Let’s Play Shopping!

Are you looking for a different idea of something the kids can play that you would have all the necessary parts already at your house? This is it! Our kids loved to pretend they were shopping at the store! We would set up items that they could “buy” on the kitchen table or on the couch and living room chairs. Each one took a turn being the shopper, the cashier and the person who puts the purchased items into bags (the bagger). There are lots of ways you could play this that will fit into your current situation. One way to do it is to save empty boxes and containers. For instance, empty cereal boxes, mac and cheese boxes, oatmeal canisters, jello and pudding mix boxes, dish soap bottles, spice containers and on and on! Just tape the boxes closed again and wash and dry containers. Glue lids closed if you want to. But that can take time to build up a supply big enough to make a “store” so another way is to set up the store with items they can safely play with…like boxes of unopened cereal, pastas, packs of paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, etc. Or if you really don’t want them playing with the real items, make a toy store. Yep, they bring out their toys, games, books, etc and set them up in store fashion. Here’s the way I set up a store for this example: I gathered some empty items for a while but also used some things that were brand new. Gather your items together in one place such as the kitchen table. I recommend NOT using canned goods as they can really hurt when dropped on a foot!

Now sort them into similar items. This would be a great time to let the kids help because they can learn about what things go together and help with matching them up. They can be a stock person who stocks the shelves of the store so there are items ready for the shoppers to buy. You can have as many categories as you like. Here is a Dairy group…(all of these containers have been emptied, washed and dried!)

Next we have a dry goods section.

Then spices and things used for baking…

Jello and pudding is a good choice! Nice small boxes that fit into little hands.

How about a place for drinks? Don’t want your bag of coffee endangered? Save an empty bag, fill it with newspaper and glue it closed.

Paper products are usually pretty harmless.

Cleaning supplies…again, all are empty, washed and dried.




I had a place for empty “medicines” and vitamin bottles but you may or may not want your kids playing with “pill bottles”. Might depend on the age of the children playing whether they can understand the difference of playing with empty bottles verses the real ones.

Adding in some kids’ games and toys will likely be a hit. Or as I mentioned already, you can make the entire toy store from their toys.

Books are a great idea! Maybe you could even have a Barnes & Noble store! πŸ˜‰ And maybe have a cafe that sells cookies!

If you have a kids’ sized grocery cart, that’s great! We don’t, so give the “shopper” a reusable bag or a paper bag to use to select their items and carry them around in until they are ready to “check out”. And of course, you’ll need bags for the “bagger” to put their purchased items in after they have paid.

So there must be a way to pay for your purchases. We have some play money we can use and a cash box we use for garage sales and craft shows. But if you don’t have any play money on hand, take a piece of paper, cut it in rectangles and write the dollar amount on them. For example, write $1 in each corner or $5, $10, etc. If you’re feeling creative, draw a person in the center like on real money. Maybe a few pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are in your purse or spare change cup that the kids could play with. You can use this as a time to teach about the worth of money or just let them be kids and play it their own way. πŸ˜‰ A calculator to use at the checkout would be fun too.

I set this all up in our dining room using the table for the items to be purchased, a TV tray for the checkout counter and a dining room chair to hold the bags. There was room on all sides of the table so the kids could walk all around it while shopping. You can set it up however works in your home with your things.

Mommies or Daddies can bring their babies (dolls) with them while they are shopping or perhaps Grandma or Grandpa can babysit. πŸ˜‰ Maybe a special hat or purse is in order for a shopping trip. Or a certain chair can be their car and on the floor underneath can be the trunk of the car where they put their groceries to take them home. Our kids spent hours playing this game and I hope that whatever version you choose to play with your kids will be a big hit! πŸ™‚

2 thoughts on “Let’s Play Shopping!

  1. This is fantastic! I love it. It not only doesn’t cost anything but a bit of time to set up, it’s really educational as well! It teaches maths and budgeting skills. It’s great. My son used to love playing grocery store and shop games when he was little as well as cooking an kitchen games. It is such a great was for young mind to explore. We often used imaginary items or perhaps twigs and leaves to represent objects and money if we were playing at the park. We sometimes used empty containers like you have demonstrated. I love the idea of using pretend money (or even letting the kids use some real coins), as I think that really brings in an educational element. This kind of game is far superior to plastic rubbish toys kids wont even be interested in for more than 5 minutes!


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