21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree

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As a teacher I set off to the Dollar Tree regularly in order to find good buys for my classroom. Here are my ideas on what’s worth purchasing at the dollar tree as a kindergarten teacher.

These items may be used exactly as they were intended or I may have a creative classroom purpose for it.

I love these 21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing From the Dollar Tree

I’ve purchased many things too that I’ve never used, or that broke quickly. {honest confession: we call it the $20 store since I never seem to make out of there for less}

So here’s my list of things worth purchasing and how I like to use them in my classroom.

Not every dollar store is the same, so take these ideas, what your dollar store has to offer and my opinion with a grain of salt.

What is worth purchasing from the Dollar Tree

Oh yeah, in full disclosure this is not a paid endorsement for the Dollar Tree. It’s simply a collection of things I’ve purchased and ways I’ve used them in my classroom.

But I am an affiliate so you can check out what they have available online at the Dollar Tree.

Craft foam

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Craft foam from the dollar tree comes in packs of multi-colors and usually has at least 5-6 pieces of each color. This works for me since I have enough to make a set of small group materials without having to purchase multiple sets. My favorite use has been to create ten frame manipulatives, but I have also used it to make a flash card flash game, and rekenreks.

Craft foam from the dollar tree comes in packs of multi-colors and usually has at least 5-6 pieces of each color. This works for me since I have enough to make a set of small group materials without having to purchase multiple sets.

My favorite use has been to create ten frame manipulatives, but I have also used it to make a flash card flash game, and rekenreks.

Sunglasses & mini-clipboards

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Sunglasses are cheap enough and come in fun shapes to use in my detective {read and write the room} literacy center. If a pair breaks, no tears shed since they were only a buck for a pack of 3. This mini clipboards are perfect for making this center feel special with its own set of tools. They have held up for years.

Sunglasses are cheap enough and come in fun shapes to use in my detective {read and write the room} literacy center. If a pair breaks, no tears shed since they were only a buck for a pack of 3.

The mini clipboards are perfect for making this center feel special with its own set of tools. They have held up for years!

Pointers

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - These pointers are always on hand for me to grab during whole group instruction. These definitely get grubby after a year or two so I give them a scub or toss depending upon how much I love them still. I like the variety and having enough to let students use them at literacy centers as well.

This snapshot comes as a sneak peek behind my teacher easel. These pointers are always on hand for me to grab during whole group instruction.

These definitely get grubby after a year or two so I give them a scrub or toss depending upon how much I love them still. I like the variety and having enough to let students use them at literacy centers as well.

Magnifying glass readers

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Magnifying Glass Pointers - I call these pointers and we use them during guided reading groups. Students love seeing the print magnified when reading their leveled books through for a repeat reading to make it fun and keep it fresh. I buy another one anytime I see them on the shelves {seriously}

I call these pointers and we use them during guided reading groups. Students love seeing the print magnified when reading their leveled books through for a repeat reading to make it fun and keep it fresh.

I buy another one anytime I see them on the shelves {seriously}

Water blasters

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - No water ever gets to see the light of day in these water blasters. But we turn them into craaazy long pointers that are perfect for reading the room. I like they make normally unreachable spaces now reachable to even my smallest kinders. Note: there will need to be a mini-lesson on not using them as swords {yep yep}

No water ever gets to see the light of day in these water blasters. But we turn them into craaazy long pointers that are perfect for reading the room. I like they make normally unreachable spaces now reachable to even my smallest kinders.

Note: there will need to be a mini-lesson on not using them as swords {yep yep}

Water squirters

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - These are the mini-version of the blasters. They are great for using whole group instruction since you can point directly in front of you or across your entire easel. I also add a few of these to our big book center to encourage word and print exploration.

These are the mini-version of the blasters above. They are great for using whole group instruction since you can point directly in front of you or across your entire easel.

I also add a few of these to our big book center to encourage word and print exploration.

