kids, “Let’s go on a scavenger hunt! I know your favorite color is blue. Let’s spend $20 total on 2 blue things that you can use.”
- Or, perhaps you have a family vacation or other special event approaching. Why not say “You need a new hat and sunglasses for our weekend road trips and park visits…it will be summer for another two months, even if you are going back to school! Let’s go to the Flea Market and see what we can find.”
Remember, the atmosphere at the French Market is free! Every Saturday there are brass bands from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon that play at various spots from the Flea Market to Dumaine Plaza, and there is daily live music at the Gazebo and Market Café, both kid friendly spots with outdoor seating options that keep kids stimulated while waiting for the food to arrive. You can even get alcohol-free daiquiris at Gazebo Café, which are essentially smoothies with French Quarter flair!
Getting your kids to appreciate what their hometown of New Orleans has to offer is something to cultivate early on, and the French Market offers this experience 7 days a week. Getting your kids to be discerning and decisive about how to spend money on a budget…that’s a life lesson with lagniappe!