Shoe Shop Dramatic Play!

Create a fun shoe shop dramatic play set up for some engaging creative play, as well as some great opportunities for practising some literacy and maths skills along the way!
Cakie is really into playing shops at the moment, since our garden centre/ flower shop that we set up in the garden a few weeks ago. Since we had just been shoe shopping and had a few boxes to hand, a shoe shop seemed the easy choice, plus one they would be able to remember and relate to very easily.

We went on a shoe hunt around the house and gathered some wellie boots, sandals, trainers and soft shoes in various sizes. I put my wellies out too to add even more of a size comparison.

Cakie got her shop till filled with play coins and bank notes. I found an old, real telephone, a notepad and pens and a real tape measure. We drew around our feet and made two basic measuring guides, one for adults and one for children. These didn’t use real measurements, they were just for fun and an easy way of getting some number recognition and counting into the play!

I wrote the price labels and C. attached them to each pair of shoes. She had a go at writing her own prices too and busily added those throughout the game. Simple, meaningful, playful literacy and numeracy within a context!

She also took phone calls from customers and noted down their orders onto her notepad with wonderful emergent squiggly writing! She “read” back to me what each note said with real surety. More playful literacy!

Most of the customers were teddies and dollies. Teddy had his feet measured and then tried on a pair of fetching Peppa Pig wellie boots, which he decided to buy.

The girls named the prices, read the numbers off the labels, asked for money then used play money to buy, giving “change” (usually very generously!) There was also a pretend debit card for using in the chip and pin machine (oh how play times have changed!) and they busily entered their chosen 4 digit pin numbers!

I had my feet measured with the tape measure and was told my feet are a “big grown up size 9.”

I introduced the idea of writing receipts and of ordering more stock. Cakie added these new elements to her play straight away and little Pop was very quick to copy, babbling away on the phone and adding her marks to the papers. I just love the expression and hand gesticulation in this photo! “How much?!!”

There were more opportunities for playful maths when we laid the shoes out as they had to be paired together. This is a classic sorting and matching activity and it was just the right level for Pop to do all by herself. There were two pairs of shoes that were identical to look at but different sizes, so those provided an extra challenge.

We also talked about the larger numbers in the shoes meaning a longer length and therefore bigger size, the fact that adult sizes use a different scale, and that in a real shoe shop they measure the width as well as the length of a child’s foot.

We were able to compare the sizes of shoes and discuss which was the biggest, which was the smallest and which shoes were the same size. This was a perfect sorting and grouping activity for Cakie’s level of thinking.

Plenty of context-rich, real life learning opportunities mixed into the role play fun! And that’s why early years educators love role play so much!

Learning Links:

  • literacy: playful emergent writing within a context using scribbles/ marks/ letters to represent meaning, taking on a role in play, talking on the telephone in role, engaging in conversation
  • maths: measuring with non-standard units, recognising and writing numerals, sorting and matching by pairing identical objects by colour and length, matching sizes, ordering by length, comparing big and small and using the language of bigger than/ smaller than/ same as
  • creativity: taking on a role from real life experiences and playing within a meaningful context in “character”
Cakie: 3 years 7 months
Pop: 2 years 1 month
Bean: 2 months


  1. says

    this makes me think of the book shoe la la by karen beaumont. maybe you could find it at your library and make a book connection to your shoe store play.

  2. says

    Wow, I love it! Such a great idea, and using materials we probably have around the house already (erm, a house full of old pairs of shoes anyone? I keep meaning to take them to Clarks for recycling but haven’t got around to it…)
    Can’t wait to try this out with my girls. Thank you for the idea.

  3. says

    This is fabulous! I love love love it! :) I hope you don’t mind but I’ve pinned it for future reference. My little Miss almost 2 loves to play shops and everything is $20 and is paid for by card, “beep beep” would love to put together a bit of structured shop play for her. PS. LOVE the Peppa Pig boots, my daughter would die if she saw them!! She loves her wellies and LOVES Peppa Pig!

  4. Anonymous says

    I really adore your ideas and the lay out of this site! Its easily my favorite, so thank you!