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How a Play Shop Teaches Math, Fine Motor, and Entrepreneurship

Did you ever set up a play shop as a kid? The role playing game for kids that teaches entrepreneurship, math, and fine motor skills.

Did you ever set up a play shop as a kid? The role playing game for kids that teaches entrepreneurship, math, and fine motor skills.

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I am a huge fan of pretend play. In our home, I see pretend play strengthening sibling relationships, and helping my children conquer fears. All four of my children have learned basic reading and writing through pretend play. This summer, I realized that pretend shop play is an amazing way for kids to learn math, develop fine motor skills, and explore entrepreneurship.

How a Play Shop Teaches Math, Fine Motor, and Entrepreneurship

I moved a lot as a kid. Sometimes my dad’s employer would ship our furniture; other times they told us to put our furniture in storage and they would supply storage. We could ship our own furniture at our own cost, but that’s really expensive, moving from one continent to another! My parents always opted for the company furniture, even though we missed our own things. One house we were moved into had furniture that could easily be divided into little play shops for me and three of my siblings. During the two years we had that piece of furniture, we set up little shops constantly!

We don’t have a piece of furniture that screams “turn me into play shops!”, but that didn’t stop my kids from transforming our living room into a marketplace this summer. I loved seeing their creativity, and the way they collaborated with one another to determine fair prices, opening hours, and advertising strategies.

Four Children, Four Shops: How My Kids Set Up Their Play Shops

My kids’ different stores are wonderful reflections of their personalities, strengths, and interests.

Eleven-Year-Old Emma’s Play Shop

Learn creative entrepreneurship with play shops.

My oldest daughter, eleven-year-old Emma, loves to read. She hopes to be an author, and often writes book reviews for my blog. She set up a book store, complete with printed stories, and digital stories that customers could read on her laptop. Like many real bookshops, Emma included a cafe, as well as mini books and white boards that she made using our laminator. She also included a basket of sensory toys, and advertising for her own blog, Maker Emma.

Use a play shop setting to help kids develop and showcase talents

Nine-Year-Old Johnny’s Shop

Nine-year-old Johnny is a big fan of adventure, the outdoors, and art. He fashioned different dragons and avatars out of pipe cleaners, giving the different colors of pipe cleaners different attributes. Each dragon and avatar received a name. Johnny also created rock pets to sell, but he left their names to their buyers.

Practice fine motor skills while creating wares for play shops.

Seven-Year-Old Lily’s Shop

Lily is my accessories girl. She created bracelets using pipe cleaners and embroidery floss. Both types of bracelets are braided.

fine motor practice with play shops.

Lily partnered with Johnny, created pet care guides and small pipe cleaner beds for Johnny’s dragons.

Use a play shop to develop language skills.

Four-Year-Old Anna’s Shop

Four-year-old Anna combined metallic pipe cleaners with colored tissue paper to make simple flowers to sell in her shop. She cut the tissue paper into squares, then poked the pipe cleaner through the middle of each square. She rounded out the top of the pipe cleaner so that it would stay in place.

Play shops encourage kids to think creatively.

I love the royal marketing that Anna added for her flowers. Her sign is written twice, because her sister wrote it out for her once and then Anna copied it. Great literacy and fine motor practice!

Kids learn math and money management through play shops

Skills Developed Through Play Shops

Here are a few skills I noticed my children honing through this play:

Play shop role play is the perfect opportunity for kids to develop entrepreneurship skills.


My children used our play money set to buy their wares, which meant they were giving one another change, calculating totals, and budgeting what they could afford from each shop.

Fine Motor Skills

All four children worked on projects that challenged their fine motor skills, preparing wares to sell in their shops.


Being an entrepreneur requires an ability to come up with creative ideas, identify a market, create a  product, and market that product. Each of my kids went through this entire process as they played this game.

Tips for a Successful Play Shop Experience

Encourage Different Shops to Sell Different Things

My kids’ marketplace worked beautifully, because they had zero product overlap. This fostered cooperation over competition, and encouraged them to buy from one another.

Help Everyone Showcase Their Wares

My kids set up their shops around our climbing toy, with each shop facing a different direction. Emma did have a certain advantage, since she also took over part of the kitchen counter. The other kids were fine with this because she went to such an effort to support their shops, and because she organized the event.

Focus on What You Do Best

My kids really enjoyed creating products that reflected their strengths and personalities. It also made it fun for them to visit their siblings’ shops.

Support Each Other

My kids have a lot of practice getting along, and they set a ground rule where they would each buy something from one another’s shop. With this in mind, a couple of them requested custom orders from siblings.

Do your kids love to play shop? What skills do you see your children learning through pretend play? Please share in the comments below, or on my Facebook page. You can also tag me on Instagram

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

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