Kids Play Space - The Shoe Shop

I am so excited to share this kids play space adventure with you!  Our toddler, like most, loves dressing up, pretending, and being independent, and this shoe shop invitation to play kept him engaged (on and off) for a good two weeks (at which point, we were travelling overseas and needed to pack things up a bit)! It provided so many opportunities for learning through play...

How did it come about?
  • I'd been watching young B for a while, getting into my husband and my shoe cupboard (as well as his own) and helping himself to a random pair to try out around the house - problem solving to get his feet into them, analysing the valcro/zip/lace attachments, then carefully standing, balancing, and moving - towards us for a reaction, and inevitably to the mirror for laughs! Memories from my own childhood came flooding back - my brothers and I always enjoyed our parents shoes too!
  • We were due for another trip to the (real, actual) shoe shop - so why not indulge his interests and practise a bit with some imaginative play too?
  • I'd been doing a bit of 'Spring Cleaning' (a constant ritual living in a small unit!), and had gathered a bunch of ill fitting, old shoes from all of our closets for the charity store, friends, even some destined directly for the trash... and as I have trouble throwing anything without wondering if they can be reused - I thought an extra few weeks for a fun kids play space would be a good idea!
At the (real- life, actual) shoe shop! ...and trying out mama's sports shoes:-)

Looking at the size of his feet and how much he's grown, it reminded me that I need to do some more prints for memorabilia! Kids grow so quickly!!

So here's what our living room (our everything room!) looked like with the whole shop set up (I may or may not be standing on our dining table to bring you this overview - hehe!)...

The set up:
  • Foam mats: for a 'cat walk' parade area
  • Stools/chairs: to put the shoes on/off
  • Shoe boxes and wrapping tissue paper: to prepare shoes, and when the chosen pairs of shoes are identified - 'to take home' ;-)
  • Mirror (pulled off our bedroom wall): to check oneself out! (Great for body/spatial awareness and general fun!)
  • A cereal box: converted into a shoe measure - with paper, crayons and measuring tapes to trace foot (shoe) size (...oh how I love cereal boxes!! - Have you seen our Cereal Box City series?)
  • Shoes!! - some old and some current favourites... Hey, any other mamas out there find their feet went up half a shoe size after giving birth? All those perfectly wonderful shoes... just half a size too tight! ...Might be time to go shopping?
Of course, I had fun preparing this surprise set up for B to explore  - but a simple pile of shoes would be (and is) just as fun for kids!

Imaginative Play:
  • "Let's go to the shoe shop!" ... shopper, shop owner, helper, ...
  •  Dress ups ... "Who am I in these shoes?", "Where am I going?", "Is it Summer, Winter, hot, rainy?" ...
Language, Social Skill and Basic Concept Development:
  • Practising new vocab, role playing, turn taking, waiting, asking questions and answering politely
  • Large, small, long, short, wide, tight, loose ... just right! 
  • Colours, sizes, numbers, matching up the shoes ... (visual perception skills)
  • There is also lots of potential for math practise with older kids - money, sizes, measurements...
  • Getting to know feet - counting toes, drawing around them, sensory fun...
Learning to be Independent: 
  • "I can put my shoes on myself!"
  • Problem solving - (left & right... not yet tackled here!) 
  • Managing/attempting the attachments (zips, laces, valcro...) - fine motor work
  • Standing, balancing, moving/walking/jumping/dancing in the shoes... (a bit of common sense supervision required here - eg. possibly suggesting alternative shoe choices for kids likely to injure themselves doing crazy hip hop or jive dancing in mama's stiletto heels, etc...)
Other top reasons to give this a go:
  • Free
  • Easy
  • Can be adapted for older or younger kids
  • Great for independent play, play dates, or family laughs - what a lovely bonding activity!
  • Opportunities to create foot print memorabilia items (*still on my 'to do' list!!)
  • Everyday living skills practised in a fun context - learning through play!
... Just check out this snapshot of the fun this little munchkin had in our 'shoe shop'! Big smiles all 'round!

    Next challenge for us on the shoe front... working on left and right :-) ...

    Do your kids love shoe - dress ups too? I'd love to hear your left and right practise tips;-)

    Thanks so much for visiting Kids Play Space!

    If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to check out these:
    The Real Value of a "Babycino"
    Spring Cleaning - Toddler Style
    Puppet Theatre - Homemade with Love

    'til soon,
    Happy Playing!
    Anna :-)
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