The Dollar Tree is often a source of inspiration and a way to find manipulatives on a budget for me. Here are a few of my favorite items from Dollar Tree that are seasonal for Valentine’s Day. They started appearing on shelves in early January.
Burlap Heart Bags, Gems, and Ornaments
Holy moly did these bags take off in the music teacher world! The bags come in a 2-pack with 4 rows of 4 hearts, making them perfect for use with 4-measure songs. Check out how I use them with the song “Tony Chestnut.”
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Lots of us use beat buddies in the classroom, but if you are like me, you need A LOT of them. I have 60 Beanie Babies, but due to COVID protocols, I had them in zip-top bags and was sanitizing the bags between classes. I was able to grab these stuffies for 50 cents apiece because they are BFF stuffies and come in pairs! Check out my lullaby post on Instagram to see how I use them in my First Steps lessons!
If you are interested in a PreK or K music lesson that you can use for Valentine’s Day, try this engaging Friendship-themed lesson with activities to get your kids moving, singing, and playing! All you need are some rocks and a sheet of stickers (from the Dollar Tree of course)!
Finger Puppet Kits
I have a lot of finger puppets that I’ve purchased from Floating Down River’s Etsy shop. Whenever I pull them out the kids are instantly mesmerized. I was excited to see some finger puppet kits at the Dollar Tree this month so I picked up both designs. The first one is an animal kit with a cat, bird, bee, mouse, and dog. The second is a fairy tale set with a wizard, horse, princess, knight, and dragon.
The kits do not come with instructions so you’ll want the image on the label to see where all the pieces go. School glue is not strong enough to hold the pieces together so I used a glue gun which worked well. The openings are wide so they would comfortably fit someone with large fingers.
I love using the bee for buzzy vocal explorations, and with the song “Bee Bee Bumble Bee.” I will have the bee fly to a child and tap them on the shoulder. That is how I dismiss them one by one to line up at the door.
I also use animal finger puppets with the song, “Had a Little Rooster.” If you aren’t familiar with it, check out this blog post from The Yellow Brick Road. When using the song with my youngest students, who aren’t singing much at the beginning of the year, I lay the animals out on the ground and have them tell me which animal they would like to hear next. Although they aren’t singing, they enjoy making animal sounds. I try to have them get into their head voice with sounds from the higher-pitched animals, like the cat and bird. Since the song uses an additive form, it’s easy to remember which order the animals go once you lay them out in order. You could also assign an animal to a child and have them move like the animal. If you don’t have animal puppets, you could use animal beanie babies, or just their imaginations!
Sneak-Peek Spring Items
If you really want to plan ahead, spring items like flower pots and watering cans are also starting to make an appearance at my Dollar Tree in January. It’s not in full swing but I was able to grab a watering can and some small clay pots. Along with those, the glass gemstone rocks were out. I like to use these as game pieces for centers or Music Bingo. I’m still waiting for the river rocks to appear for a rock decorating craft.
You will also find the things you’d expect to see at the Dollar Tree, like new stickers, decor, and Valentine’s Cards. I also picked up some drawer organizers and chalk-writer pens. I find that my students are very happy with the simplest of manipulatives, so why spend more?