One of Emily’s most favorite make-believe games is to play “store”. Usually I am the shopkeeper, purveyor of all manner of wares from stuffed animals to plastic food, bracelets to blocks. Emily strolls around her playroom with her plastic shopping cart, returning to me for price checks and swipes of her (thankfully fake) credit card to purchase her items.

When I saw a picture of a shopping cart appear on Toca Boca’s Facebook Wall as a teaser for their next game, needless to say, I got really excited. Not wanting to get Emily’s hopes up, should my suspicions be incorrect, I didn’t tell her that another Toca Boca game was on the way. Instead, upon release I simply added it to her Toca Boca folder on my iPad. Yes, Toca Boca has its very own and VERY often visited folder.

When we loaded up Toca Store for the first time, her eyes lit up. Here was our fun game of make believe…on the iPad.

The way Toca Store works is that one player is the shopkeeper and the other person (or favorite stuffed animal) is the buyer. The screen is laid out like a little shop with five colorful baskets laid out on the shop floor to hold the items you are selling, as well as a counter with a cash register. The buyer has a cute shopping bag and coin purse. Each player positions his or herself on opposite ends of the iPad. Then, one at a time, the seller selects the five items he or she wants to sell from a catalog, and places them in the baskets. These sale items include all kinds of things like pasta (my daughter’s favorite, and she insists it’s gluten-free), milk, dolls, robots and even Toca Boca tees.

Now it’s time for the buyer to make a purchase. using her finger she drags the item she wants to buy to the counter. If there is a particular color (or flavor) of item you want, you can actually sift through the basket to find the exact one you want. Next, the seller sets the price on the cash register and the coin drawer opens. The buyer then drags the correct number of coins from her friendly coin purse to the register drawer. The buyer then closes the drawer and the item is printed on the receipt. Finally, the buyer places the item into her equally as friendly shopping bag. This continues until the buyer runs out of money, at which point the receipt appears in full, for your viewing pleasure.

Emily and I have been having so much fun with this game. She likes playing as either the seller or the buyer and sometimes even both, telling me I’m going to be the buyer, picking the items she is going to sell, and only then informing me that, NOPE, she is actually going to be the buyer. 🙂

Little does Emily know that while she’s having all this fun, she’s actually learning (please don’t spoil the surprise). Beyond the basic gameplay, there are so many fun learning activities you can come up with using Toca Store. For instance, sometimes up front, I’ll tell Emily what I’m going to charge her for each of the items, forcing her to use some very basic money management skills to decide how best to spend her 10 coins. I laugh out loud at some of the funny stuff Emily comes up with while we are playing . One night she turned the tables on me, warning that if I were to buy that chocolate milk for 1 coin, then every other item in her store would go up to 5 coins each, so “was I REALLY sure I want that chocolate milk?”. I threw caution to the wind and bought the milk…it was yummy!

I’m rather impressed by all the little details and cute touches there are in the game, from the brilliant way they’ve handled the situation when a buyer runs out of money mid-purchase, to the smiling faces on the cash register, coin purse and shopping bag. I especially like how it gives you the full authentic-looking receipt at the end. I love to use this as a means of further education, seizing the opportunity to playfully quiz Emily on her numbers and practice simple addition as she totals up all her purchases.

In Conclusion

From the moment we loaded up Toca Store, I knew Toca Boca had once again, absolutely nailed it. Emily is enamored with this fun, educational and addictive game. Not only will it bring out your child’s imagination, I suspect it’ll elicit some smiles from parents as well! Toca Store is available as a $1.99 universal app.