Activities on a Budget

Time for another Dollar Store Challenge with Activities on a budget.
If you live near a dollar store (or any place with a dollar spot, like Target or Michaels or Joanns), try this out.  Give yourself a budget (um, $5 is plenty!) and see what learning activities can be created from your shopping spree.

BBQ Tongs

Activities on a budget
Last time I was at the dollar store (I frequent The Dollar Tree most often), I picked up this divided tray in the serving ware section.  This time, I picked up a pair of BBQ tongs.  They are gigantic and fun and M loved transferring pompoms into the sections of the tray.

Peg Game

activities on a budget
Have you ever seen these wooden games?  They’re a buck and they are great for fine motor development!  This particular one has tees but I amp up the learning by adding in a bowl of marbles.  M has to push the tee through the hole and then balance the marble on top of the tee.  It’s challenging, tricky work that requires a lot of concentration.

Pill Boxes

activities on a budget
Pick one of these up next time you’re out and toss it in your purse or diaper bag.  I promise you this: Your tot will be amazed by his ability to open and close all the tiny doors!  We add in a handful of tiny shells or buttons or snacks and M can sort, hide, and play while we wait for appointments or reservations.

Salt Shaker 

activities on a budget
You might not even need to go to a dollar store, because this one might be right in your kitchen!  Go grab an empty salt shaker (I stuffed some tissue paper in the bottom of mine) and shove a couple pipe cleaners through the holes (or, have your tot do that!).  Place a bowl of pony beads with it and see if your tot can carefully string the beads onto the pipe cleaners!

So there you have it!  For $5 (including tax!), we created four new games that make learning fun!

Written by Jill
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  • Reply Margaret@GrowingPlay

    Wonderful ideas! I have been meaning to pick up one of those pill boxes. I LOVE the dollar store to add items for pretend play – band aids, ace wraps, etc. Since they are not your typical items in a store bought doctor’s kit the kids love the novelty of it. The tiny circle band aids are so cheap and perfect to put on dolls and stuffed animals.

    Here is an example of one of the pretend play boxes I put together –

    May 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm
  • Reply jk

    Great ideas! Most of these supplies we all have lying around the house 🙂

    May 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm
  • Reply JDaniel4's Mom

    What wonderful idea! I can’t believe you got them all for $5.

    May 14, 2012 at 5:17 pm
  • Reply Cora Rules

    These are great ideas!! Sometimes I just need some good ideas to get my creative juices going with fun activities to create for my kids. Thanks!

    May 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    I love the ideas, but dont think giving small children pill boxes is a good idea. Young kids don’t understand when they are toys and when they are very dangerous things. Especially if you put food in them, children are apt to find pill boxes with PILLS in them and think they are candy.

    May 15, 2012 at 1:33 am
  • Reply Jackie H.

    I love these ideas, especially the pill box. Great for learning on the go!! Of course, we don’t use a pill box for pills in our house. We only store pills in a child safe container so I don’t have to worry about my kids getting it confused. Great post.

    May 15, 2012 at 11:39 am
  • Reply Lindsey

    Wow. Some great ideas! I love the pipe cleaners and beads. My 2 year old loves beads, but can never quite get them on the shoe string. What a great adaptation!!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Lindsey @

    May 16, 2012 at 11:26 am
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