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!