Playing pretend grocery store

I love pretend play! I get to be a child again and get a glimpse of my daughters incredible imagination. I didn't have any pretend money so I made some on my own. 


Age recommendation: Toddler, preschool. 

Materials: We used our Learning Resources fruits and vegetables, Little Tikes Cash Register, white paper, star stickers from the dollar store, and other play food items (tea set). 

How to play

  • We cut out small pieces of paper (equal sizes) for our pretend money. 
  • I wrote numbers 1-5 and on each paper added some star stickers to match the numbers. I made them with my daughter and I had her add the stickers to the small papers.
  • I added a "price" to our play items with star stickers.  
  • We then placed random play food items and tea set items around the playroom. 
  • I first played the cashier and asked my daughter to go "grocery shopping". She had a small basket and filled it up with items. 
  • Since she basically collected everything we laid out, I divided the items into "small bills" since we were practicing counting between 5-10. For instance, I combined the small blue plate and the red tea cup so her bill added up to $6. I asked her for 6 dollars and together we figured out which one of her little paper money as equal to $6. Stick to what you are introducing to your child or what you would like to teach them. Do not overwhelming them. This is meant to be fun. If they are not getting them right it is ok. Keep playing the game with them regularly and it will come. You want to make sure that they enjoy themselves and stay motivated, strong and confident. 

Learning and Development: Around age 2, the CDC states that a child should play simple believe games. Pretend play allows for lots of learning such as:

  • Language development: You can remove the number aspect of this activity and simply play grocery shopping. Place a few items and first go around the room with your baby or toddler and name each object you see. Then you can walk around with them and ask them to find "the banana". 
  • Numbers: This is a fun way to introduce number recognition, counting and math. 
  • Memory: You can create a small game called "Grocery list". Tell your child they have to go "buy the food you need for dinner" and give them the list verbally. For instance, "chicken, plum, banana" (depends on which pretend food items you have!). Then have them go out to your pretend grocery store and see how many items they can remember. Start with 2-3 and make your way up! 

Taping objects to a platter

This was an activity I was able to do with both my baby and toddler. I asked my toddler to tape various objects that I gave her and asked my baby to remove the tape to get the object back. 


Age recommendation: Baby or toddler. Simply change the goal you set out depending on their age

Materials: Tape (I used electrical tape), small objects such as toy cars/trucks, popsicle sticks, crayons and objects from the kitchen. You don't want the objects to be too think or wide. 

How to play:

  • First you need to pre-cut your pieces of tape if your child is too young to do this.
  • Prepare small objects and let your child decide which they would like to tape to the tray.
  • Ask your child to tape the objects themselves, or again, if they are too young you can do this step as well. Always try it out with them first, see if you can teach them how to tape the objects as well if they never tried it before. 
  • If you have a small baby or young child that is learning how to speak, use action words such as "pull" and demonstrate how to pull the tape off. 

Learning and Development: The CDC 18 month milestones states that a child should point to something they want. This is why in this activity, we lay out all the objects and ask them which one they want to tape. Once they are all taped, you can continue building their language by asking them which one they will remove. Point to one and ask "Do you want this one?" then nod or shake you head while saying "yes" or "no". At around 18 months, a child should say and shake their head for "no". This activity also helps build their attention skills. Let them play with this activity to see how long they stay focused. Don't worry if it is only a few minutes, don't forget they are still young and building these skills!