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Make-believe – playing shops

What you need

  • Store cupboard food items, paper, pencil/pen, money or create paper money.


Imaginative play is important for the development of children’s cognitive and social skills. It helps to develop language and thinking skills as well as nurturing the imagination.

The experience

Organise some food and other items out of the cupboard and set up a little shop in your living room area. Together, you and your toddler can price each item using paper tags (numbers 1-20). You can then take it in turns buying from the shop, adding the numbers together to get the total. You could model writing a receipt for the items. You can pay with either real money or make your own paper coins.

You could also use this as an opportunity to talk about healthy eating!

Variation: Why not let your child create their own shopping list on a piece of paper and encourage them to tick the items off their list as they play?

Tips: Mark-making can vary during this learning experience. Children can draw the items, pretend to write their names, or make marks and letters on paper.