The benefits of playing shop with little learners

Pretend play makes up a very important part of a child’s development. It allows children to play different roles and test their reactions and responses to different situations, while in the safe world of learning and make-believe. Playing shop is great for this type of activity-based learning on many levels and it doesn’t need to break the bank either!

You can build a homemade one with some plywood (sanding down any sharp edges) and a lick of paint, or you can just use a bookcase or a coffee table, children love adapting things for play and more often than not that’s all part of the fun.

Your little learners will have as much fun setting up the shop as they do playing shop, and they will learn an awful lot too!

Reading & Writing

Children can have fun writing the main shop sign, and also one with opening times and one featuring today’s special offers. Collect things that can be ‘sold’ in the shop like empty mini cereal boxes, jam jars, ice-cream tubs etc. Anything small and easily recognisable will help them to identify the words when you point and ask, “How much are your cornflakes?” “Do you have an offer on strawberry jam?”

Numbers & Counting

If you have a little play-till for your shop, or even an old calculator, kids will love punching in numbers and calling out the prices of things. Tell them to price things with sticky notes or labels and they can practise writing numbers too. Slightly older children can begin to understand how price and value differ from item to item, while the younger ones will find it a scream charging ludicrous amounts!

The Concept of Money

Use play money if you can, and old glossy business cards or deactivated store cards. The act of giving coins, notes or a card in exchange for items that they ‘buy’ from the shop is a great way to introduce the concept of money and trade. To be aware that their money will run out if they buy too many things is also a valuable lesson for youngsters to learn.

Identification, Classification & Grouping

Of course, every shop needs to be in good order if your customers are going to be able to find things! Perhaps all the food should go on one shelf and toiletries on another. You can get some great plastic food items like fruits and vegetables that will help your child to play and identify, or sort, different items. You could even use some real fruit and veg and your child can ‘buy’ themselves a healthy snack!

At Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare we know the value of pretend play, and encourage the fun times and learning experiences that activity-based play can bring. So upcycle some household items and collect some baskets and paper shopping bags for your little learner’s very own shop.