Teachers know how to stick to a budget while giving students a great learning experience. Not only are we savvy shoppers, but we also love sharing our ideas with each other. That’s why we’ve put together this list of fantastic dollar store hacks. Affordable supplies make these ideas go a long way without breaking the bank!
(Just a heads up! WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
School Supplies Dollar Store Hacks
Teachers can save a bundle by buying school supplies at Dollar Tree. Here are some of our favorite supplies, plus smart ways to make them go even further.
Did you know you can buy many of Dollar Tree‘s items online? You’ll usually need to be willing to order in bulk, but you can be sure they have what you need in stock. You can pick items up at the store or have them shipped to your door to save you a trip. Schools can even set up an account for tax-exempt orders.
Turn ordinary pencils into something special with our cool trick that uses clear tape to add personalized messages! Learn how it’s done here.
Print on sticky notes
This may be one of our favorite dollar store hacks! It’s surprisingly easy to personalize your sticky notes with your printer. Find out how and get lots of free templates here.
Add pom-poms to dry-erase markers
Stop erasing writing errors with your fingers! Use hot glue to attach pom-poms to your dry-erase markers to use as erasers instead.
Cut composition notebooks in half
Get two notebooks for the price of one! Teacher Stuff shares this tip: Office supply stores can cut composition notebooks in half for you. (If you’ve got a band saw at home, you can also do it yourself.)
Dress up composition notebooks with duct tape
Whether you cut them in half or leave them whole, you can decorate composition notebooks with duct tape. The dollar store usually has lots of fun colors and patterns to try. Get the DIY from The Happy Housewife.
Swap glue sticks for a glue sponge
Place a kitchen sponge (scrubby side down, if it has one) into a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, then pour liquid school glue over the sponge until it’s saturated. Kids press items lightly onto the sponge to pick up just enough glue. Put the lid back on when you’re done to keep it fresh and refill as needed.
Put glitter in salt and pepper shakers
If you love glitter but hate the mess, pour it into salt shakers for kids to use instead, like @tinymindsdaycare. You can seal them with a strip of tape across the top.
Stop rolling pencils with straws
In about five seconds, you can stop the nuisance of pencils that roll away forever! Simply cut straws in half and tape a piece to each student’s desk. Slide the pencil (or pen) through, and you’re done! See this hack in action here.
Never lose a glue stick cap again
We got this tip from @teachingwithmisspeney, who says, “I don’t know about you, but glue stick lids would magically disappear all the time!! We were chucking glue sticks out daily, until I added these little colored dots! From then on, as soon as someone found a glue stick without a lid, they would all be on the hunt for a matching colored lid!! Not only was this great for their accountability and independence, but also for their problem solving and color recognition.”
DIY some privacy folders
Privacy folders can be useful during tests, or when kids need a safe space to calm down in a crowded classroom. Make your own in a snap by cutting tri-fold presentation boards in half. You can even decorate them with duct tape as Undercover Classroom did.
Create marker sets
Corral lost marker lids by duct-taping them all together in one set. Kids snap the markers back in when they’re done using them. @planethappysmiles says it really works!
Classroom Organization Dollar Store Hacks
You’ll find so many ways to keep the clutter under control with dollar store hacks. Check out these awesome ideas.
Store anchor charts on clip hangers
Have lots of anchor charts? @casadahl recommends using clip hangers to keep them organized. If your dollar store doesn’t have them, combine clothespins and regular hangers instead. (Get more anchor chart organization ideas here.)
Flip a crate for scissor storage
Store scissors safely with the blades pointed down by turning a plastic crate upside down and using the holes, one per pair. Simple, but effective.
Turn a toothbrush case into a pencil holder
It turns out that toothbrush travel cases are just the right size to hold pens and pencils! Label them with kids’ names using permanent markers.
Sort sharp and dull pencils
Follow Elementary Organization’s example to save time (and distractions). Create a place for kids to drop off their dull pencils and pick up sharp ones throughout the day. Assign one student to regularly sharpen any dull ones as their classroom job.
Use book bins for student mailboxes
Corral cables with binder clips
There are so many dollar store hacks that use binder clips, and this one from Wired is one of the smartest. Attach binder clips to the edge of a table, then prop the cords through the handles. See more binder clip tricks here.
Set up turn-in bins
Give kids a chance for self-assessment with these smart turn-in bins from @talesfromaverybusyteacher. They can place their papers in the bins based on how confident they feel in their mastery of the topic.
Hang plastic totes as cubbies
Here’s a good way to make use of brick walls: Attach sticky hooks and hang totes from them to create storage space. Prepping for the Primary Gridiron gets the kudos for this idea.
Attach letter trays underneath chairs
Taking It to the Next Level used zip ties to attach paper trays to student chairs, providing extra storage in otherwise wasted space. Love it!
Store earbuds in a compartmented case
Take a cue from Inspire Love Learn and store earbuds in a divided organizer. (Find lots of other headphone and earbud storage ideas here.)
Keep things organized at school and at home
Set kids up for success by creating these fun and functional homework stations inspired by Simple Made Pretty that they can use to stay on track at home.
Clean Classroom Dollar Store Hacks
It’s more important than ever to keep our classrooms clean these days. Custodial staff does a lot of the hard work, but these dollar store hacks can help keep your classroom safe and sparkling all day long.
Clean up glitter with play dough
Uh-oh! Someone spilled glitter, and there’s no vacuum handy. What’s a teacher to do? Fortunately, a little play dough is the perfect way to clean it up!
Use hand sanitizer bottles as hall passes
Hopefully, your school is providing hand sanitizer in bulk for your classroom, but you can still pick up a couple of small bottles to use as hall passes. Grab the free printable labels from 3rd Grade Thoughts and refill the bottles from bigger bulk containers as needed.
