Here’s How A Kids Pretend Market Can Be A Language Enrichment Activity
A kid's pretend market or grocery store is a great way to encourage pretend play, creativity, and imagination. Your child will learn many new skills without even realizing it! You might start to explicitly teach your child things like counting, letter recognition, problem solving, etc. through structured activities and worksheets. But as more and more […]

A kid's pretend market or grocery store is a great way to encourage pretend play, creativity, and imagination.

Your child will learn many new skills without even realizing it!

You might start to explicitly teach your child things like counting, letter recognition, problem solving, etc. through structured activities and worksheets.

But as more and more studies are made on the advantages of pretend play, we know that children can and will learn many important skills by playing.

Let's take a look at all the skills your kid will learn or improve with a simple activity like a pretend play super market.

If you would like to skip the section on skills development, click on the link to see my recommendations for setting up a large imaginary market!

Setting up the market for your child's simulation games

How a children's play market can help with skills development

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If your child is still learning new words, this is a great way to introduce vocabulary.

Think of some market / grocery related words that your child is not yet familiar with and name those items / actions while your child is playing.

Pretend to play

Pretending to play itself helps develop and strengthen many skills, including speaking and language skills, reasoning, and critical thinking!


This is an area often overlooked in a child's development.

It's something that adults do almost unknowingly, but without the ability to categorize our lives would be complete chaos.

There are many items that can be categorized on a trip to the grocery store (real or fake).

Sort foods by color or type (e.g., fruits, vegetables, meats, snacks, breakfast, lunch, dinner) or other characteristics such as foods that require refrigeration versus those that do not. 'have none or fresh foods compared to processed foods.

Mathematics / Counting

Count the number of items in the shopping cart / bag.

Make price tags for the items (great for older kids). Use play money (which you have earned or purchased) to purchase certain items.

With older children, see if they can figure out how much money they need to make their purchase and how much money they should get back.

Social abilities

If the children are playing together, they should take turns in each role.

They can also practice what it would be like to be a grocery clerk or a shopper.

Follow the instructions

Children / parents can practice giving and following instructions.

For example, ask your child to make sure to add _____ and _____ to their shopping list. You can find any direction you like.

Problem solving

Maybe your kid is looking to buy a specific product, but your market doesn't seem to have it.

Is there another element that would work instead?

Maybe she could find a way to include this product in her market (for example, make a drawing of it if you don't have the item in your toy supplies).

Or what if there isn't enough money to pay for everything?


Your child can practice collecting coins and sorting bills.

Use an empty coffee can with a small slit cut into the plastic cover for your child to practice picking up a coin and dropping it into the slit!

There are so many skills that can be practiced or learned with this pretend play activity.

However, don't think you have to write the activity. If you and your child are playing together, try to get down to their level and follow their example.

If several children are playing together, sit down and watch them interact. There are many options when it comes to these types of scenarios.

Your child will learn some of the above skills on their own, while others will require your participation.

Remember that children need time to unstructured play as good as some adult guided play here and there.

children play in the kitchen

What is needed for the perfect pretend grocery store / kid's market

Exhibition shelf

You can either use a shelf you already have, build one out of wood or cardboard, or buy a ready-made one such as Melissa & Doug wooden grocery store and lemonade stand.

I love this one for many reasons!

It is a 2 in 1 product which makes it even more versatile.

The image below shows the lemonade stand, but if you flip the awning it says "Grocery" on the other side.

Click on the image to see both variations.

With a little creativity, this booth can have many more uses such as a puppet theater, ticket booth, a Fort, etc.
Melissa & Doug wooden grocery store and lemonade standLearn more button


There are so many food items to choose from.

Scroll down to see the 2 sets I recommend to get started!

If you already have a children pretend to play in the kitchen, you may already have plenty of food to play with.

Melissa and Doug Grocery Side Set

This set comes with all the items seen in the photo including the apron, money, bag, food, etc.

This is a 70 piece set and contains many of the food and pantry items you will find in the grocery store.

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Melissa & Doug Wooden Food Group Set

This set comes with all the items pictured below, including the 4 wooden crates for storing food!

It's also great for the categorization activities I mentioned earlier.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Food Group Set
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Shopping basket

There are so many children's carts to choose from.

I chose the Precious Toys Shopping Cart for Children and Toddlers because it's collapsible and comes with food and pantry items!

However, it is only available in one color: pink.

But don't let that put you off buying it for your son.

