Pretend Play Toy Store

activities for kids Pretend play is such an important part of preschool learning and while we do our fair share of just crawling around like cats and putting on bad English accents and pretending to be Harry Potter and friends we also love pretend play set ups like this one.  Setting the scene can boost endless play possibilities especially with kids that aren’t self starters for pretend play. Don’t tell them how to play, just set the scene and play along or let them fly solo.  Store play is great for incorporating learning about money, talking about manners, reading and even sorting things. Don’t worry about fitting in a lesson though – play is the lesson, let it happen.

  1. Gather your materials. The best part of this activity is that you use what you have and one thing most families have a lot of are toys. My son loves to keep his toy packages and I finally found a good use for them! You may also want to grab some paper, markers, and painter’s tape.  For some store props try a name badge, phone and cash register. If you don’t have a play cash register ( we don’t ) I find an old lap top works perfectly.notimeforflashcards
  2. Start by making signs for the sections of the store. This is the bulk of the prep for this scenario. This is great for reading especially for emergent readers who with the aid of the context can successfully read many of the signs.  A Price chart offers the chance to read numbers as well. notimeforflashcards
  3. Next organize the room or part of the room as a store with some simple displays. I loved doing this and as you will see my son shares that love. notimeforflashcards
  4. As soon as I was done arranging it was time to pick up my son from school and play. I usually set these up as surprises … he loved it . notimeforflashcards
  5. My daughter claimed the cashier job
  6. My son read the prices.
  7. My son immediately ran to his room to get more Lego to step up.
  8. My daughter helped me find a baby doll. Then refused to sell it to me. She’s still learning the concept that customers are always right.
  9. As everyone knows when you work in a toy store the best part is you can test the merchandise – which is what we did the rest of the afternoon after nap and a new pair of PJs.

I really encourage you to pretend with your kids whether it’s a big event pretend play like this or the random and magical ones when they walk up to you and announce that they are no longer your child they are in fact a wizard… oh and you are too. It’s so important for them to imagine , to practice life skills and try on different roles in a safe place . So imagine with them and play.



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  1. says

    Our two and a half year-old started pretend shop keeping just recently. Very funny though, he wants to keep everything for himself so tells us we wouldn’t like things. “That’s yuk for you, I’ll have it”. It’s great fun though watching him make up things for us to buy. He sells a LOT of coffee which is telling of Dads bad habits.

    • admin says

      I love ” That’s yuk for you.” and yes my son played drive up espresso stand more than anything at that age and could say ” Grande Vanilla Latte” at a shockingly young age .

  2. Stacey says

    I love this post! We are just now setting up a versatile space for imaginative play in our daycare…the kids love playing house and restaurant and store and..gas station! (they came up with that one out of the blue. Very cool!)

    Interestingly enough, I’ve found that the person who the space has helped the most has been me! I’m naturally very shy and not given to pretend play, and the props we have really allow me to let loose and play with the kids!

    Two more things…that big white bookshelf with the square cubbies is exactly what I’m looking for! Can you tell me where it’s from? And the big kraft paper thingy hung in the wall with blue tape looks really interesting! Was it another project? It’s given me some cool ideas to do with my preschoolers, anyway!


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