Bingo daubers (dot makers)

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Bingo Daubers - I'm not fancy. I call these 'dot makers' because that's what they are. I *love* using these for two main purposes in my classroom. We use them quite often in math to illustrate our work when working with ten frames or large quantities.
21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Bingo Daubers - I'm not fancy. I call these 'dot makers' because that's what they are. I *love* using these for two main purposes in my classroom. We use them quite often in math to illustrate our work when working with ten frames or large quantities.

I’m not fancy. I call these bingo daubers ‘dot makers‘ because that’s what they are. I love using these for two main purposes in my classroom.

We use them quite often in math to illustrate our work when working with ten frames or large quantities.

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Bingo Daubers - I also reserve one color each year to be the color for when a student earns a reward coupon. They get a stamped dot in their daily folder to show they earned the reward and I like that it can't be duplicated by kinder hands.

I also reserve one color each year to be the color for when a student earns a reward coupon.

They get a stamped dot in their daily folder to show they earned the reward and I like that it can’t be duplicated by kinder hands.

Small regular dice & large foam dice

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - You won't go wrong with a large set of dice that make playing math games fun. You'll love how *quiet* these dice are. I love purchasing the small regular dice since they come in different colors. I feel as if I can buy plenty so that no matter how many games I create or download to print, I'll always have enough to store and still have some on hand for 'in the moment' teaching. I also love not panicking in case some get lost since they were a buck.


You won’t go wrong with a large set of dice that make playing math games fun. You’ll love how *quiet* these dice are. I love purchasing the small regular dice since they sometimes come in different colors.

I feel as if I can buy plenty so that no matter how many games I create or download to print, I’ll always have enough to store and still have some on hand for ‘in the moment’ teaching.

I also love not panicking in case some get lost – since they were a buck.

Baby socks

For real? Baby socks? Yes, baby socks.

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - For real? Baby socks? Yes, baby socks. I purchased for my first year of teaching when I had a house literacy center. Once I retired it I had a whole bunch of baby socks that were perfect to fit onto kinder hands as quick-slip gloves. More often we just hold them rather than actually wearing them, but my students each have one in their pencil boxes since they use them daily to erase in their calendar binders.

I purchased baby socks for my first year of teaching when I had a house literacy center. Once I retired it I had a whole bunch of baby socks that were perfect to fit onto kinder hands as quick-slip gloves.

More often we just hold them rather than actually wearing them, but my students each have one in their pencil boxes since they use them daily to erase in their calendar binders.

Another great alternative to keep in pencil boxes for dry erase marker erasers are baby wash cloths.

Marbles or puff balls

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - If you like to use a whole class reward/incentive system, then pick yourself up some marbles or puff balls from the dollar tree craft section. In order to reward the entire class, we transfer marbles from our apple jar to a "party" box {which may have also come from the dollar store}. When all of the marbles have been transferred we get to have a special class party. But perhaps you may love the idea of using warm fuzzies and these puff balls work great for this too.

If you like to use a whole class reward/incentive system, then pick yourself up some marbles or puff balls from the dollar tree craft section. In order to reward the entire class, we transfer marbles from our apple jar to a “party” box (which may have also come from the dollar store).

When all of the marbles have been transferred we get to have a special class party.

But perhaps you may love the idea of using warm fuzzies and colorful puff balls work great for this too.

Timers

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Oh, am I considered old-school for having a timer in my classroom? I use a timer on my phone for everything related to keeping me reminded of specials {yes, seriously I lose track of time}. But I purchase a few of these in order to have my students give themselves a time out. It's part of our classroom management plan, that if they have already had one think card and still haven't gotten back on track, then they obviously need more time to get it together. They learn to use the start/stop button (which I always have pre-set to 5 mins) and take the time to reflect on their choices.

Oh, am I considered old-school for having a timer in my classroom?

I use a timer on my phone for everything related to keeping me reminded of specials {yes, seriously I lose track of time}. But I purchase a few of these in order to have my students give themselves a time out.

It’s part of our classroom management plan. If they have already had one think card and still haven’t gotten back on track, then they obviously need more time to get it together.

They learn to use the start/stop button (which I always have pre-set to 5 mins) and take the time to reflect on their choices.

