Besides Playing Office, playing Store was my favorite game as a kid.
In general, I liked to handle money, make kid-formatted by-hand spreadsheets, and fill out paperwork.
I don’t know why I haven’t thought of introducing Ali to the game, but the other day, she suggested it to me.
My heart swelled with bursting joy and pride.
We played a short game, but then had to leave or eat or sleep or some other less important activity.
So yesterday, we embarked on a much more in-depth game of store, and I realized that besides the obvious benefits of counting, there are a LOT of learning opportunities in this most excellent, albeit a bit geeky, game.
1. It buys you time. What I was really trying to do yesterday was to have some one-on-one time with Noah and his board books. But Ali was jealous and was doing everything she could to get mine or Noah’s attention. So I told her that she and I were going to play store next.
But first, she needed to set up shop.
I rented her the coffee table for a storefront, then handed her a pad of post-it notes and a pen and told her to select items for sale, and then put price tags on every single one of them.
… and Noah and I were able to work on animal sounds and colors, uninterrupted, for the next ten minutes.
2. It’s good practice for writing numbers. Ali is a great letter writer, but has always struggled with numbers. And she’s not a big fan of practicing for practice’s sake.
Pricing merch, however, is a perfectly exciting way to work on that particular skill.
3. It teaches the concept of assigning value.
Tennis ball? $100. Book? $60. Random piece of Cardboard? $5.
4. It teaches creativity and marketing. I told her to choose a name for her store and to create signage.
She also informed me, “I’m talking in this different voice because I’m trying to sound like a shopkeeper.”
5. It reinforces currency and how to use it. Ali is a bit rusty on coins and dollars and how they all relate, so this really helped solidify the uses of them in her mind.
6. It’s great practice for making change without letting your kid onto the fact that they’re learning something useful.
Ali gets subtraction, but “making change” was a completely new idea – one that took a lot of brainpower.
…especially when interrupted by the merchandise.
(He might have gotten thrown in the clearance bin after that.)
7. It teaches bargaining. I didn’t want to pay $100 for a Tennis Ball.
“That’s just too high. And I don’t have that much money. Would you take $60 for it?”
“hmm… nope, it’s $100.”
8. It teaches good stewardship.
“Well, I don’t have that much money, so I can’t buy your tennis ball today.”
“Oh…yeah, I guess you can’t.”
9. It teaches the concept of patience in spending.
“But I really WANT you to buy the tennis ball, Momma!”
“Well, do you know if the Tennis Ball will be going on sale anytime soon? I just can’t afford $100.”
“Actually, I think it will be. Let me mark it down…”
“Yup – now it’s $1.”
10. It’s like an endless supply of three-dimensional math word problems.
“I want to buy this Jungle Speed stick and this bowl. How much will my total be?”
“Um…. they’re $4 and $2.”
“Right. So how much do I owe you all together?”
“Ooooh…. That will be $6.”
11. It teaches sales techniques and how to explain value.
“Mom! I really want you to buy this piece of cardboard!”
“But it’s $5!! Why is that piece of cardboard worth five whole dollars?!?”
“Because… because… because it’s such a BIG piece of cardboard!!”
12. It brings a whole new understanding to store-owner frustration at kids destroying their stores.
I hope she remembers that lesson next time she’s screaming like a loosed zoo animal in a tiny, quiet boutique.
13. You get a Shopping High without spending a single (real) dollar.
And nothing can really beat that.