Benefits of Pretend Play Shop



A group of children engaged in vibrant pretend play in a spacious playroom, with one dressed as a chef in a toy kitchen, another as a superhero in a cape, and a third as a princess in a sparkly dress, surrounded by colorful toys and props.

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Children love to play pretend and while they have the most incredible imaginations many of their games involve mimicking the things they see in everyday life. Whether it’s being a vet, a chef, a mechanic or a shop keeper kids love to pretend to be just like the adults they see around them, or of course, the superhero’s they see on TV.

Benefits of Pretend Play Shop

Engaging in pretend play shop (or store) scenarios can provide numerous developmental benefits for children. It allows them to explore real-world concepts in a fun, imaginative, and safe environment.

Benefit CategoryDescription
Cognitive DevelopmentProblem-Solving: Kids learn to solve problems, such as making change or deciding what they can “afford” to buy.
Math Skills: Practice with counting, addition, subtraction, and understanding the concept of money.
Social SkillsCommunication: Enhances verbal communication skills as kids engage in transactions and negotiations.
Teamwork and Cooperation: Learning to work together, whether they are running the shop or shopping.
Language DevelopmentVocabulary: Expands vocabulary as children learn the names of different items, money terms, and shopping phrases.
Conversational Skills: Engaging in various dialogues enhances conversational skills.
Emotional DevelopmentRole-Playing: Helps in understanding different perspectives and emotions through role-playing.
Self-Confidence: Builds self-confidence as they successfully manage the shop or make purchases.
Motor SkillsFine Motor Skills: Handling play money, small products, and operating a pretend cash register can develop fine motor skills.
Understanding the WorldReal-World Understanding: Provides a basic understanding of commerce, shopping, and the value of money.
Role of Occupations: Understanding the roles of shoppers, cashiers, and managers.
Creativity and ImaginationCreative Expression: Encourages imaginative expression as children create shop scenarios, price items, and decide on shop rules.
Ethical UnderstandingFairness and Honesty: Discussions about fair pricing, sharing, and honesty can arise naturally in play.
Educational ValueEarly Financial Literacy: Introduces basic concepts of financial literacy in a playful and age-appropriate manner.

Pretend play shop scenarios can be enriched by introducing various themes or integrating educational objectives. It’s a versatile and engaging way to promote learning and development across a range of areas, making it a valuable activity for both home and educational settings.

When children play pretend they are not just having fun but they are practising their decision-making and social skills, experimenting with how to behave and making sense of the world around them.

Providing toys and props that spark the imagination and facilitate imaginative play is one of the best things you can do for your child and a wooden play shop can be used in so many ways that it makes a fantastic gift.

We all remember being children and playing make-believe, whether we were serving tea to our dolls or pretending to be power rangers it doesn’t really matter. And no doubt we all had our favourite toys we would use as props in our games, a tea set, a a children’s till, a blackboard, or a wooden sword.

Pretend play is a vital part of childhood as it gives children so many opportunities for learning and self-expression that give them the skills they need to excel in so many areas of life.

Playing shop is a great role play game that you can easily set up for your children to encourage them to explore the world of imaginary play. A shop is a familiar concept for most children and the perfect place for them to take on different roles.

The benefits of playing shop are numerous, including:

  • Physical Development.
  • Social and Emotional Development.
  • Cognitive Development.
  • Developing Language and Communication.
  • Introducing the Concept of Money.

Language and Writing Skills

Engaging in imaginative play gives children the opportunity to practise words and phrases they have heard but might not otherwise have reason to use. It can be amazing listening to the things children come out with when they play, and the wonderful impressions they will do of you or the local shop keeper.

Playing shop is also a great way to develop vocabulary, they can learn the names of fruits, vegetables, condiments and any other items they have for sale. And your shop doesn’t just have to be a grocery store, it could be a hardware store, a cafe, a toy shop or anything else. Older children will also start to read words and can practice their writing skills by making signs and menus.

Playing pretend also helps children discover the power of language, the affect the words we say have on others, and the importance of choosing the correct words if we want to make ourselves understood.

Cognitive Skills

The brain needs exercise to grow and develop and there is no better way for children to do this than through play.

Playing shop allows them to develop narrative thought as they act out a story. They will also need to solve problems along the way, for example, what to use if they don’t have a shopping basket. This development of cognitive flexibility allows children to be more creative, a vital skill they will need throughout their lives.

Social Skills

Shop play is perfect for developing social skills and a wooden play shop is the ideal toy for a play date. Playing together requires negotiation, cooperation and understanding as children assign roles and combine their desires for how the game should be played.

If they both want to be the shop keeper they will need to learn to take turns, and in order to have fun together they will have to share.

Pretending to be someone else helps children understand that different a person and be thinking and feeling different things. They develop empathy for others literally by pretending to be them and experimenting with emotions in a safe way.

Numbers, counting and the concept of money

Playing shops is one of the best games for including numbers, counting and the concept of money.

Even the youngest children will love punching numbers into a till or calculator, and as they get older these numbers start to mean something. Kids can have fun pricing items, adding up, and giving change, all vital skills they will need.

Learning about the concept of money, that we have to exchange money for goods and that your money will run out if you buy too much is also a valuable life lesson that can be taught through play.

How to play shop with your children

Children learn so much when they play. Having a wooden play shop can spark hours of imaginative play while teaching social skills, language, literacy, numeracy and problem-solving.

Children love to role play and playing shop is often a favourite as it’s something they experience often in their everyday lives. It is also a game that can be enjoyed and developed for many years meaning you get a lot of value from your initial investment.

Young children will love filling a toy shopping basket and taking money in their toy cash register, while older children can practise maths and writing skills as they decide prices, write signs and menu’s, work out change and develop an understanding of the concept of money.

Setting up a play shop at home

You can buy some amazing play shops if you have space and funds, but you can also make a store out of things you have, with or without a few great accessories to enhance the experience.

And children often get just as much value and enjoyment out of setting up their shop as they do playing the game.

First of all, decide where your shop is going to be and what you will use. If you have a play shop that’s perfect, but a bookcase and a coffee table or a play kitchen and a toy box can be just as effective.

Now decide what your store is going to sell. It might be a grocery store making use of play food and empty packets, a cafe selling ice creams and bbq food, a toy shop, or a general store. Children often have far better imaginations than we do so let them take the lead and add a few suggestions if they get stuck.

Wooden blocks, for example, can be anything from apples and tomatoes to sweets or seeds for the garden. And their stuffed animals might be extra customers or pets for sale.

Every shop should have a till and some pretend money. Buying a toy till can be a great way to spark shop play games, especially if you don’t have space for a full wooden play shop or market stall. Or you can pinch they play money from a monopoly game, make your own or use coins from their piggy bank and an old store card. Pricing items is a great way to practise writing numbers and older children can add up the amounts, working out the total and how much change they need to give.

Once you have your store, your items for sale and your money you are ready to play. Children will love playing together but most will want you to join in as well. Take it in turns to be the shop keeper and the customers and let children lead the narrative and come up with ways to solve any problems they encounter.

Closing up the shop at the end of the game and putting everything away is also a great learning experience for children and a valuable life skill.

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