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Dollar Store Deals for Preschool Days {and toddlers, too!}

If you read this blog often or know me personally, you probably know that I love a good bargain!  Not only do I enjoy being a good steward of the finances entrusted to us, but I also really enjoy helping others save money, too.  So, as a follow-up to Free Resources for Teaching Pre-K at Home, I thought I would share with you all of the deals we have found at the dollar store that we currently use in our homeschool preschool.

Here’s a great big list of our favorite dollar store deals, as well as  ideas on how to use them for toddlers and preschoolers, whether you are homeschooling or just want some fun early childhood learning activities to keep the kids occupied. 🙂

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~ Learning Tools ~

 

Workbooks – If you get lucky, you might find preschool and toddler workbooks in the book section of your local dollar store.  Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, use this mom’s idea of putting worksheets into protective sleeves and use dry erase markers so that they can be used multiple times – genius! 🙂

Dry-erase workbooks (Shapes & Colors and Numbers) – I love that we can use the dry-erase workbooks pictured below these over and over again. What a deal for only a dollar!

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Dry-erase writing practice board – We found one of these several years ago at a dollar store.  It looks like a sheet of handwriting practice paper but is made of dry-erase board material.

Sidewalk Chalk – You can buy a whole box of sidewalk chalk for a dollar and use it for all sorts of learning fun.  Here are some ideas to choose from:

Shape Hop which could also become number hop, alphabet hop, color hop – you get the point. 🙂

Alphabet Squirt

Foam puzzles  – Our son is more of a musical and tactile learner, from what I’ve observed so far.  So these foam puzzles for letters and numbers are a great dollar deal for him!  Our daughter really enjoys them, too, and she has learned several letters on her own just from playing with them.

Small board books – I always look for these dollar store deals.  Sometimes I give them as gifts, but often I find books that help teach early childhood concepts such as shapes, colors, letters, numbers, and so forth.  We also enjoy any books including nursery rhymes since rhyming is an important reading skill and bible stories, which seem to be easy to come by at our local dollar store.

Flash Cards – We play fun games with these alphabet flashcards and colors & shapes flashcards.  Sometimes we play Go-fish with them (you will need more than one set of alphabet).  We also play a game where they get to run to me from across the room and get the card after they recognize it (and then I ask them to recognize it again when we put them all away).  We play jump on the correct flashcard, run to the correct card, and even swat the card, a modification of this mom’s idea (which is by far our son’s favorite!).

dollar store deals flashcards, cheap homeschool learning tools, frugal homeschooling

Fake money – This is on our list of things to buy.  Our kids love counting money, and at the same time they begin to learn the names of the coins!

Magnetic letters –  Our daughter is really catching on to phonics lately, so the magnetic letters are great for showing her how to build words!  You don’t even have to use them on the fridge -if the homeschool area in your home lacks a magnetic surface, just grab a cookie sheet. 🙂  Use for letter recognition, letter matching, and word-building.

 

 

~ Basic Craft Supplies ~

Pipe Cleaners – Aside from everyday bendy fun, they can be used for color sorting, patterning, bending into shapes, numbers, or letters, and other various craft projects.  I created some pipe cleaner letters (both uppercase and lower) for our tactile learner that we use for matching games or letter hide-n-seek, which works really well for twins.  Just make sure the hiding spot isn’t too difficult!  Your children might also enjoy these pipe cleaner activities:

Pipe Cleaner Counting Beads

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Pom-poms – We love pom-poms!  They can be used for color sorting, patterning, size sorting, counting, and many other crafts.  Try an activity like this one:

Pom Pom Counting

Colored wooden craft sticks (popsicle sticks) – If you get lucky, you might find these colored craft sticks at your dollar store.  We use ours for color sorting using these color mats, counting, patterning, creating shapes or letters, etc.

Colored card-stock/index cards – I bought some colored card-stock and a pack of index cards at the beginning of our preschool adventure, and I’ve used almost all of the index cards already.  I use them for all sorts of things, but mainly for creating my own flashcard sets like the one found here or counting cards like these. I like mounting the index cards to cardstock to add a little color around the edge and to give them more stability.

Foam Shapes – Usually you can find some sort of foam shapes in the craft or learning section of the dollar store, as well.  We found some great primary colored circles to use for sorting, counting, patterning, etc.

Small, chubby markers – I love the set we found at our dollar store because they are washable and the size fits our preschoolers’ hands much like the oversize crayons do.  The size makes it easier for toddlers and preschoolers to maintain a correct grasp.

dollar store deals, crayons, markers, homeschool, preschool, toddlers

Miscellaneous – Large crayons, construction paper, hole punch,scissors, glue sticks, paints,dry erase markers, and more can all be found at the dollar store.  The only reason I mention them is that they often cost more at other stores than at your local dollar store (unless it is back-to-school season).

 

 

 

~ Fun Stuff ~

Small party favors – I found some tiny cars for our son and some pretty beads for our daughter, but any small objects will do (just be aware of choking hazards!).  Use them with your counting cards, mentioned above.  The next time we go to the dollar store, I hope to find some bugs and a few other small things. These dollar store deals are great for counting fun, beginning math, sorting fun, and more!

