The Grocery Store Game

This post was sponsored by Melissa & Doug, and brought to us by guest blogger Rebecca from A Beautiful Ruckus.

Our kids love the grocery store. I mean, love the grocery store.  I think it’s the combination of riding in the grocery carts, holding the different items as they make it into the basket, and seeing all of the different foods we get to choose from. But, there is one very important part of grocery shopping that they don’t get to do: the part where we actually pick out the food.

The Grocery Store Game for Preschoolers When Melissa & Doug offered to send us some grocery goodies, I was really excited! I immediately thought that setting up our own grocery store in the backyard and letting the kids do all of the shopping themselves would be a wonderful tie in to a favorite activity.

I started by grabbing our picnic table and a sheet to create shelves that they could shop from. We used four sets of the Let’s Play House! Grocery Baskets with Play Food, and two sets of the Food Groups – Wooden Play Food groceries. The food groups set includes meats, dairy, produce, and bread. I loved this set as the pieces were all wooden and easily identifiable for the kids. Each grocery basket includes a set of play food boxes and play food cans.

Melissa & Doug Grocery Store Game Collage We decided to make the grocery store game a surprise, so the first the kids heard of it was when Daddy opened the back door, announced that we were going grocery shopping, and handed out grocery baskets. They were delighted!

IMG_7764 Melissa & Doug Grocery Store Game Abby and Ellie checking out their new grocery store

I just loved seeing the excitement on their faces as they realized that they were in control of what went into their baskets. Mommy wasn’t in charge. They were! Meanwhile, Sean and I stood back and just watched what they chose to do with the groceries. Open ended play is a great way to see how kids process what’s in front of them.

IMG_7765 Melissa & Doug Grocery Store Game Abby, Caleb, Ellie, and Elijah

We let the kids explore the food items for awhile, and noticed that at first, they were simply grabbing and putting items in their baskets. It seemed to be a race to see who could fill their basket first. At the beginning, we didn’t notice them stopping to really take a look at what was in front of them. The action of shopping seemed to be more important than anything.

IMG_7769 Melissa & Doug Grocery Store Game Elijah filling up his grocery basket

IMG_7771 Melissa & Doug Grocery Store Game Eli, Abby, Caleb, and Ellie

After a while, though, they started to notice exactly what they were picking up. We used that opportunity to practice identifying and saying the names of the different items. We were especially excited to hear Caleb name a few different foods. With his language delays, we look for every opportunity to have him practice common words. Food is a great motivator!

IMG_7781 Melissa & Doug Grocery Store GameCaleb

IMG_7776 Melissa & Doug Grocery Store GameAbby

As we discussed the different food items and what they were, the girls finally realized that there was one key item that they had missed: The Brownie Mix. Oh goodness, once Ellie found out that the grocery store had chocolate in it, it was all over. She grabbed a box for herself and then put a box in Abby’s basket as well. And then when Abby found out that “brownie mix” was code for “chocolate” her main goal suddenly became to grab as many boxes of Brownie Mix as possible.

Melissa & Doug Grocery Store Game 3 CollageEllie, Abby, and the Brownie Mix

When the kids finished shopping, they sat down to go through their baskets and take a look at everything they found. They started to put different food items together to form new items. I loved seeing their imagination take off with the food prompts in front of them.

IMG_7788 Melissa & Doug Grocery Store GameAbby, Elijah, and Ellie

Abby told me that she was making a sandwich with some bread and a chicken leg. That kind of creativity excites me because I know that they are connecting things and concepts in their heads.

IMG_7797 Melissa & Doug Grocery Store Game Abby making her sandwich out of food that she found in the grocery store

I also took a few minutes with Ellie to work on sorting. Using what she put in her basket, we practiced picking out all of the fruits and vegetables, saying their names, and putting them back into the produce bin. She did a great job!

Melissa & Doug Grocery Store Game 2 CollageEllie sorting produce back into the produce bin

All of our kids are at slightly different levels even though they are quadruplets. We let them lead the activity, but tried to incorporate specific activities for each of them based on their current skill level. We managed to include open ended play, object discovery, naming objects, taking two objects and creating something new, sorting by type, and even some sharing and generosity practice…all in one game! It was so nice to have a family activity that played to each of their strengths but also gave them a chance to learn. In one short morning, the grocery store quickly became a family favorite!

This post is sponsored by one of our favorite toy and learning companies:
Melissa & Doug. Thank you for letting us share another fun activity with you!

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Rebecca Ishum-Photo


“Rebecca Ishum lives with her husband, Sean, and their three-year-old quadruplets in Kansas City. She writes a parenting/lifestyle blog about raising her unique family at and is a freelance writer for local parenting magazines. She loves documenting as many little moments about her kids, motherhood, and marriage as possible: the good, the bad, and the silly!”

Thank you to Melissa & Doug for sponsoring this post! For more info, please see my disclaimer page!

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