Children are constantly absorbing information and learning from the world around them. The best teacher for young children is play and interaction with their environment. Little ones also love to mimic their parents. There are many day to day chores we take for granted that our children absolutely love. These are things like washing our cars (or going to the car wash), preparing meals, vacuuming, sweeping, packing clothes away and shopping. The list is surprisingly long.
Each of my children enjoyed playing with toy trolleys when they were toddlers. They would pretend to go to the shops and buy various fruit, vegetables, meats and toys. The wonderful by product of this fantastic imaginary game is that they learned the names, colours and shapes of many day to day foods. It also introduced them to the concept of paying and money at an early age. Although neither of them had any concept of how much R10 or R20 really was, they began to understand that you need to pay for things that you buy from a shop.
All your need is a little trolley and a few items to put in it. You can use toy foods or cut pictures out of magazines. You can even make up your own “products” for your children to buy. This game can be as simple or as complex as you make it.
An easy version is to place items on a nearby table and encourage your toddler to push his/her trolley to the table and put each item in the trolley. You can name each thing ie. chicken, cheese or fish or talk about colours and numbers. Do you want to put the green apple in your trolley? Would you like the blue plate or the green plate? Should we take four spoons? The possibilities are endless.
You can also designate a room in your house to be the “shop”. We picked one of the bedroom’s to be the shop and set up a small table with all the products on it. Sometimes my children would go to the room and fill up the whole trolley before returning to the lounge. Other times they would go and “buy” one or two things at a time.
We have a fairly long passage so we also did trolley races where each child had to see how fast they could go and fetch whatever I had requested.
Playing this game also encouraged my children to want to help when we went to the real shops. Whilst they sat in the trolley, I would tell them each things we needed and asked them to point it out as soon as they saw it. As they got older, I would let them take products (carefully) off the shelves and pop them in the trolley. My older child now helps cross of each item from our list.
If you child enjoys this game it is something that can be played for quite some time. You can add products to your shop whenever you wish. We also had a section that had some toys in it. These were usually whatever my children’s favourites where at the time and included Lego, cars, spinning tops and books. Another advantage of this game is that it can be played indoors or outdoors so is also useful as a rainy day activity.
Written by: Monique Loewenthal
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