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.
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.
- 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
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!