Placemats

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - I love bamboo and green. When I found these lime-green border placemats I knew they were the perfect solution to hiding my eye-sore science kits. I've got you hooked up with my no-sew tutorial on how I used shoelaces and pins to create a curtain above my cupboards. I also have two more hung on a wall in my classroom to create a calming wall hanging and to break up some visual space.

I love bamboo and green. When I found these lime-green border placemats I knew they were the perfect solution to hiding my eye-sore science kits.

I’ve got you hooked up with my no-sew tutorial on how I used shoelaces and pins to create a curtain above my cupboards. I also have two more hung on a wall in my classroom to create a calming wall hanging and to break up some visual space.

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - dollar tree placemats for buletin board decorations

And I’ve used fun placemats as bulletin board or wall decorations too!

Exercise bands

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Full confession here, I just bought these {like today} but you can see my plan up above on using them as kicking or fidget bands for a chair or two in my classroom. It's part of my plan on giving students the best and varied seating options within my classroom. I don't know how long they'll last, but I'm hoping to start with two chairs to test the waters. *Update* I had to add gaffers tape to the legs to keep them from sliding down, but they've held up really well!
21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Full confession here, I just bought these {like today} but you can see my plan up above on using them as kicking or fidget bands for a chair or two in my classroom. It's part of my plan on giving students the best and varied seating options within my classroom. I don't know how long they'll last, but I'm hoping to start with two chairs to test the waters. *Update* I had to add gaffers tape to the legs to keep them from sliding down, but they've held up really well!

I bought these exercise bands with plans to use them as kicking or fidget bands for a chair or two in my classroom. It’s part of my plan on giving students the best and varied seating options within my classroom.

I had to add gaffers tape to the legs to keep them from sliding down on our teeny kindergarten chairs, but they’ve held up really well!

Giant magnifying glasses

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - These insect exploring giant magnifying glasses are something that have always caught my eye. Remove the insect tweezers and you have a tool that invites reading. My kinders love using these in our big book center to explore print, sight words and punctuation. I love also using one during whole group phonics instruction when we are finding bits or chunks.

These insect exploring giant magnifying glasses are something that have always caught my eye. Remove the insect tweezers and you have a tool that invites reading.

My kinders love using these in our big book center to explore print, sight words and punctuation. I love also using one during whole group phonics instruction when we are finding bits or chunks.

Wikki Stix

You don’t really need too many more wikki stix than one pack’s worth… but I’d buy two packs to have two of each color of these sticky strings.

Wikki Sticks from the Dollar Tree for the Classroom

We’d most often use them to circle or underline rhyming words on anchor charts or on pocket charts. 

I use matching colors for matching rhyming pairs and then we’d read through our poem of the week and clap or jump on all of the rhyming words.

Headbands

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - I'm a fan of headbands for myself on special days in addition to t-shirts {wink} and I'm on the hunt for crown ones in order to give an extra reward coupon option for this coming school year. I think they feel less awkward than a hat to wear all day and I've found the same can be true for kinders. These headbands will become an option for my students to wear on their birthday.

I’m a fan of headbands for myself on special days in addition to t-shirts {wink} and I’m on the hunt for crown ones in order to give an extra reward coupon option for this coming school year.

I think they feel less awkward than a hat to wear all day and I’ve found the same can be true for kinders. These headbands will become an option for my students to wear on their birthday.

Giant fly swatters

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Grab a pair of scissors and a giant fly swatter {or three} and you'll have fun word-finding tools. Snip out a rectangle shape in order to make a word-finder. Cut out a deep rectangle including the top edge and you have a word-framing pointer. Cut out a smaller and taller rectangle and you'll have a pointer that encourages student to look for digraphs, vowel patterns in addition to other word chunks and bits you're learning.

Grab a pair of scissors and a giant fly swatter {or three} and you’ll have fun word-finding tools. Snip out a rectangle shape in order to make a word-finder. Cut out a deep rectangle including the top edge and you have a word-framing pointer.

Cut out a smaller and taller rectangle and you’ll have a pointer that encourages student to look for digraphs, vowel patterns in addition to other word chunks and bits you’re learning.

