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 ISSUE 36   •   30  JULY 2007  
   This issue: shopping


1. Editorial
2. Simple shop supplies
3. Pretend cash register

4. Fun shop games
5. Featured subscriber blog

1. Editorial

The mere thought of taking the kids with me on a shopping trip used to fill me with dread. But, as the kids have got older, I've found that a trip to the supermarket can be kind of fun. And when you don't have to spend every moment doling out bribes, there are actually a lot of valuable things that kids can learn from the high seat in the trolley.

For starters, shopping with your kids provides a great opportunity to teach them about making healthy food choices. It's also a great way to teach them about the effect that food packaging has on the environment and about about fresh versus processed foods.

Take them with you to the greengrocers and use the regularity of your shopping trips to teach them about seasonality and locality – not to mention all the different types of fruit and vegetables.

Another great idea for shopping trips is to give children their own bag and list (a visual list for pre-readers) and set them their own mission for the shopping trip. I sometimes set Ella the task of collecting all the ingredients we need to bake an apple cake – her favourite.

Just quickly, I'd like to share some fun shopping related links from my favourite blogs and websites:

• an excellent (and free) crochet shopping bag pattern
• another great string bag – this one for the knitters
PETA's cruelty-free pocket shopping guide

• and for the frugal-at-heart, download the free thrifty wallet buddy – a small card that lists questions you should ask yourself before making a purchase.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your enthusiasm for the last issue. Thanks especially to Tami, Solana, Jasper and Nat for sending in great photos of their 'machine' crafts for the gallery!

Happy crafting and see you next time!

Amber Carvan

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2. Simple shop supplies

We had great fun finding things from around the house and using them to make supplies for our shop. At four, Ella is keen to participate fully in this process and came up with some great ideas. If you, or you little ones, come up with your own ideas, please take pictures and send them in. We'd all love to see them!

Oranges and apples

1. Scrunch up some coloured crepe or tissue paper and fasten with a rubber band if they don't hold together. Then pop them into a net bag.


1. Stuff the legs of some pantyhose with scrunched up newspaper to make a baguette.


1. Serve up some packing peanuts in a paper coffee filter, using a plastic scoop from your laundry power.


1. Fold some pieces of paper into thirds and cut off strips to make pasta.

2. Package them in an old box and seal with cling wrap.

Sushi rolls

1. Roll up some thin dish sponges and pop on a rubber band to keep them wrapped up.


1. Insert a stick into some coloured plasticene to make a lollipop.

Fancy drinks

1. Squeeze a couple of drops of food colouring into a bottle of water. (Seal the lid using sticky tape if you're at all worried about the contents ending up on the carpet.)

3. Pretend cash register

No play shop would be complete without a pretend cash register. There are a multitude of different ways you could make one – here's what we did.

We used:

• cardboard boxes
foil tray
paper and pencils


1. We painted the boxes and stuck them together, putting a foil tray on the top to act as a scale.

2. We made a cash drawer by cutting the top from a box, adding a handle and folding up some cardboard to make trays.

3. We drew pictures of the foods that we were going to sell at the shop. Then we coloured them in and stuck them on the register.

4. And here it is – the finished shop, cash register and happy shopkeeper!

4. Fun shop games

Do you dread the thought of playing pretend? It doesn't have to be a painful or boring experience. Here are some simple ideas to get you started in the pretend shop.

• What's on the counter?

Select a number of items from the shop and place them on the counter or on a tray. Have your little one take a close look. Then cover the counter with a large cloth and carefully remove one item. Remove the cloth and have your little one remember what item was taken away.

• Let's write/draw a list

Write a list of items for your child to collect from the shop and deliver to you – if they can't read yet, use simple pictures. Have them bring you the items they collected and check them off against the list. Then, for a bit more fun, reverse roles and have your little one put the list together.

• Practicing colours and counting

Use shop play as an opportunity to practice counting and other concepts. Instead of asking your little shopkeeper for some apples – ask for three things beginning with the letter a. Or, request two of everything in the shop. Or, ask for suggestions from the shopkeeper for things to eat on a picnic. Or request advice on what food your pet camel should eat! The trick to playing pretend with kids is to do things that give them an opportunity to look good.

• Shop maintenance

There's more to being a shopkeeper than serving customers. Make an open/closed sign so that your little one can close up and do some work behind the scenes. Encourage them to sweep the shop floors, stack the shelves neatly, dust and rearrange things!

Here's a photo of my little shopkeeper in action:

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5. Featured subscriber blog

Oya baka mama

"This is the blog of a five year old, a native Oregonian, a current resident of Appalachia, a ballet dancer, sculptor, cooker, and lover of calamari. John is one and likes to wear books on his head."

To have your blog featured in this section just send in your web address and I'll add you to the list. But be warned, the waiting list is currently very long.


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