You already love the dollar store for party and cleaning supplies (can we talk about LA’s Awesome Cleaner?!), but did you know that you can find material to entertain and educate your preschooler there as well? There’s absolutely no need to spend big bucks when putting together fun activities for little hands and minds as simple things often make a greater impact. Additionally, the low investment means that you won’t be frustrated if a particular experiment is less popular with your little one. Here are five unique and creative dollar store preschool activities that will be mentally stimulating for your preschooler and fun for the both of you!
With a plastic chip-and-dip tray, small craft items, and big tweezers, you can create a vibrant learning station! These items provide an excellent opportunity to practice pre-math and pre-writing skills. You could let them experiment and play with the tweezers alone or provide a specific task. For example, have them sort the items by color, size, or shape. The tweezers, which can be found in the school supplies aisle, strengthen little hands for holding pencils later on. For this example, we used bells and pom poms, but you could easily find other little objects to try. Marbles, candy, cotton balls, marshmallows, and a host of others would suit this project well. With all the different things to sort and ways to sort them, this activity alone provides hours of entertainment!
Construction Site Rocks
We love this activity for when the rocks and mud outside are calling, but mom is boring and wants the dirt to stay outside *gasp*! The little engineer in your home will love the feeling of playing with real rocks and working their own little construction site. Let them play freely, either at the countertop, or on the floor, depending upon the presence of younger siblings. A low-sided bin works well if you need to contain the rocks a little more securely. They are great for pushing around with a toy truck, counting, and sorting! The smooth, clean rocks make for easy cleanup.
Shaving Cream Painting
We all know that Dads tend to be pretty fun, but they don’t like it when you mess with their shaving cream! Grab your own from the Dollar Tree for lots of sensory play and pre-writing practice! Your kids will be amazed when you let them squirt this fluffy stuff all over the window or sliding glass door. We love to have them use it to draw people, practice their letters, make handprints, and assemble shapes. Shaving Cream art time is just as fun on horizontal surfaces too. Its soapy, smooth texture feels wonderful to the touch and is relatively simple to clean up.
Letter Recognition Practice
Dollar store dot labels, any sort of paper, and a marker are all you need for this simple yet effective learning activity. The child sorts the letters written on the dot stickers into the column underneath the corresponding letter of his name. This is an excellent activity for fine motor skill enhancement and letter recognition. The individual letter stickers show toddlers and preschoolers that words are made up of letters in the first place. They will most likely need help with this one the first few times you try it, but will eventually be able to do it on their own! Once they’ve mastered their name, let them try new words. For older kids, allow them to assemble their own words from letter stickers that you create.
Cotton Swab Construction
Take some cotton swabs, add some tacky glue, and your kids can pass the day away building all manner lovely things. Start simple with 2D structures like shapes and letters, then work up to houses and cars! Build right alongside your kids, as this activity can require some adult collaboration (and patience) depending upon the complication of the designs. If this seems a bit too challenging for your little ones, build with toothpicks and mini marshmallows instead. On a rainy day, have your family create an entire cityscape!
Customized Dollar Store Preschool Activities For the Whole Family
Low-investment, high-enjoyment dollar store activities like these are perfect for most kids aged two to five. Feel free to customize the activities to suit the ages and abilities of the little ones in your family. If you are stationed in Japan check out your local 100 yen store for a comparable selection of goodies! Thanks to the low cost of these materials you won’t feel guilty in the likely event that your toddler or preschooler begs to watch Paw Patrol instead!
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Check out this article on How to Simplify Your Life with Kids
Photo Credits: Shayna Mabee