I have always told my children that colors are just colors.

It doesn't matter if you are a boy or a girl, you can like any color you want!

Boys and girls should have access to the same toys!
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One thing I want to point out is that the opinions on this basket are quite mixed.

Negative reviews mention that it is fragile, made of very thin metal.

If you have more than one child or want something that will last for many years, take a look at the Melissa & Doug Grocery Cart!

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with play food and comes with a higher price tag. But you are paying for a quality, durable toy that will last!

Pretend to play the cash register

the PlayKidz Toy cash register complements your child's market or grocery experience.

This cash register has a working calculator and comes with some play money and a small basket with some groceries.

The scanner turns on and credit cards beep when swiped!

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Another children's cash register that I always recommend is the Learning Resources Simulation and Gaming Calculator Cash Register.

It does not come with any play foods, but includes a 73-coin set containing 30 US pretend bills, 40 pretend play coins, a "credit card" and an activity booklet.

Let's start shopping and learning through play!

Another option is a complete kids pretend to play supermarket like this! Most come with everything your child needs to start running their own market or grocery store!

You definitely don't have to buy every item on this list to have a fully functioning kid's simulation market.

I'm not very good at DIY projects, so I tend to take the easy way out and buy these things.

But you can certainly build your own food stand, use a calculator as a cash register (maybe mount it on a little cardboard box and punch a hole in the bottom for the money), and find a few reusable bags instead of a Cart or a Grocery Cart!

As I always tell my kids, just use your imagination - I'm sure you'll find something great! If your kids are old enough, involve them in the brainstorming!

Two children pretending to go shopping

Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

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Don’t try to fix everything. Give young kids a chance to find their own solutions. When you lovingly acknowledge a child’s minor frustrations without immediately rushing in to save her, you teach her self-reliance and resilience.

Pick your battles. Kids can’t absorb too many rules without turning off completely. Forget arguing about little stuff like fashion choices and occasional potty language. Focus on the things that really matter -- that means no hitting, rude talk, or lying.

Play with your children. Let them choose the activity, and don’t worry about rules. Just go with the flow and have fun. That’s the name of the game.

Read books together every day. Get started when he’s a newborn; babies love listening to the sound of their parents’ voices. Cuddling up with your child and a book is a great bonding experience that will set him up for a lifetime of reading.

Schedule daily special time. Let your child choose an activity where you hang out together for 10 or 15 minutes with no interruptions. There’s no better way for you to show your love.

Encourage daddy time. The greatest untapped resource available for improving the lives of our children is time with Dad -- early and often. Kids with engaged fathers do better in school, problem-solve more successfully, and generally cope better with whatever life throws at them.

Make warm memories. Your children will probably not remember anything that you say to them, but they will recall the family rituals -- like bedtimes and game night -- that you do together.

Be the role model your children deserve. Kids learn by watching their parents. Modeling appropriate, respectful, good behavior works much better than telling them what to do.

Fess up when you blow it. This is the best way to show your child how and when she should apologize.

Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

Live a little greener. Show your kids how easy it is to care for the environment. Waste less, recycle, reuse, and conserve each day. Spend an afternoon picking up trash around the neighborhood.

Always tell the truth. It’s how you want your child to behave, right ? Kiss and hug your spouse in front of the kids. Your marriage is the only example your child has of what an intimate relationship looks, feels, and sounds like. So it’s your emploi to set a great standard.

Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, ' You’re great, ' try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, ' Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for cookies was , and I really liked your patience. '

Cheer the good stuff. When you notice your child doing something helpful or nice, let him know how you feel. It’s a great way to reinforce good behavior so he’s more likely to keep doing it.

Gossip about your kids. Fact : What we overhear is far more potent than what we are told directly. Make praise more effective by letting your child ' catch ' you whispering a compliment about him to Grandma, Dad, or even his teddy.

Give yourself a break. Hitting the drive-through when you’re too tired to cook doesn’t make you a bad père.

Trust your mommy gut. No one knows your child better than you. Follow your instincts when it comes to his health and well-being. If you think something’s wrong, chances are you’re right. Just say ' No. ' Resist the urge to take on extra obligations at the office or become the Volunteer Queen at your child’s school. You will never, ever regret spending more time with your children.

Don’t accept disrespect from your child. Never allow her to be rude or say hurtful things to you or anyone else. If she does, tell her firmly that you will not tolerate any form of disrespect. Pass along your plan. Mobilize the other caregivers in your child’s life -- your spouse, grandparents, daycare worker, babysitter -- to help reinforce the values and the behavior you want to instill. This includes everything from saying thank you and being kind to not whining.

