I recently spent a Saturday afternoon with my family at Costco. We make a Costco run every few months to stock up on bulk items such as paper towels, laundry detergent, and pasta. However, the trip is not only practical, it’s fun too. My whole family looks forward to the Costco run – but not because we love shopping or waiting in lines. No, we look forward to the Costco run for a very specific reason – it’s all about the samples.

We time our trips around lunch or dinner, so we’re all good and hungry. We force ourselves through the shopping at the front of the store and once we reach the back, we’re rewarded with an ever-changing smorgasbord of culinary novelties. Like I said, it’s all about the samples. We’ve munched on everything from hot sauce, to toffee, eggrolls, and smoothies. Recently we sampled pierogi, whole grain bread, frozen Italian ice, and specialty crackers. Although we had no intention of buying these items, we ended up walking away with three or four products in our basket.

An Appetizing Idea

So what does this have to do with the classroom? Well, we all struggle to hold our students’ interest and keep them excited about learning the content we have to share. So why not try a page from the Costco playbook? Think of your content as bite-size, tantalizing samples. Create a classroom culture where these samples are doled out to foster interest and wonder.

If you’re teaching consonant blends to young children, dazzle them with the fun fact that there are only two words in the English language that end in “-gry”. If you’re teaching middle school students World History, challenge them to tell you whether Cleopatra lived closer in time to the building of Pizza Hut of the building of the pyramids. Use these not as an obligatory interest-grabbing introduction to a lesson you rush through, but rather as standalone nuggets of information that whet their appetites and leave them wanting more.

A Taste for Teaching

These tidbits of learning might just do what samples at Costco do for us. They not only land the sale (i.e. student interest in the topic), but more importantly, they make a mundane shopping trip into an experience they’ll enjoy (i.e. make your place of organic learning and fun).

So, are you wondering which two words in the English language end in “-gry”? If so, my point is made. A small sample of content fosters intrigue; intrigue builds motivation to learn; motivation to learn creates lifetime students that not only master their content but engage any life lessons they encounter as they grow.

P.S. I’ll save you the Google search. The two words are “angry” and “hungry”. Also, Cleopatra did indeed live closer in time to the building of Pizza Hut than the building of the pyramids.

What about you? What samples do you use to inspire students?