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Dollar Store Challenge – Activities on a Budget

Dollar Store Challenge – Activities on a Budget
 I love, love, love creating new activities and games for M.  She’s almost 5 but still loves tonging and tweezing, sorting and grouping. Last week, I gave myself a challenge.  I call it, “The Dollar Store Challenge.”  Clever, huh?
My (self-imposed) rule was to come out with as many activities as possible for only a few dollars.  We’re on a tight budget around here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get creative!  Here’s what I came up with for activities on a budget…
Divided Plate
activities on a budget
I saw this and decided to pick it up and put an alphabet twist on it.  M loves her tiny object collection and I knew we could work this with tiny objects and letter sounds.
Once home, I used an erasable marker and wrote letter sounds right on the plastic (when you’re done, it easily erases with water or just a little rub).  I put a collection of tiny objects in the middle section and let her select an item one by one.  We started out sorting the objects by initial sound, which was quick for her.  Then, I changed out the objects and letters and sorted by final sound.  MUCH trickier!
If you don’t have tiny objects, you could sort small toys or found objects (buttons, coins, ect.) by letter sound.
Sink Mat
activities on a budget
I immediately tossed one of these in my cart because I knew what I could do with it: lacing mat.
Tie a length of ribbon to one corner (I cute mine in four pieces because it was a little cumbersome for M to hold) and let your little one sew, loop, and twist throughout.  Undoing it is half the fun.
Potato Masher
activities on a budget
Oh my.  This one was fun and all for a dollar.  Pour some paints on a plate or tray (I like washable poster paint) and let your little one mix and mash and paint.  M loved creating new colors, making unique designs, and generally just exploring paint through a new medium.
Not one for painting?  Potato mashers can be used with play dough, in the sand box, or even in a big bubble bath!
So in all, I spent $3 and got hours and hours of fun and learning!  Hit up your dollar store with your mind wide open.  There are some treasures in there!
Written by Jill

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Sunday 3rd of February 2013

How can I build a tiny objects collection??

The Activity Mom

Monday 4th of February 2013

You can start your collections with shaped buttons or tiny figures from your toy collection. We also offer a Tiny Object Collection at

Raising a Happy Child

Monday 9th of April 2012

I love dollar stores and Target dollar section. Many great finds there, but I love how you found uncommon uses of common objects.


Saturday 7th of April 2012

Also, I have the sink mat. I was thinking of using it for painting over like a stencil. Still thinking on that...


Saturday 7th of April 2012

I love the dollar store! I think I'll have to run out there & get some potato mashers now! : )