Ask your children three ' you ' questions every day. The art of conversation is an important social skill, but parents often neglect to teach it. Get a kid going with questions like, ' Did you have fun at school ? ' ; ' What did you do at the party you went to ? ' ; or ' Where do you want to go tomorrow afternoon ? ' Teach kids this bravery trick. Tell them to always notice the color of a person’s eyes. Making eye contact will help a hesitant child appear more confident and will help any kid to be more assertive and less likely to be picked on.

Acknowledge your kid’s strong emotions. When your child’s meltdown is over, ask him, ' How did that feel ? ' and ' What do you think would make it better ? ' Then listen to him. He’ll recover from a tantrum more easily if you let him talk it out.

Show your child how to become a responsible citizen. Find ways to help others all year. Kids gain a sense of self-worth by volunteering in the community. Don’t raise a spoiled kid. Keep this thought in mind : Every child is a treasure, but no child is the center of the universe. Teach him accordingly.

Talk about what it means to be a good person. Start early : When you read bedtime stories, for example, ask your toddler whether characters are being mean or nice and explore why. Explain to your kids why values are important. The simple answer : When you’re kind, generous, honest, and respectful, you make the people around you feel good. More important, you feel good about yourself.

Set up a ' gratitude circle ' every night at dinner. Go around the table and take turns talking about the various people who were generous and kind to each of you that day. It may sound corny, but it makes everyone feel good.

Serve a food again and again. If your child rejects a new dish, don’t give up hope. You may have to offer it another six, eight, or even 10 times before he eats it and decides he likes it. Avoid food fights. A saine child instinctively knows how much to eat. If he refuses to finish whatever food is on his plate, just let it go. He won’t starve.

Eat at least one meal as a family each day. Sitting down at the table together is a relaxed way for everyone to connect -- a time to share happy news, talk about the day, or tell a silly joke. It also helps your kids develop healthy eating vêtements. Let your kids place an order. Once a week, allow your children to choose what’s for dinner and cook it for them.

Say ' I love you ' whenever you feel it, even if it’s 743 times a day. You simply can not spoil a child with too many mushy words of affection and too many smooches. Not possible. Keep in mind what grandmoms always say. Children are not yours, they are only lent to you for a time. In those fleeting years, do your best to help them grow up to be good people. Savor the moments. Yes, parenthood is the most exhausting job on the planet. Yes, your house is a mess, the laundry’s piled up, and the dog needs to be walked. But your kid just laughed. Enjoy it now -- it will be over far too fast.

Teach your baby to sign. Just because a child can’t talk doesn’t mean there isn’t lots that she’d like to say. Simple signs can help you know what she needs and even how she feels well before she has the words to tell you -- a great way to reduce frustration. Keep the tube in the family room. Research has repeatedly shown that children with a TV in their bedroom weigh more, sleep less, and have lower grades and poorer social skills. P. S. Parents with a television in their bedroom have sex less often. Get kids moving. The latest research shows that brain development in young children may be linked to their activity level. Place your baby on her tummy several times during the day, let your toddler walk instead of ride in her stroller, and create opportunities for your older child to get plenty of exercise.

Get your kids vaccinated. Outbreaks of measles and other diseases still occur in our country and throughout the world. Protect that smile. Encouraging your kid to brush twice a day with a dab of fluoride toothpaste will guard against cavities. Be vigilant about safety. Babyproof your home thoroughly, and never leave a child under 5 in the tub alone. Make sure car seats are installed correctly, and insist that your child wear a helmet when riding his bike or scooter. Listen to the doc. If your pediatrician thinks your kid’s fever is caused by a malware, don’t push for antibiotics. The best medicine may be rest, lots of fluids, and a little TLC. Overprescribing antibiotics can cause medical problems for your child and increase the chances of creating superbugs that resist treatment.

Keep sunblock next to your kid’s toothpaste. Apply it every day as part of the morning routine. It’ll become as natural as brushing her teeth. Put your baby to bed drowsy but still awake. This helps your child learn to soothe himself to sleep and prevents bedtime problems down the line. Know when to toilet train. Look for these two signs that your child is ready to use the potty : He senses the urge to pee and poop ( this is different from knowing that he’s already gone ), and he asks for a diaper change.


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