If you’ve been coveting the beautiful Bigjigs play shop but don’t have the funds, or the space to make it a reality, you can still make their dreams come true with a DIY play shop, and it’s easier than you might think.
With the addition of a few baskets or crates pretty much any bookcase or storage unit can become an amazing play shop and it doubles as handy storage for their play food and accessories as well.
Add a toy till, bought or made, and you’re ready to play.
The basic requirements for a play shop
All you really need for a pretend grocery store is a counter, some products to sell and somewhere to display them. A little bookcase is perfect for this as is a small open-fronted storage unit, or even a nice wooden toy chest with a few baskets or boxes to display the food. Stacking a few wooden apple crates together works well, and even cardboard boxes can be used although this obviously won’t be as sturdy or long-lasting.
Litte baskets, wooden crates or even shoe boxes are perfect for displaying play food and other items for sale. You can cover cardboard boxes in wrapping paper or paint them to make them feel special, and even add a little chalkboard on the front so kids can write prices, special offers or name the items on sale.
A surface you can use as a counter is ideal for having a till or weighing scales etc but this can be one of the shelves or a little table set up for the occasion.
The finishing touches
Once you have your base it’s time to add the finishing touches. Painting a bookcase will instantly transform it, and if you are feeling in the DIY mood making a canopy from some striped fabric and lengths of wood will really finish it off.
If you don’t have lots of play food you can make this as well. Empty cereal boxes and other food packets, especially the little mini ones are perfect for a play kitchen, and you can print new labels to stick on empty spice jars to stock the shelves will all your little one’s favourites.
Saving a few crisp packets, stuffing them with scrunched up paper and glueing them closed works a treat, as does rinsing out little juice cartons.
If you are feeling crafty felt can be used to make everything from pasta to bananas, and you can even make canned food from old toilet roll inners. Sponges can be made into great play cakes, just ask you tube, and those little craft pom poms make amazing berries.
Ice cream cones can be made of a piece of brown paper and a bit of sticky tape or glue and scrunched up tissue paper makes great ice cream in any flavour you fancy.
And of course your store doesn’t have to be a grocery store. Children can collect all sorts of things from around the house to sell. They could open a toy store, a book store or a clothes store. Just make sure they know they need to help put it all away at the end of the game.
If this all seems like a lot of effort read more about why play is important for children’s development here for a bit of added inspiration.