15 Dollar Store Activity Ideas for Toddlers | $1 Dollar Finds for Kids

Toddlers demand a lot of attention and I'm always on the lookout for ways to keep my toddler twins busy.  At the same time, it's not affordable to spend $20-30 on new toys each time I want to keep my little kids entertained!  That's why I love collecting small but useful toys, books, and activity ideas from Dollar Tree or from the dollar bins in Target.  Whenever I find something new, it goes into my secret stash in a carton.  And then anytime the kids are bored of their toys, need attention but I don't have the time, need something to keep themselves busy in the car or at a restaurant - I bring one new toy or activity out.

In this post I'm sharing 15 ideas for activities for toddlers costing a dollar from the Dollar Tree and dollar bins in Target.  For $1 and for my peace of mind  this is absolutely worth it.

Watch my video here, followed by more details in the post below:

15 Dollar Store Items for Toddlers

1.  Soft Toys
  The soft toys I have seen in other stores are minimum $5...perhaps costing lesser after using a coupon, but I found a nice teddy bear (not in the picture), a monkey, and a colorful caterpillar to add to my soft toy collection for my kids.
  This little baby doll for $1 is also great to teach body parts and for pretend play for kids!

2.  Balls and Cars
  I got this soccer ball (from Target for $1) that kids have loved playing with at the park.  They've learned how to throw, catch, bounce, and kick with this ball.
  This globe ball is excellent, it hasn't lost it's air and still bounces well after 6 months of playing with it and has clearly listed countries to teach.
  A toy car for $1 for pretend play for toddlers is great.

3.  Alphabet Puzzles
  Alphabet Sequencing Puzzle from dollar bin in Target is great.
Bonus Tip: if you want to make your own puzzle...place Popsicle sticks together, paint your picture over it, (optional: write alphabets at the bottom), then separate the pieces, and you have your own customized puzzle for kids.
  The Lacing Shapes activity has 8 shapes and 4 laces and it's great for motor skills, toddlers learn how to lace shapes through the small holes, and it keeps them busy!

4.  Balloons
  I got 15 balloons from the dollar bin in Target, I blow a couple of those once in a while to keep my twins busy playing with it until it bursts, I teach them colors, I tie some balloons with a string and hang from the fan just until they can jump and try to reach (jumping gets them tired, hungry, and sleep...WIN!!!!), and I like how these have a little metallic touch to it.

5.  Bath time bubble book
  There are bath time bubble books that are over $5 but I got this excellent book for $1 from Dollar Tree.  Been over 6 months of using it, but not a single drop of water has gone inside the book, no molds, no tearing, no colors coming off, and there's a lot of stuff in the book I can teach the kids while they take a bath.

6. Foam Mat
  I love, love, love this foam mat/foam puzzle.  Two thumbs up for it.  Great product, good quality, good colors, and lots of learning.  I have taught them numbers, colors, counting, and objects on the left foam puzzle.  I have taught them modes of transportation (air, land, and water) on the right puzzle.  I wish they had more variety of these but the store near my home carries just these two.

7.  Painting
  This is a tote bag for $1 from Dollar Tree comes with the drawing and 4 color markers that kids can paint as they wish.  If you are looking for your kid's birthday favor ideas or game prize ideas on a budget  I think this will be a great idea and fun activity for kids to color their own bag as they wish.

8.  Magic
  There are a few "magic tricks" kind of toys in Dollar Tree but my 19 month old twins are too young for it.  But these "magic towels" seem like fun for young kids -- when you put this into a bucket of water (or bath tub), this magic towel will expand into a 12x12 inch cotton towel.  Fun prints on them too--Spiderman, Avengers, etc.

9.  Books
  Lots of excellent books on several topics like animals, countries, story books, books with rhymes, and so on in Dollar Tree and in dollar bins at Target.  I picked up some Pre-K books to teach my twins alphabets, numbers, objects, shapes, sizes, sounds, colors, and so much learning for them with these $1 books!!!!!!!!  LOVE!!
  I also like books on shapes and colors that have realistic looking objects (and not just drawings) and several examples within a page instead of just a couple.  LOVE these books too - small, handy, easy to carry in my diaper bag, easy to take them to restaurant, lots of learning.

10.  Playing Cards
  I liked the print and quality of these playing cards ($1 from Dollar Tree).  I wanted to teach my twins numbers and counting.
Bonus Tip:  If you don't want to use these as playing cards, you can glue a paper on it and draw or paint whatever you want make them your own flash cards!

11.  Flash Cards
  They have Disney flash cards too at the Dollar Tree but I chose Playskool.  One set of flash cards has 36 cards and I chose one box of Colors & Shapes and one box of First Words.  Lots of learning, good quality cards, handy and easy to carry to the park, I taped the First Word cards to the wall near their crib so I could point at words once in a while and teach them when it looks like they're up for it.
Bonus Tip:  If you buy two boxes of the same set, you can place the cards face down and use it as a memory game for your toddlers!

12.  Bath time colors
  These Crayola Color Bath Dropz from Dollar Tree have 3 blue, 3 red, and 3 yellow color tablets that can be added to water in a bucket or in bath tub to create primary or secondary colors (by mix and match).  Well, in Walmart you can get a bottle of 60 tablets of these Bath Dropz for $4 so this is not exactly a great buy from the dollar store (do the math!), but if you want to get a small quantity to test as a sample for $1 then it's fine.  There has been a debate whether the chemicals and color dyes used in these are safe for children even though the product says it is non-toxic.

13.  Wood puzzles
  The $1 wooden toy puzzles are excellent to teach shapes, colors, and challenging for toddlers to put the pieces together at the right places and complete the puzzle (an ambulance on the left and a house on the right, for example).  The same puzzles are priced at $8.99 on Amazon can you believe it!??!?  See this - Educational Learning Wooden Basic Shapes Puzzles !!!

14.  Art Poster
  Two thumbs up for this Velvet Art Poster from Dollar Tree.  You get 2 posters (one 8x10" and one 10x13" and 6 color markers) for ONE DOLLAR -- can you believe it!!???  They had other patterns too last I checked.  Good to keep toddlers busy with coloring and painting, and this makes for a nice goody bag gift too!  Although it says for ages 4+ I will most likely be making my twins try their hand at this when they turn 2 and half years old.

15.  Stickers
  Lots of varieties of stickers that you can give to your kid as a reward, or your toddler can enjoy putting randomly on paper, or help your kid make a beautiful handmade greeting card with the stickers!

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