Pretend Play: Grocery Store


Our Store

This is my first attempt at creating a pretend play environment for my kids in our home.  As I have said in a prior post here, I need to keep things cheap.  This entire grocery store cost me about $30, although we had a coupon and gift certificate for the shopping cart.  I primarily used recycled and reused materials.  I started collected materials long before I put the store together.

My kids love, love, love this store and play with it practically everyday!  There are also soo many educational qualities to it.  I have a previous post on the benefits of pretend play here.  With the grocery store there is the use of imagination and role-playing, the introduction of money and addition and subtraction, healthy food choices, and life skills such as taking turns.  Also, it is a great way for kids to learn environmental text.  They can “read” the different labels that they are familiar with, such as Cheerios.


My daughter shopping. I would love to say that I cleaned up for the picture, but I thought it was better to show what it usually looks like. I am sure that I can figure out a way to keep the items upright on the shelf at some point.

Here are the materials that I used:

  • One of those cheap-o shelf units that we had and weren’t using.  Here is one that is simialar to what I have, new it is $20.
    • This is great because I could break it apart and the top shelf doubled as the check out counter
    • Also I could throw the materials on the shelves when I wanted things to be clean-ish
    • I did start organizing things in sections, but I took too much time to clean it up.
  • A cash register-I found mine at a moms-to-moms sale for $3-SCORE!  There are a ton out there with such features as a credit card slider, a scanner, and more.  Here is one that I have been eyeing from Learning Resources.  I would be all for this one, except I don’t feel like paying for it yet and I would love to have one with a speaker on it.

grocery register

  • A chair for the cashier-I found our Big Bird chair at a garage sale for $2
  • A shopping cart, we bought this one here.
  • I bought a pack of money from the dollar store that didn’t quite work out.  The bills were really thin and they easily ripped.  Also, my son kept trying to eat the change.
  • Everything else that we used is being reused/recycled
    • I started collecting and cleaning used food containers –I used cereal boxes, egg cartons, yogurt boxes, snack boxes, cottage cheese containers, etc. For this I used packaging materials to stuff in the materials to make them seem full.  I also covered the openings with clear packaging tape that I had on hand.
    • I had a big white sign left over from a poster that I made for our Halloween card.  We painted it the other side with the name of the store.  I told my daughter that she could name it anything that she wanted, ANYTHING. Of course, she wanted to name it after the store we most frequent.
    • We collected old grocery bags and receipts for checking out
    • I keep a moving box around to put extra food and bags in for an easy clean-up
    • You can also make your own coupons, or use some that you have around the house like we did
A close up of the cashier area

A close up of the cashier area

What I would like to add in the future:

  • If I think that it will be worth it, I will get better money and a better cash register with more features, I may wait until a birthday for this one
  • I want to figure out a way to make or buy more realistic fruits and vegetables.  Right now, I have some clear containers with paper in them and very small fruits from our play kitchen-not too real looking.  Also, I had plastic bags that you use at the grocery store for the fruits, but my husband didn’t like the idea of having plastic bags in the play area

I highly, highly recommend creating a grocery store with your kid!  It is a fun and education learning environment and so, so easy to create! Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Pretend Play: Grocery Store

  1. This is a very cute Idea!

    my mother did this for us…..we had a school room… desks, board, and old worksheets…and we played “teacher”

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