Play And Learn Through Imagination: Grocery Store

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Play and Learn Through Imagination: Grocery Store. Imaginative or dramatic play idea for toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary.

My girls (age 3 & 5) are masters of pretend play.  They spend hours making up scenarios, finding appropriate costumes and props, and generally letting their minds run wild.  I think it's a fantastic way for them to play, and normally I simply leave them to it.  Occasionally, though, it's fun to help things along with a more elaborate set-up than what they might create on their own.  One of our favorite ways play pretend is with a quick and easy grocery store.  The last time we played grocery store I couldn't help but notice all the fun ways that my girls were also learning while they played!

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Grocery Store Pretend or Dramatic Play

Before we set up our store, I wrote some simple categories on our activity table.  Using copy paper to make simple signs would work just as well. 

Grocery Store Pretend or Dramatic Play

Next the girls helped me to set up the groceries.  We have a bit of play food from different sets, but mostly we just use empty, cleaned-out boxes and containers from real food. 

Grocery Store Pretend or Dramatic Play

We set up a separate table for fruits and veggies.  We love our sliceable & veggie set-- it gets used in some way almost every day!

Grocery Store Pretend or Dramatic Play

Of course you need a cash register of some kind.  We have a play version, but a large calculator would work just as well.  For money, you can use pretend money or scraps of paper and poker chips.  It doesn't have to be complicated!  Throw in a bag for  your groceries and you're almost ready.

Grocery Store Pretend or Dramatic Play

Set up a basket or grocery cart (we call them buggies in our part of the world) and perhaps some purses and start shopping!

Grocery Store Pretend or Dramatic Play

One thing that is important to realize is that your kids may not know how to play pretend.  Often if I set up a scenario for the girls or suggest that we play some new kind of pretend, they just don't know what to do.  You may have to model it a few times before they really know how to carry on by themselves.  

  Grocery Store Pretend or Dramatic Play

So I grabbed a basket, wandered through the store, talking aloud as I made my selections, and then headed to check out.  I showed Lena how to scan the groceries and drop them in the bag as I set them on the bench.  Then I showed her how she would tell me how much they cost and I would pay her.  After a few examples from me the girls were ready to play on their own!

Grocery Store Pretend or Dramatic Play

Pretend play has value in its own right.  But as the girls and I played I couldn't help but notice all the ways that they were learning, too.  We sorted the food into categories.  Maggie only wanted to buy fruit but no vegetables, so we worked together to decide which was which.  Lena read the boxes.  As the girls checked out, Maggie practiced basic counting with coins, while Lena handed over 3 $10 bills to make $30, working on counting-by-10s.  At one point Maggie said she was shopping to make dinner, so we talked about how to get some of every food group to make a balanced meal.

Grocery Store Pretend or Dramatic Play

A pretend grocery store doesn't have to be expensive.  You don't have to have a dedicated area or do much prep work.  But it can be a great way for your little ones to spend a few hours!

Grocery Store Pretend or Dramatic Play

This post is part of an A-Z of Pretend Play series hosted by Crafty Kids At Home.  Click over to see 26 fantastic pretend play ideas!


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Cutting Tiny Bites: Play And Learn Through Imagination: Grocery Store
Play And Learn Through Imagination: Grocery Store
Play and Learn Through Imagination: Grocery Store. Imaginative or dramatic play idea for toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary.
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