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Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless. 

– Jamie Paolinetti


Pretend Play


Use of our imagination can create colourful and fun imageries that defy the laws of physics where ANYTHING can happen. Many people think 'play' is associated only with physical objects such like kicking a ball or stacking blocks. However, another important aspect of play is 'Pretend Play' or 'Make-believe Play'. This style of play includes acting and playful exploration of different ideas and emotions which psychologists believe is critical to a child's social and cognitive development.  Let's explore how such a simple structured game 'Supermarket' can work on various skills simultaneously.

Imagine this scenario:

Two children pretend they are in a supermarket. Child A takes on the role of 'cashier', therefore sits patiently with a cash register at the checkout counter. Child B will get a shopping basket and follow a shopping list to get all the groceries. Child B then pays at the counter and Child A helps puts everything in the bag.


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Pretend Play promotes:

Perspective Taking:

Pretend they are in an actual supermarket as either customer or cashier and taking on different roles allows children to develop into complex thinking such as ‘Theory of Mind or empathy’.Theory of mind emerges from age of 3 and refers to the understanding that other people’s thought may differ from our own. Empathy is understanding and sharing other people’s emotions.

Social Skills:

Learning to playing co-operatively, aware of what others are doing in the game to interact, share toys, take turns and compromise with each other. They will learn social etiquette by looking at the person you are talking to and speak politely with 'Please' and 'Thank you'.

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Language Skills

By following a shopping list, they are given the opportunity to learn simple vocabulary by following shopping list! For young learners, can draw pictures instead! They will also learn the usual conversational scripts that occur in a supermarket setting such as the phrases: 'Where is (item)?', 'How much is this please?' as a customer or 'Welcome' or 'This is (price)' for cashier. 

Maths & Money Sense

Children are learning maths incidentally by ensuring they follow the number of items that are needed. At the checkout counter, the cashier can learn about the relative value of goods (more = charge more expensive price, imported products more expensive than home grown). The customer will learn the concept of giving money and getting change in return. Older learners can learn to give the exact amount.


Through play, children can acquire order of the steps for a typical routine. For buying items in a supermarket, they learn about getting shopping cart, putting items in the cart, wait in line for checkout, paying, putting items in bag before playing with the bought items!

What are you waiting for?

Let their imagination run wild!

This type of pretend play is suitable for children age 2 to 6 years old. After role-playing, give them the opportunity to transfer the skills in an actual supermarket by helping put items into the shopping cart or even giving money to the cashier to make shopping a fun and interactive experience for them!
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