Stitch up some board eraser mitts
One big microfiber cloth is enough to make multiple little eraser mitts, as @beingmissaustin demonstrates. If you’ve got a sewing machine, you can run them up in minutes.
Clean desks with shaving cream
Your students are gonna love this one! Squirt shaving cream on desks and let them draw, write, and play to their hearts’ content. Growing Roots says that in about half an hour, the cream will evaporate off, leaving desks free of crayon, pencil, and glue marks. (This probably won’t disinfect desks completely, though, so some sanitizing spray may still be necessary.)
Remove permanent marker with dry-erase markers
Did someone accidentally write on the whiteboard with a permanent marker? Good news! Imagination Soup confirms that all you need to do is write over it with a dry-erase marker, and the alcohol in the ink will help lift the permanent marker up when you erase. Alcohol-based disinfecting wipes work too.
Set out Tidy Tubs
We’re willing to bet there’s only one trash can in your classroom. This means your students are either making a lot of trips to throw stuff out, or there’s a lot of litter on the floor (and in their desks!). Add labels to bins to create mini Tidy Tubs for garbage like Sailing Into Second does, and assign a student to empty them at least once each day.
Renew whiteboards with basic supplies
There are multiple dollar store hacks for making your whiteboards shine like new again. WikiHow recommends toothpaste, along with other options like vinegar, hairspray, muscle cream, and nail polish remover.
Polish stainless steel with a dryer sheet
Stainless steel tends to accumulate fingerprints like crazy. If anything in your classroom is made of stainless, clean it easily with a dryer sheet, as Southern Home Express recommends.
Try another way to clean your whiteboards
Math Dollar Store Hacks
From counting and math facts to fractions and beyond, there are so many dollar store hacks you can use for teaching math. They all add up to fun!
Cut up paper plates to learn fractions
You can get so many fraction manipulatives from just a few packs of colored paper plates! Cut them into sections, label them with fractions, and let kids put them together to see fractions in action.
Solve domino math puzzles
Download these free math printable puzzles from Games 4 Gains, then pair them with a set of dominoes to practice your math facts.
Play math facts War
Just like traditional war, the goal is to have the highest set of cards. In this game, each player flips two cards at once. They can add, subtract, or multiply (depending on what you’re practicing) and the highest total keeps all the cards. Learn more from Creative Family Fun.
Wear math facts name tags
This idea is so much fun! At the beginning of the day, give each student a name tag with a math fact problem written on it. For the rest of the day, everyone must refer to each other by the answer to the fact instead of their real name! Thanks to Mr. Elementary Math for this one.
Be the first to get 15 in a row
The Measured Mom invented this fun flash-card game. Build a row of cards, placing them in ascending order according to the answer to the math fact. The first to finish their row wins!
Compete at Equivalent Fractions Spoons
Just like the classic game Spoons, only with an equivalent fraction twist! Learn how to play from Games 4 Gains.
Stack plastic cups
We don’t know why kids love stacking cups so much, but they certainly do! Write math facts on some cups and answers on the others, then let kids stack away. Kindergarten Smorgasboard finds this one to be a big hit.
Whack Ping-Pong balls to subtract
How fun is this? With a shoebox and some Ping-Pong balls, you can make your own Whack-a-Mole–style game to practice subtraction! Planning Playtime, this one is genius.
Roll and Write number sentences
Dice are terrific for lots of math games, like this one from Math Geek Mama. Roll two dice, then write the number sentence for addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.
String a pi bead bracelet
Build an engineering kit
While you’re working on math, why not transition into some fun STEM experiments? This DIY Engineering Kit inspired by Little Bins for Little Hands has everything you need!
Language Arts Dollar Store Hacks
Try these dollar store hacks for fun and affordable ways to learn the alphabet, practice spelling, and work on reading!
Pop bubbles to learn letters
Everyone loves popping bubble wrap, so follow Coffee Cups and Crayon‘s lead and use it to help pre-readers master their letters. Just use a marker to write the letters, and let kids pop the bubbles underneath.
Build brick letters
We love dollar store hacks that combine learning with kids’ favorite toys. Ask kids to build letters using building bricks, following these free printable cards from Wildflower Ramblings.
Put together craft stick name puzzles
This is an inexpensive and very fun way to learn names and sight words. Use Mod Podge to glue a photo or picture to a set of sticks laid flat, and write the letters of the word underneath. Then cut them apart and let kids put them back together, learning to spell along the way!
Roll and Write a story
It can be hard to get kids to let loose and write creatively. That’s why we love Roll and Write activities! Grab one of the free printables from RoomBop (there are several to choose from). Then give each student a die to roll three times, giving them a character, setting, and plot to get them started.
Make mix-and-match poetry dice
Dry-erase dice are such a terrific tool in the classroom, and we love that you can get them at the dollar store. Learn how to use them to make mix-and-match poetry dice from Education.com.
Kick it up with sight word soccer
Get students up and moving while they learn with sight word soccer. Learn how to play from Coffee Cups and Crayons.
Inspire creativity with mini erasers
Mini erasers are another one of those supplies that have so many uses in the classroom. One of our favorites is to pull a couple of them at random, then use them to inspire creative writing activities. See more from Sara J Creations.
Spell out words with toy cars
This activity is sure to give your students the drive to learn their spelling or sight words! Thanks for the idea, @lozlovesprep.
Pop up some inspiration
Teacher Karen Jones shared her idea for “Popcorn Words,” a great way to read, write, and explore sight words in the classroom.
Have more dollar store hacks to share? We’d love to hear about them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, don’t miss Dollar Store Science: Easy Experiments You Can Try Right Now.