Let’s go Shopping with Toca Store

After the Easter holidays, we’re back in business! We’ve had fun in previous holidays creating activity days based around our favourite apps (see Activity Days  for earlier ones) so over Easter Mr Tall and Little Miss Chatterbox were keen to do more. This time, we chose Toca Store, one of the excellent range of apps from Toca Boca.

This is a brilliant app for shopping role play, ideally with two players. Playing with an adult is great for helping your child learn through play, and talking to them about the choices they are making.  On the other hand, two children playing together is great for giving you five minutes peace to have a cup of tea while they play nicely (until war breaks out over the sausages…)

Of course, it’s great to have “real” shops to play with too, not just on a screen. But when you haven’t the time or space for it, or just as a fresh way of playing shops, Toca Store is a great alternative. It uses the iPad screen well with the shopkeeper’s till at one end, the customer’s purse and bag at the other, and the displays in baskets in the middle. The shopkeeper chooses from a catalogue of products ranging from fruit and veg to teddies and hairdryers. My two love choosing what to sell, and whether to make it a fruit and veg shop, a toy shop or just sell a mixture of things. Sweetie shops are popular in our house for some reason. Some of the baskets have choices within them, such as flavours of jam or colours of toys, which gives the customer a greater element of choice too.

The shopkeeper sets the prices from 1 to 5 coins (the customer has 10 coins in their purse). What happens if the price is more than the number of coins left? The purse winks and “magically” finds extra coins to compensate. While not perhaps the greatest life lesson it does help the game run more smoothly! At the end, a receipt is printed out to show the customer what they bought. The whole process takes only a few minutes, and then you can turn the iPad round and switch roles. It’s a very simple app, very smooth to use and really well conceived. It is great for turn-taking, imaginative play and counting, as well as just enjoying the shopping experience. Because you buy and bag each item separately, it can get a little repetitive after a while. However this is really more from my perspective – my children love it and I am sure the repetition reinforces their learning.

After playing Toca Store, we looked at real coins, read books about or set in shops, made our own shop on our coffee table (the name inspired by Alfie’s Shop!), played a shopping game, made price tags for shelves of toys, and went to our own local shops to buy some fruit and spend our pocket money in the charity shops. While Little Miss Chatterbox spent hers on a puzzle in the very first shop, Mr Tall was intent on finding Harry Potter merchandise, despite my warning him it was very unlikely we’d find anything. Of course, his dogged determination paid off in the end and we found a modelling kit for £3 – bargain!

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Toca Store, developed by Toca Boca, compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Available from https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/toca-store/id442705759?mt=8 priced at £1.99/$2.99 at time of writing. 

Sources for activities: The trolley game is Shopping List by Orchard Toys; toy shop printable from www.honkingdonkey.com

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