7 Dollar Store MUST-HAVES & 5 Dollar Store DON’TS
If you’re anything like most teachers, you could single handedly keep the dollar store in business. AMIRIGHT?? Several times a month I find myself wondering the aisles of my local Dollar Tree scooping up goodies for my classroom. Over the years, I’ve perfected dollar-store-teacher-shopping to a science. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. So I wanted to share my wisdom with you so you can maximize your teaching dollars. Because, let’s face it….even a few bucks make a difference!
(All items pictured in this post could be found on Dollar Tree’s website at the time of this post. Keep in mind that their stock changes regularly!)
1. Borders- I’ve had great experience purchasing borders at Dollar Tree. They’ve really come out with some cute designs and if you’re in a pinch–or don’t live anywhere near a teacher supply store like me!!–these are cute, reasonably sturdy, and colorful.
2. Coding Dot Labels- I love, love, love these for labeling AR books! In my personal experience, these are great quality and stick really well. I love that they come in neons too, because that’s kinda my thing. 😉
3. Math Manipulatives- You can’t beat the dollar store for foam dice, dominoes, playing cards, or standard dice. They are every bit as good in quality as name brand versions. And since kiddos seem to lose them all the time, the price is just right!
4. Die Cuts- These die cuts are too cute! I really wish they would come out with even more options. I used the worms for a “Bookworm” display in my classroom library.
5. Foam Craft Shapes- In our art center, we have a collage box with lots of odds and ends for students to create open-ended projects. These foam pieces are super affordable and easy to glue down on the kids’ masterpieces. They don’t have adhesive backs like their more expensive counterparts, but they serve their purpose just fine!
6. Party Favors- As far as I’m concerned, these little treats are the best thing since sliced bread. Fill up your treasure box with them and the kids will go bonkers! Or add them to goody bags for your students’ holiday gifts. Parents hate them, but teachers love them! 😉
7. Tissue Paper- I never buy tissue paper ANYWHERE except the Dollar Tree…even for my home use! I love the variety of colors and the price is amazing! My favorite is when the dollar store offers pre-cut tissue paper squares in packets. They’re about 2 inches square and are perfect for crafts. I’ll confess I wipe out the display when these come along!!
Dollar Store Don’ts
- Decorative Tape- I was so excited the other day when I noticed that my local dollar store had decorative tape. I bought SEVERAL rolls because I use Washi tape for EVERYTHING. This was a big BUMMER. In fact, it went straight in the trash. It feels more like dried up masking tape…kinda crunchy, not very sticky, almost brittle. I was heartbroken and will be buying REAL washi tape from now on!
2. Pencils- I know it’s tempting because, darn it, they come in so many cute designs and bright colors. But I can’t in good conscience suggest that you buy pencils from the dollar store. When you sharpen them, the paper cover just peels right off…and continues to peel in annoying ripples. Stick with quality #2 pencils. Ticonderoga are my personal favorites and they are now available in rainbow colors! (affiliate link)
3. Paint Brushes- Unless you plan to paint a bearded lady, I don’t suggest buying paintbrushes from the dollar store. The bristles come out CONSTANTLY. There’s nothing worse than picking bristles out of a masterpiece. Seriously. Take my word for it!
4. Crayons- I confess I am a crayon snob. I don’t give anything but Crayola the time of day. So those cheap, waxy dollar store crayons just aren’t my thing. Maybe you can handle them. But I JUST CAN’T.
5. Playdoh- Again, I’m a brand snob when it comes to modeling dough. I’ve never had a good experience with dollar store dough. It’s generally dry and crumbly and doesn’t have a very long shelf life in my classroom. If I purchase play-doh, it’s the name brand stuff. But in all honesty, I prefer a good homemade dough recipe to any store-bought kind. In fact, here’s my favorite recipe!
What are you favorite dollar store finds? And what do you avoid? Leave me some ideas in the comments!