Chip and dip trays

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - Cleaning up after an art project isn't my favorite way to spend classroom time, but I've learned to simply both prep and clean up by using snack or chip trays. These are great since they wipe or rinse very clean and you can put out anything you need to pass out to a table. Pass out becomes quicker when its in a tray and clean up too, since it everything can get stacked, picked up or dumped. These last me years.

Cleaning up after an art project isn’t my favorite way to spend classroom time, but I’ve learned to simply both prep and clean up by using snack or chip trays.

These are great since they wipe or rinse very clean and you can put out anything you need to pass out to a table.

Pass out becomes quicker when its in a tray and clean up too, since it everything can get stacked, picked up or dumped. These last me years.

Plastic bins

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - I love the colors and love how lightweight they are. They allow my students to carry center materials anywhere, have no holes {so less gets lost} and make clean up much more simple when I add snazzy picture labels. I don't love that the handles break especially if I pack a bin too full of leveled books, but for the sheer number of bins I have, they are totally worth it.

I have such a love for plastic bins. Let me repeat… *Love*

If you’re browsing any photos of my classroom you’ll probably see these in the background. I haven’t seen them in our Dollar Tree recently, but they are one of the reasons I visit regularly {just in case they should appear}.

I love the colors and love how lightweight they are. They allow my students to carry center materials anywhere, have no holes {so less gets lost} and make clean up much more simple when I add snazzy picture labels.

I don’t love that the handles break (especially if I pack a bin too full of leveled books) but for the sheer number of bins I have, they are totally worth it.

Cameras

21 Classroom Things Worth Purchasing from the Dollar Tree - This is another fun way to promote students reading the room, looking for focus letters or working on finding digraphs or word patterns. These cheapy, plastic cameras are a bit harder to find but if anyone has (get them donated) old digital cameras that don't work anymore - they work too. My students "snap" {albeit imaginary} photos around the room and like the feeling of being a sneaky letter detective.

This is another fun way to promote students reading the room, looking for focus letters or working on finding digraphs or word patterns.

These cheapy, plastic cameras are a bit harder to find but if anyone has (get them donated) old digital cameras that don’t work anymore – they work too. My students “snap” {albeit imaginary} photos around the room and like the feeling of being a sneaky letter detective.

Let’s wrap it up

If you like these, then you’ll have to see what else I’ve dug up in my photo files with 17 MORE classroom things worth purchasing at the dollar tree. Yes, I will admit – I may have spent a lot of money there {wink}

Dollar tree teacher purchases worth buying

Based on what I’ve learned over the years I hope you can find some great tools {inexpensive too} to use in your classroom.

If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

More for the kindergarten classroom

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  1. The bins are back online. I’m searching for ideas. We don’t know our children’s teachers yet. Are there items in which K, 2nd, and 4th grade educators would love? We have their general school supply list, but teachers spend their pay educating our children. I appreciate any suggestions.
    SN: My husband thinks they need a glue stick factory. He sent me a picture of scissors sticking out of a glue stick. LOL :))

    1. Ooooh – back online?! That makes me excited to check out 🙂 You are so kind to ask about what to get for your upcoming teachers – yes, glue sticks are definitely something that seem to go missing (just like the socks in the washing machine). I would hold off until you can maybe ask the teacher… someone may love a class set of earbuds, or another may love extra scissors or one may be in need of paper or folders. But – you probably can’t go wrong with some chocolate, pencils and erasers to start out the year!
      – Leslie

  2. Where did you get the ring-type holder for your exercise ball in the picture where you have the exercise bands on the chairs?

  3. I love the dollar tree! i especially love the “super” ones – they’re bigger and so many great finds! Thank you for all the ideas! I use the bins as well – and also the dish pans for my center work.

    1. You’ve given me a new mission… Find one of these super dollar tree stores! 😉 I do like the dishpans for storing stuff in my teacher cupboards but I wish they were clear sometimes to better see stuff when I’m looking for something particular. Thanks for sharing.
      – Leslie

  4. Leslie, you are a Godsend! Every time I read any one of your posts I get great ideas. Thank you, merci, gracias!!! I can’t say it enough ways.

