How to Play Shop

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.

Bigjigs Village Shop
Tender Leaf General Stores
Tender Leaf Market Scales

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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