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  • Writer's pictureLeah Vizgan

DIY Pretend Play Grocery Store Shopping Fun

This awesome set up all happened innocently and on the whim with what we already had in the house. I woke up and this idea just popped into my head. I knew I needed to change up the play scenery for the kids after being quarantined / self-isolated for almost a month. I needed something new and fun to keep the kids busy, entertained and learning. First I will share a little secret that helps me from having too many toys in the house and within my kid's reach and allows me to always change the kid's toys therefore always keeping things new and fresh. I store all the kid's toys by category (food, music, blocks, animals, dolls, cars, doctor and so forth) in separate boxes in the storage room. Out of the kid's sight and reach. I change the kid's toy boxes as I see fit, sometimes weekly, other times based on how long the stay interested or when they loose interest. So I had a "food" box in the storage that the kids had not had access to in quite a while. For toddlers, this means "new toys" because they have forgotten about them completely. So, I got the kids to help me and we started packing everything in the playroom. Which was a challenge since they didn't want their toys to be packed but I made them participate and kept them busy. Then I started scanning the house for furniture that could be moved easily and used for the grocery store. I set up the tables and shelves for display of groceries and then set up a table for the checkout counter and finally, I added the kitchen because my daughter wanted to "cook" what she bought from the grocery store. Then I role-played with the girls a few times to help them understand the concept and idea and let them free play. It was a success. After some free play, I would come over and role-play adding in education like math, weighing food, pricing food, paying for food, using cash or credit card and so forth. This way the learning felt like a game. This also included teaching about only buying what we needed, taking one item from the basket of fruits instead of pouring the entire basket of fruits in the cart. Plus buying certain ingredients for what we plan on cooking/preparing. So I would ask questions like "what do you want to cook?" and my daughter would answer "pancakes with banana and strawberries and cream!" and I would help her pick out the ingredients and then pay for them at the register and finally take her groceries to her play kitchen to play cook them. After we were done playing, I had my girls restock our grocery store and tidy up so it would be ready for the next playtime. This is when I taught them about organizing, sorting, categorizing and the importance of cleaning up after yourself. I also taught my youngest about the colors and names of each item in the shop.

This turned out to be a super awesome setup and educational opportunity.

Have you ever thought of grocery shopping as a learning experience for children? Your grocery store is filled with great literacy and math learning opportunities including:

  • Counting

  • Addition/subtraction

  • Measuring

  • Learning the value of money

  • Sorting and categorizing

  • Letter recognition

I recreated this hands-on fun activity at home to give my girls the opportunity of role-playing and interactive learning while they explore and use their imagination collecting groceries. Bonus points, you can also teach them mathematics – they will pick up skills such as:

  • weighing objects

  • identifying differences and similarities in shapes and sizes

  • calculating costs

The grocery store is also a great opportunity to teach by example. Your child may have observed how you make one of their favorite meals at home, such as spaghetti. While grocery shopping, ask them what ingredients are needed to make their favorite spaghetti at home and let them pick it out. They will learn things about the grocery store such as:

  • that the store is organized into groups of similar things (i.e. produce, aisles, dairy)

  • that it takes several ingredients to make one thing (the whole is made up of many elements)

  • that the same product can have different costs (consumer literacy)

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