  5. Great Post Leslie! I love the Dollar Store/Dollar Tree, too. I use magnifying glasses like other people use paper clips and I never met a clipboard I could say no to. I have to say the exercise bands are new to me but I LOVE the idea. Thanks for sharing. My favorite things are light-up finger lights for reading, flash lights, totes (of course) and any small decorative thing that can be used as a math manipulative. Thanks for all the fabulous ideas.

    Marsha

    A Differentiated Kindergarten

    1. Thanks Marsha! Love what you said about a clipboard – ha! And it’s great to hear what items are your favorites… I’m right in line with the totes. I bought quite a few this year for storing snow gear sets for my kiddos.
      – Leslie

  6. This week at “my” Dollar Tree I purchased orange pumpkin-shaped ice cube trays that are 10 frames! I have been looking for ice cube trays that have the 10 frame design for a year. So excited!

  7. PS (from earlier comment)
    I saw a color word sort on Pinterest yesterday. Each color word cut out on the Ellison machine with the appropriate color. Kids sort the letters by color and then spell the words. Somebody chimed in and said craft foam letters would hold up longer and no need to lamintate/cut them. 🙂

  8. LOVE IT! I’m a big fan (dork) of the Dollar Tree too. I’m officially on the look out for the squirters and the magnifying glasses! Love how you have used them in your room. 🙂
    The Dollar Tree is also great when buying materials for the home living area. It’s amazing when you stock the kitchen with real cooking utensils and plastic plates and cups. All the kids have to cook then.
    Thanks for sharing. What a great post!

  9. So YOU’RE the reason why all the plastic bins are gone from all my local Dollar Trees! 🙂 Just kidding… although seriously I am dying to get my hands on more of these, I was only able to find six after visiting six different Dollar Trees! I LOVE the fidget band idea. Just finished reading a book about boys in the classroom for required summer reading and I’ve been thinking a lot about movement in the classroom and alternative seating- can’t wait to see your idea in action!

    Thanks for sharing Leslie!

    BTW- do you use those Dollar Tree bins just for materials storage, or also for centers? Do you have a blog post about how you organize your centers?

    ~Jessica
    Fun in PreK-1 & Kinder

  10. I love to get the Presentation booklets when they have them. Prebound poly vinyl folder with sets of sheet protectors sewn in. They make making class books quick and easy! I also (and I am soooooo excited) just found primary lined journals. I can always find regular composition books (and usually cheaper this time of year) but the ones with the picture space and the handwriting lines – hardly ever– got 20 (all they had) and am going to see if I can get 6 or 7 more (in case I have a full class or transient students).

  11. Love the camera idea! I have several old cameras I can use for this in my class. I need to make a stop at my area Dollar Trees today and pick up some other things mentioned. Thanks for all the ideas.

  12. I love those SAME EXACT BINS! And I stalk dollar trees for them! I’ve been able to find them every summer, but in my Dollar Tree it’s usually not until mid August. I start going about 2 times a week to check that way I don’t miss out on color and quantity!

  13. Love the Dollar Tree !!! Mine does not have 1/4 of the stuff yours seems to have but they get new stuff all the time. Another tip, they throw away their display signs, I just put my name on 2 darling school buses !!
    Thanks for sharing and for your great ideas !

  14. I also use the plastic drink stirrers (look in the Hawaiian themed section — they come in a pack of 8) to use as small pointers for individual reading at seats. Foam placemats make for quiet places to roll dice or use snap cubes.

    1. Great ideas Alyssa! I too have some fun pointers (smaller) to keep it interesting, but I love the idea for placements and keeping them quiet. If you ever want to share your picture with us on facebook of these in your classroom, I’d love to share it with my readers. Thanks for sharing!
      – Leslie

  15. Great list! I think I have most of these things in my classroom too! Love it! 🙂

    Mary
    Mrs. Lirette’s Learning Detectives

  16. Great list! I think I have most of these things in my classroom too! 🙂

    Mary
    Mrs. Lirette’s Learning Detectives

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