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Parent Blog


9 Dollar Store Finds to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer!

We have scoured the web and the brains of our fabulous staff to come up with 9 super-fun, super-inexpensive summer activities for you and your child! These dollar-store activities will help your child’s development by teaching them to exercise their minds and their bodies. To get the full benefits of learning, play, enjoyment, and child development out of these activities, have your child help with every step! They can help shop at the dollar store to pick out the items that are needed, help design and build each activity, and of course, they will benefit from the most fun part…participating in each activity!

1. Noodle Obstacle Course 

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What you will need:

  • Pool Noodles
  • Wooden BBQ Skewers

This activity is so simple and versatile. Children of all ages can use this activity to practice kicking a ball, crawling, or jumping over the noodles. All you need to do is stick the wooden skewers into the ground and place the skewers into the hole of the noodle to create whatever shape you want. Get your neighborhood friends together and create your own soccer game with two noodles serving as goals or set up an obstacle course and time your friends to see who is fastest! Let your child be creative and see how many games he or she can create with this activity.


2. Frisbee Tic Tac Toe 

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What you will need:

  • Frisbees
  • Shower Curtain
  • Tape

The Frisbee Tic Tac Toe game is fun for the whole family! Take a shower curtain from the Dollar Store and tape a tic tac toe grid. Use different colored Frisbees and enjoy a game of life size tic tac toe! 


3. Sponge Bulls Eye 

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What you will need:

  • Chalk
  • Sponges

This fun water activity can help your kids stay cool on these hot summer days. All you need is chalk and a few sponges for this simple, kid-friendly activity.

Draw a bullseye and assign point values to each circle of the target. You can use different values based on the age of your child. Draw a starting line and split your children into two groups. Have the kids stand on a starting line and throw the sponges at the target. Then have them add up their points to practice addition! 

For children that aren’t old enough to add, assign a different shape to each ring of the target and have them identify the shape that their sponge lands in.


4. Bubble Station 

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What you will need:

  • Kiddie Pool
  • Hula Hoop
  • Bubbles

What kid doesn’t love bubble! This bubble station will be an instant hit with the neighborhood kids and provide hours of bubble fun. Follow these easy steps to create your own bubble stations:

  1. Pour 3 large bottles of bubbles in the swimming pool.
  2. Place a hula-hoop at the bottom of the pool.
  3. Have a child stand in the center of the pool and quickly and steadily lift the hula-hoop straight out of the water over
the child’s head!

Hint: If your bubble isn’t forming it is probably because you are lifting the hula-hoop too slowly.


5. Chalkboard Magnet Activity Board 

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What you will need:

  • Black spray paint
  • Cookie sheet
  • Magnets
  • Chalk

Planning a family vacation this summer? Need some ideas for those long car rides? Try this easy $5 project that will keep your child entertained while also helping with brain development.

First, spray paint a cookie sheet or pizza pan with chalkboard paint. Second, oh wait…that’s it, you’re done! You now have a magnetic chalkboard activity board. Have your child practice writing their letters in chalk, use alphabet magnets to practice spelling, or play a fun game of tic-tac-toe. There are dozens of ways to use this versatile activity!


6. Ninja Turtle Costume 

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What you will need:

  • Roasting pan
  • Crepe paper
  • Ribbon or tape
  • Green spray paint

COWABUNGA DUDE! Your children will love the low budget Ninja Turtle costume. And the best part? It can be used year round! Just follow these easy steps and you will have a yard full of Michelangelos and Donatellos before you know it!

  1. Spray paint dollar store roasting pans in a dark green
  2. Use ribbon or tape to attach the roasting pan to the child’s back
  3. Use crepe paper to make a headband


7. Dry Erase Shower Curtain Mat

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What you will need:

  • Shower curtain
  • Dry erase markers

This activity is pretty self-explanatory which means it is also super easy! Tape a shower curtain to the floor or yard and let your budding artist go to work with dry erase markers. When your child is finished playing, simply wipe the shower curtain clean to use for another day.

You can also use the shower curtain to create a giant play mat. Use a permanent marker to draw roads for your child’s toy cars.


8. Sensory discovery bottles

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What you will need:

  • Plastic bottles
  • Fillers: straws, glitter, sand, seashells, beads, feathers, etc...
  • Hot glue gun

Sensory discovery bottles are a great way for a baby or a toddler to safely explore materials that might be a choking hazard (or otherwise unsafe for little ones). Discovery bottles can also help children safely explore sounds, sight, color, and different themes. If your child does not like to feel sensory materials or get their hands dirty, these bottles are a great way for them to begin to explore new materials. These bottles can also be used as a tool for taking a break or calming down. Encourage your child to give it a shake and watch until all the inside materials settle back down.

The sky is the limit to what you can put in your discovery bottle! Try a beach theme with water, sand, and seashells. Or make an alphabet discovery bottle and have your children spell out different words with the letters they see. Make a sink or float discover bottle to help kids understand weights. See instructions for sink or float discover bottle below:

  1. Place items that are heavy enough to sink in water, like marbles, into an empty plastic bottle
  2. Place items in the bottle that will float, like straws that have been cut into little pieces
  3. Fill the bottle with water 
  4. Seal the lid shut with hot glue (and tape for extra measure)
  5. Let children predict what will happen and then shake the bottle vertically, horizontally and upside-down. Children should be able to see which items float to the surface and which items sink

See more discovery bottle ideas at http://familylicious.com/how-to-make-science-discovery-bottles/


9. Giant airplanes 

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What you will need:

  • Poster board
  • Packing tape
  • Stickers
  • Markers

Children like to make paper airplanes. They will love making GIANT paper airplanes! All you need is a poster board and packing tape (and of course some fun stickers and markers to decorate!) 

  1. Fold the giant paper airplane the same way you would a regular sized paper airplane. 
  2. Use clear packing tape to reinforce the folds so the airplane doesn’t come apart. 
  3. Have your child decorate their paper airplane to make it uniquely theirs.
  4. Take the airplane outside and let it fly!

And remember, paper airplanes are not just an art activity, they are also a homemade toy that exercises a child’s body and mind.