The Dollar Tree is often a teacher’s best friend when you are teaching on a budget. Here are a few of my favorite items from Dollar Tree that can be used year after year, but hurry because some items are seasonal!
I love inflatable globes because they are so lightweight and they can double as a ball. Use a paper clip and piece of string to let it hang from the ceiling. I attach an unfurled paperclip to the inflation valve, and then a string to the paperclip. Globes from the Dollar Tree are pretty bouncy, even on the carpet, so they are great for singing games like “Bounce High, Bounce Low” as well as rolling and passing songs. Here’s a list of passing games from Beth’s Music Notes. The Dollar Tree also has a colorful US map that’s great to use for folk songs.
Dry Erase Dice – DOWNLOAD THE FREE LABELS BELOW!
These dice are great for choosing one of the 4 voices to use for a song. Label them with speak, sing, shout, and whisper. For the two remaining sides, you can use inner voice, student choice, or label it with a silly voice like “ant voice” or “opera voice.” On a second die, you can label the sides with tempo words, dynamics, or movement ideas. Roll as many criteria as your students can handle. For example, you can roll the Voice Die with the Movement Die and students could end up “swimming” while they whisper a chant.
I’ve made some voice labels that can be easily taped onto the dice. Find them for FREE here on TeachersPayTeachers! A great storage idea is to use a small container (also available at the Dollar Tree) to store the along with the extra labels.
These are great for centers, BINGO chips, manipulatives, snacks, and pretty much anything else you could possibly store in a small box. I love how they are translucent and stackable. Kelly from RhythmicallyYours has warned me that they are a Back-to-School item and you won’t be able to find these year-round at most Dollar Trees! They are also much easier to seal and store for students than zip-top bags. You can color-code them for different activities or grade levels. Check out the different types of games RhythmicallyYours has in her Etsy shop, many of them use these small containers!
I made the mistake of buying foam board at a drug store instead of the Dollar Tree this year. The foam board at the Dollar Tree was brighter and 1/5 of the price. I found them hidden away in a corner after I asked another teacher at the checkout where they were. She was holding about 30 boards and had a huge smile on her face! These are great for creating props and signs for performances. Here’s an example of some props I made for a production of Schoolhouse Rocks Jr. I used black glitter from Wal-Mart for the words and they looked much better on stage than in this photo.
Using glow-in-the-dark bracelets for The Aquarium from The Carnival of the Animals was one of my favorite activities from last year. It was inspired by a Facebook post from Kim Mucha. In the morning, I snapped the bracelets and taped them into a fish shape. They retain their glow for the entire school day and then go home with my last class. Once the lights go out, all you see are bright, glowing fishes, so the tape doesn’t have to look super tidy. It also helps to get the room as dark as possible.
Here’s how we move to the music. The fishes freely swim around the room to the music and when the piano melody descends, the fishes swim to the ground to “sleep.” The children also naturally went into little sleeping pods and laid their fish down in circles with other fish which was super cute. When the melody starts up again, the fishes resume swimming. Even my 3 and 4–year-old students were able to differentiate between the different sections. As the piece ends, the fishes swim over to a basket for clean-up.
There are so many cute stickers, including ones with googly eyes. Just be careful when a pack says it contains hundreds of stickers. Usually, the first page will have larger stickers and the pages underneath will have teeny ones. I love watching them carefully pick the one they want (when we have the time). I’ve also presented students with the option of a sticker or a square of bubble wrap. They almost always choose the bubble wrap!
These start appearing in late spring and are usually gone by the end of July so you have a short window! You can use them to make pool noodle scrapers or ponies for galloping around the room. Tracy King has great activity ideas for noodles!
I hope you are able to find some fun and useful teaching tools at your local store. I’d love to hear what your favorite items are in the comments!