If you're using this summer to prepare for a preschool homeschooling adventure next year, consider dedicating one part of your house to an in-home grocery store. Grocery stores are a wealth of learning activities, with all the opportunities to learn about colors, counting, foods, textures, and money right at your fingertips. An in-home grocery store provides the same fun learning activities, without having to drive across town to the store.
Start by saving boxes, plastic containers, egg cartons and plastic shopping bags. You can also buy some fake foods and a shopping basket to enhance the experience. Once you have a handful of food item containers and boxes saved, use tape to close them up and make them sturdy. Stock the groceries on a bookshelf or other area in the home. If you have enough room, you can use two small bookshelves designating one for fresh foods like produce and the other shelf for boxed goods and snacks. For really young children, prices aren't necessary. Just the experience of shopping is fun. But for older preschoolers you can begin to teach about money by labeling the foods with whole dollar amounts. For example, 1.00 for ice cream and $2.00 for laundry detergent.
You can also teach older preschoolers how to shop by looking at prices located on shelving, rather than on the product itself. I have many times where I tell my daughter to grab the ketchup that is .97, pointing out that it's 9-7, and the label is on the shelf below the item. You can create a checkout area on the coffee table or anywhere the kids can reach and slide the items. For a more realistic check out, use a large piece of butcher block paper and tape it to the ends of the table. Use fake money or fake credit cards when checking out. Keep those GEICO or other plastic cards that come in junk mail to use as credit cards.
If you use a corner bookshelf, you can keep your grocery store up 24/7 without it cluttering up the house or getting in the way. If you don't have a lot of room to spare, make up the food items and store them in a cabinet or other area and bring them out during grocery store time. A really fun group activity is to get three to four preschoolers together and give them a shopping list using pictures. The first kid to find all the groceries gets to be the checkout person.
Below is a picture of the kids shopping at a fake grocery store at the museum. Gavin is pretending to get attacked by the 'fresh' lobster. Have fun!