Marbles – Marbles provide sensory fun for kids of all ages, but for our home preschool we mainly use them for counting.

dollar store deals, seasonal items, cheap homeschool supplies,  early childhood education

Seasonal items – We’ve found lots of seasonal foam stickers such as the fall leaves pictured above.  They can be used for sorting, matching, counting, etc.  Our preschoolers also really love any learning activity that involves Easter eggs, for some reason.  Here are a few from pinterest that you might try for learning at home:

10 Easter Egg Numbers and Letters Games

Easter Egg ABC Match-up

Easter Egg Sight Words and more

Bingo Markers – We use these for do-a-dot sheets like the ones found here or for creating our own patterns.

Playdoh – Playdoh is amazing for building those fine motor skills and (bonus!) it’s just a lot of fun to play with! Use a variety of colors for homeschooling by creating letters with these playdoh mats or shapes with these playdoh mats.  Or take a step back from directed instruction to allow for some free play time.

Straws – They are so versatile for early childhood education (and beyond)!  We use ours to compares sizes (bigger than, smaller than), to form letters and shapes, to count, to create patterns, and so forth.  You can even cut them to short lengths and string them on yarn for fine-motor skill fun.

Stickers – Put them on letters, use them for matching games or counting games.

Stamp sets

Clothespins – Use them for all sorts of toddler or preschool learning fun.  Try any of these ideas from pinterest:

Clothespin Color Match

Clothespin Counting

dollar store deals, cheap homeschool supplies, early childhood education, preschool, toddler

 

 

To be honest, most of our preschool/homeschool supplies have come from the dollar store since we are trying to homeschool as frugally as possible.  I’m thankful God has provided for us this year as we teach our twins preschoool at home.

If you have any other great dollar store finds for early childhood education or homeschooling, leave a comment and let us know!

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: Serenity Now, Wholehearted Home

You may also find me linking up at any of these lovely places.

 

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15 Uses for Baby Wipes

mama mondays2

I’m trying something new here on the blog.  On Mondays, I will be sharing advice, tips, stories from my years of parenting.  If you aren’t a mama, perhaps you could pass what is written on to a mama you know who could use it!  So, for the next few weeks, join us for Mama Mondays!

As an avid couponer, I am often able to buy baby wipes for free or very cheap (usually free!).  If you live in an area with a Kroger store, you may be able to find wipes for free this week with a printable coupon on coupons.com!  In our household, we make every effort to live a frugal lifestyle because we live on one income (my husband’s) and he is a full-time minister.  Because wipes are much cheaper than paper towel and other harsher cleaning products, I’ve learned to use them for many purposes that have nothing to do with babies.  Although my two youngest children are now toilet trained, I continue to buy wipes for everyday use!

Even if you prefer to a more all-natural lifestyle, you can still use these ideas with homemade baby wipes. They are easy to make and still gentle enough for little hands!  Want to learn how to make homemade baby wipes?  It’s really simple.  Check out this pinterest board for tutorials.

baby wipes

  1. Keep some on hand for guests in your home who might have babies or toddlers.  Nothing is worse than running out of wipes when you are away from home!
  2. Remove make-up before bedtime.  Baby wipes are convenient and very gentle on the skin, but do a great job of removing mascara and the like!
  3. Clean messy hands of all ages, even adults. Something about seeing a grown man reach for a baby wipe makes me smile. 🙂
  4. Wipe off the kitchen table after meal or snack time. Since I’m usually already using a wipe to clean off messy preschooler hands, I use the other side of the wipe to quickly go over the area of the table they were sitting at.
  5. Use them on the kitchen counter for quick clean ups!
  6. Help small hands do chores such as wiping off the bathroom sink.  I don’t want my young children to use cleaning fluids that could harm them.  Wipes are gentle enough for them to handle and they are thick enough to withstand some scrubbing.
  7. Help small hands learn to dust. Again, no need to spray harsh chemicals!
  8. Keep a package of wipes in the car for messy hands, faces, etc. while you’re on the go.
  9. Clean electronic surfaces.  They are not too wet, so they won’t leave water behind.
  10. Remove spilled food or drink from clothing before it leaves a stain!  I love taking care of stains right away in order to avoid more work later. J
  11. Remove paint or washable marker from unwanted surfaces. Unfortunately, most permanent marker is another story….
  12. Clean off dirty patio furniture. Want to have an impromptu outdoor meal?  Send your oldest child outside with a wipe or two to make sure your patio table is clean!
  13. Spot clean living room furniture.  Again, if you can get to a mess right away, it’s less likely to create a stain that will be difficult to remove later on!
  14. Remove stickiness from children’s hair when a bath isn’t an option.
  15. Clean off pet paws when coming in from a muddy yard.

Although these are the main uses we have for baby wipes, I’m sure there are many more!  Have an idea?  Please share with us in the comments!

Jen 🙂

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