by Karla Fitch, Webmaster, Connecting for Kids
Don’t let its simplicity fool you; Toca Store, by Swedish developer, Toca Boca, is a social skills and life skills powerhouse. The $2.99 app, disguised as a colorful pretend store, can be used to teach social skills, like turn-taking and multi-turn conversations, as well as life skills, including paying for purchases and shopping from a list.
In this article, I’ll show you how you can use this app with your own children to promote learning important skills while having fun.
Toca Store makes it so much fun to be the shop keeper or the customer that it is very easy to implement a your-turn, my-turn scenario. To begin, place the iPad between yourself and your child, with the shop keeper’s side facing the child. You can start either way, but if you struggle with getting your child engaged, it helps that the shop keeper has immediate tasks (choosing items to sell from the catalog). Play through an entire shopping scenario and then rotate the iPad. To help enforce that you are taking turns, say “my turn to be [shop keeper/customer]” when you rotate the iPad. After practicing that way for a while, pause before turning the iPad to let your child take the lead in declaring whose turn it is. You can offer verbal or visual prompts to help them become independent (for example, “ask whose turn is it now?” or slightly begin to rotate the iPad).
Because Toca Store is a concrete, practical environment, children who struggle with more abstract conversation have the opportunity to shine. You can encourage multiple conversational turns by asking questions while your child acts as the shop keeper. For example:
You: Hello shop keeper. How are you doing today?
Child: I’m good.
You: I’m looking for fruit. Do you have any fruit to sell?
You: Can you show me to the fruit aisle?
Child: *points to fruit basket*
You: Thank you. How much does it cost?
Child: Three coins.
You: Here you go.Child: Thank you.
Paying for Purchases
Each item “purchased” in the Toca Store results in a cash transaction. The shop keeper sets the price and the customer is required to pay for their purchase before it can be added to the shopping bag. Not only does this scenario allow for multi-turn conversations, it can also give children practice with selecting an item, asking for the price, and paying for their purchase. For example:
Child: I want to buy this doll. How much is it?
You: That will be 2 coins.
Child: *opens coin purse and counts 2 coins*You: Thank you very much! Come again!
While the coin purse does magically re-fill when the customer runs out, you can also practice budgeting with children who are ready for the topic by setting a house rule that the child is not allowed to refill their coin purse.
Shopping from a List
This skill requires a little additional setup but can be extremely useful for teaching children to be independent. Before setting up your shop, write down a list of one to five items that the child is required to purchase on their shopping trip (don’t forget to make sure that those items are available when you set up your shop!). Encourage the child to read the list independently and purchase the correct items. Children who are familiar with needs and wants can also be encouraged to discuss why it’s important to shop from the list (as opposed to choosing other items in the store).
Toca Store is a well-loved favorite in our house and we hope it will become popular with your family too. We’d also love to hear if you’re using this app and what other skills you’ve used to teach with it.Save Save Save Save Save