Friday, July 17, 2009

Real Life Pretend Play

Ok, couldn't think of a good title for this blog...

So, our summer program has been progressing wonderfully this year. The kids and grown-ups have all been having a great time.

Last week, one of the classrooms was set up to be a grocery store. The kids were given a grocery list of items they needed to collect to prepare their snack. For example, one day the snack was Banana Dogs. On their list was a banana, a hot dog bun, and peanut butter. The classroom was set up into different areas, so they had to go to the "bakery" to get the hot dog bun, the "produce section" to get the banana, and the "canned good aisle" to get the peanut butter. Each child had a shopping basket, and when they found the item, they checked it off their list, and put it into their basket.

Because it was a pretend grocery store, of course we had to have a pretend check out area as well, complete with cash register, a scanner and pretend money. We thought the kids would have a great time playing store.

And they did. But what happened is that they got it in their mind they needed to pay for their snack. They would stand in line at the one cash register, baskets in hand, and wait patiently to pay for their snacks with wads of crumpled pretend money. The lines would sometimes get as long as ten kids, all standing with the baskets on their hips, tapping their toes, and looking extremely bored. Just like everyone of us has done probably at least once a week since reaching adulthood. We did suggest to the kids that they could just go ahead and sit down, and not "pay"; "But that would be stealing!" we were told. Ok.

What if no one was manning the pretend register? The customer would stand there, looking irritated, and shout, "I need help here!" until another child would run over to check out the waiting customer.

We got the biggest kick out of this very unexpected twist to our grocery store. Did they want to pay because they had been standing in lines at grocery stores with their parents since infancy? Are we genetically programmed to stand in line after checking items off a shopping list? Who knows. But it sure was fun. And funny.