It’s no secret that the Dollar Store is every educator’s “go to” for all things cheap and practical when it comes to planning meaningful activities for their students. Today, I’m excited to share with you 4 quick Dollar Store Frugal Literacy Activities that you can easily put together for small groups or centers!
When I’m planning practical literacy activities for my children, I’m not only looking at the cost and ease of the activity, but I’m mostly concerned with whether or not the activity is meaningful. Will my children be able to practice letter/sounds and make words? Will they be able to practice their memory words and begin to use phonics skills?
Today I’m going to share with you how in just a matter of a few minutes and less than $20, I’ve put together 4 Dollar Store Frugal Literacy Activities that meet all the criteria that I look for when planning cost-effective, meaningful literacy activities. Let’s get started!
Dollar Store Frugal Literacy Activities
Alphabet Straw Sensory Bin
Just 3 supplies needed for this Alphabet Straw Sensory Bin!
- plastic straws
- plastic container with lid
- alphabet foam puzzle
To assemble this sensory bin literacy activity, you simply cut plastic straws into 4 pieces. You can cut them smaller if you’d like but I have a crawling baby that’s on the go and I didn’t want there to be a choking hazzard issue. Once you cut all the straws into smaller pieces, place them into the plastic container with lid.
I chose 2 sets of foam puzzles, uppercase and lowercase. This gives students practice with both types of letters and gives them the option to find 2 puzzle sets at once. You can have students do one set at a time or both! I simply popped out all the letters directly into the straw sensory bin and put the lid on top and gave it a good shake!
My little kids and big kids had a blast doing this activity! My toddler was reciting the alphabet as she found the letters and my big kids were saying the letter sounds. They also decided to turn the activity into a race!
Letter Sound Boxes
These letter sound boxes are a great way to get children practicing their letter sounds with relation to the things in their environment! This activity is easy to assemble and the perfect opportunity to use a collection of small items that you might already have on hand. You can also grab bags of themed animals, characters and manipulatives from the dollar store too!
- plastic “snack lock top” containers (1 per letter)
- sharpie marker for writing the letter on the lid of the container
- bags of animals, vehicles, or character manipulatives
You can either write the alphabet letter on the top of the lid with a sharpie, or place a sticker on top instead! Then select 2-4 items that will fit nicely inside of the plastic snack container with the lid secured. These items should begin with a letter sound, with one box for each letter of the alphabet. You can see below, that was I was able to get more use out of my foam alphabet puzzles! I placed the corresponding letter in each of my letter/sound boxes.
Here’s my letter C box:
Here’s my Letter G box:
Magnetic Letters Cookie Sheet Mystery Bag
All kids enjoy a little mystery and surprise in their learning. That’s what makes this literacy activity so much fun! Just 3 supplies for this easy to assemble literacy activity!
- cookie sheet
- craft bag
- magnetic letters
My kids think it’s so cool when things are magnetic. I really think that’s what makes this activity so much fun…well, that, and they get the added excitement of not knowing what letter they will pull out of the bag next!
You can ask your children to put their letters in alphabetical order. You might also give them word lists with their spelling words, memory words, or high frequency words so they can practice building and reading words.
Alphabet Linking Blocks
What I really like about this literacy activity is how children are giving their fine motor skills a workout too! It’s so much fun to build with blocks and what a creative way to build an alphabet train or make words! Only 2 supplies needed for this literacy activity.
- plastic linking blocks
- sharpie marker
Using a sharpie marker, simply write one lowercase letter on each side of a linking block. I like to stick with lowercase letters, that way you can have children either make an alphabet train by linking all the blocks together in one straight line or they can build words. For more word building options, you can write a different letter of the alphabet on all 4 sides of each block!
*Tip- be sure to have the linking side of the block, face to the right when you write each letter on the block. This way, children are reading the letters from left to right as they link them together.
Early learners can use an alphabet chart to help guide them when building an alphabet train.
Here’s an older child building memory words. You might include a spelling list or high frequency word list for word building.
I’m so excited for you to put some pizzazz in your literacy activities because I know that not only will your children have fun but you’ll also begin to see results as they will become confident early readers!