pretend play homemade GROCERY store

This post originally appeared May 16, 2011.

One of my favorite Mommy projects is the pretend play area.  Last week we had a fun cafe, the week before that a stage area complete with keyboard and tambourines.  I’ve been hesitant to post these set ups because they don’t photo well.  This week we are having fun with a grocery lesson plan, so of course I set up a grocery store.   I hope the pictures are good enough to inspire a shopping corner in your little area of the world.

I collected boxes and other containers. (In all honesty, I’m always collecting boxes.  This was just in time to clean out my overly clutter art cabinet!)

I set up our cash register
, leaving a little space on the table top for a conveyor belt.

pretend play

I had the hardest time finding play money.  I don’t know why, I’ll probably come across it at every store from here on out!  I found some old fake change (because I have bought play money in the past!) and I cut rectangle pieces of paper to represent dollars.  We will probably get more creative with it throughout the week.

I added coupons, old name tags, purses, wallets and reusable grocery bags.

I don’t have want a kid shopping cart.  They are big, and I don’t really care for one purpose BIG toys.  So instead I gathered up a few baskets and boxes for the kids to fill with items they wish to purchase.

Of course our store is pet friendly.

So, are the photos good enough?  If they work you’ll see a lot more posts like this one!

This post is a part of  the GROCERY lesson plan.

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  1. I think sometimes the ideas behind the photos is much more valuable than just a great photo. That said – the photos showcase your ideas brilliantly! I love the idea of a grocery store play area – I also don’t like the idea of purchasing big toy items that really can’t be used for other things. I do wish we had a cash register though – and some play money! What about just having the kids play with spare change? Bad idea?

    I say keep more of these posts coming! 🙂

    1. The cash register is one purchase that I am very glad I made. There are so many pretend play experiences that can use one. Stores, restaurant, airport counter, we even use it to check out books in our pretend library. Ours is broken because I bought a very inexpensive one. If I would have realized at the time how much use it would get I would have bought a more sturdy (and less pink) cash register.

      I think spare change is a great idea. . .as long as the little ones are past putting everything in their mouth. But that goes for play change as well!!!

  2. Hi 🙂 This used to be one of my fave play experiences, my mum was almost obsessive at saving and re using the packaging from various foods. She used to open everything upside down, tins, boxes, crisp packets so that they still looked real and unopened! I used to do this with my children too 🙂 They are in their 20’s now 🙂 Still do it with the groups i work with though x x x

    1. Oh no! I think you may have started something around here. Opening everything upside down?!?!? GENIUS! Thank you sharing the lovely memory.

  3. You’re photos are definitely inspiring! We have a tub full of plastic food and other grocery shop items that we don’t use much. What a simple but fantastic way to set up a shop. We’ll definitely be doing this. As for your cafe and stage area, it would be great to have seen them. As Jamie put so beautifully, it’s the idea behind the set up that is so much more valuable than the actual photo. Keep sharing, these are great ideas! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thank you! I have pictures of both, I’ll see if I can work them into posts in the next couple of weeks!

  4. My daughter loves pretending to grocery shop in our pantry! That said, she does have a shopping cart, but she loves it and I got a good deal on it…I do want to get her a cash register though. Maybe the Dollar Store has money, or Walmart? They seem to have everything! Great ideas, I say bring em on, even if they don’t photograph well. It is the inspiration that matters!

    1. Thank you! Can you believe the Dollar Store didn’t have any play money??? I did not try Walmart, good idea.

  5. We love pretend grocery store play…I love how you used a (tv stand?)! We usually set up on the coffee table, but have to clean it up right away which is ok since most of the boxes go right into the recycle bin! We don’t have play money with a 1, 2 & 6 year old, but we use pieces of paper so our oldest can practice writing (shhhh) out the receipts. We use tokens from other games checkers or sequence and give everything a simple token amount. As they get older, I will be investing in a cash register and play money…hmmmm, maybe on a garage sale hunt!!! Great ideas!!!

    1. GARAGE SALE!!! Yes, one of my favorite ways to acquire new goodies! The stand is actually a custom made night stand. But I often use cardboard boxes for tables, stoves, etc.

      Sometimes having to clean the section up and get it back out again adds to the fun! Thank you for the comment=)

  6. I love it! and the pictures are fine!! It’s really about the ideas … and having the children use their imaginations! I just put up a post yesterday about making toys for pretend play – my example was a kitchen, but I LOVE yours!! And, I couldn’t agree more about choosing your big items … you want things that can serve many purposes and be reengineered for different projects – Great Post!

  7. We love playing grocery store, especially on shopping days when the goodies are still in the bags.. My daughter plays with them and only then i get to put them into pantry (except the frozen ones off course)
    Would love to see more of such pretend play ideas…

    1. Ohhh, it’s too bad the frozen ones would melt. That would be a great sensory activity! I can’t believe I haven’t ever let my kids play with the groceries as they come out of the bag. They are going to be thrilled with this suggestion!

  8. Brilliant! I love how you used the old boxes and real food that your family eats! I bet if you play this often enough they can help find and identify “regular” food items when they are tots! Thanks for visiting QM and helping me discover your blog!

  9. Oh, I love this! I agree with the others, the photographic quality is not nearly as important as the message they convey – and this post conveys the message that you are creating fabulous invitations to play for your children!

    We have an ex-coffee table sitting in our living room that is mainly used as storage. I keep thinking I should be using it to create play invitations, but never do. You’ve inspired me! I’m going to set something up on it right now before I go to bed, and see what happens in the morning! (Actually, I know what will happen – we’ll be late for preschool! As usual!)

  10. My husband made a play kitchen for my kiddos this last Christmas. This will be a great way to get them to play with it more…and a great way to incorporate some math and literacy. Thank you for sharing your creativity!

  11. The grocery store is a fabulous idea. There is a website where you can print off money from different countries — but you can put a photo of your choosing in the middle of it. (site below) I have a friend that put her husband’s face on a dollar bill and called it “Daddy Bucks”. She used them for a rewards to cash in for “Daddy Time”. Or you could make money with each member of the family’s picture — for our family it would be “Kimbrell Cash”. This might be a fun addition to a grocery store and you could learn about currency from other countries if you have older kids.

  12. We love playing grocery store, especially on shopping days when the goodies are still in the bags.. They are going to be thrilled with this suggestion! . .as long as the little ones are past putting everything in their mouth. Ohhh, it’s too bad the frozen ones would melt.

  13. I think you may have started something around here. The cash register is one purchase that I am very glad I made.

  14. I always loved setting up a store in my classroom. Something to consider adding – a way to make a shopping list. I bought mini clipboards, cut paper to fit, and attached a pencil or crayon on a string. Kids loved writing their lists before shopping.

  15. I have small home based pre-school and the children all love to play grocery. They like the idea of money but some of them still put things in their mouths – so I use large poker chips instead of pretend money. They are big and round and the kids use them as pretend money. I also have some coloured counting chips from Oriental Trading – and they use the different colours to represent different money amounts. (The counting chips came in a pack of 600 – so I use them for many different games…)

  16. Pingback: dramatic play ideas

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