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The Big List of Dollar Store Hacks for Teachers and Classrooms

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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!

Buy online

Main image from the Dollar Tree Website
Dollar Tree

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 up items 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.

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.

Personalize pencils

Teacher holding pencils personalized with clear tape as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
 Stacy Tornio/Printing on Pencils via We Are Teachers

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

Page of sticky notes coming out of a printer
Kimberley Gorelik/How To Print on Post-its via We Are Teachers

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

Erasers with pom poms on them
The Teaching Thief/DIY Pom-Pom Erasers via theteachingthief.blogspot.com

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

Composition notebook cut in half horizontally to create two notebooks as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
Teacher Stuff/composition books via emilystuff.wordpress.com

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

Composition book covered in owl-printed duct tape, with tape roll and scissors
The Happy Housewife/duct tape notebook cover via thehappyhousewife.com

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

Containers with sponges covered in glue
The Therapeutic Teacher/Glue Sponges via thetherapeuticteacher.blogspot.com

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

Salt shaker filled with purple glitter as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
@tinymindsdaycare/glitter shakers via Instagram

If you love glitter but hate the mess, pour it into salt shakers for kids to use instead. 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!

Never lose a glue-stick cap again

Colored dots sheet
Classroom Tested Resources/Uses for Colored Dot Stickers via classroomtestedresources.com

Do glue-stick caps magically disappear in your classroom? Are you chucking glue sticks out daily because they’re all dried out? Well, here’s a brilliant solution: Add these adhesive colored dots! Then, as soon as you find a glue stick without a lid, your students can hunt for a matching colored lid. Not only is this great for student accountability and independence, it helps improve problem-solving and color-recognition skills.

DIY privacy folders

Tri-fold boards with colored duct tape decoration as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
Undercover Classroom/privacy folders via undercoverclassroom.com

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

Crayola markers with their lids duct taped together
@planethappysmiles/marker sets via Instagram

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.

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

Classroom anchor charts hanging on clip hangers
@casadahl/anchor chart hangers via Instagram

Have lots of anchor charts? Use 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

Black storage crate turned upside-down with scissors inserted into the holes, labeled Scissors as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
morgyporgy1234/scissor storage via Pinterest

Store scissors safely with the blades pointed down by turning a plastic crate upside down and using the holes, one per pair. Simple and effective.

Use these cup caddies in so many ways

Four colorful six cup caddies as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
@dollartreeclassrooms/cup caddies via Instagram

Another great idea from Dollar Tree Classrooms. Use these fun (not to mention unbreakable) cup caddies for table supplies, marker storage, sorting bins, and more.

Turn a toothbrush case into a pencil holder

Toothbrush case used as pencil holder
Three Points of the Compass/Pencil wraps and cases via threepointsofthecompass.com

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

Metal pails labeled Sharp and Dull filled with pencils (Dollar Store Hacks)
Elementary Organization/A Bouquet of Sharpened Pencils via elementaryorganization.blogspot.com

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.

Supply them with erasers they aren’t likely to lose

A teacher's hand holding a three pack of Ticonderoga erasers as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
@mscraftyteacher/Ticonderoga erasers via Instagram

Give kids erasers that are so cute, they will make sure they don’t lose them!

Use book bins for student mailboxes

Cardboard magazine holders with children's photos on the front
Buzzfeed/Print out photos of your students via Pinterest

Line up magazine organizers or book bins for easy student mailboxes. We love the idea of adding photos to pre-readers’ boxes, like Kindergarten, Kindergarten does.

Corral cables with binder clips

Binder clips holding charging cables to the edge of a table
Wired/Binder-Clip Cable-Keepers via wired.com

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

Colorful paper bins labeled for turning in homework papers
@talesfromaverybusyteacher/turn-in bins via Instagram.com

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

Red plastic tote baskets hung on plastic hooks on a wall as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
Pinterest/Primary Gridiron via Pinterest

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

Colorful plastic paper trays attached to the bottom of school chairs
Taking It to the Next Level/Solution for Student Tables via esperanza-lopez.blogspot.com

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

Compartmented plastic case holding numbered earbuds
Inspire. Love. Learn/Ipad MGMT via Inspirelovelearn.blogspot.com

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

Homework station caddy as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom Dollar Store Hacks
Fireflies and Mudpies/portable homework station via firefliesandmudpies.com

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

Teacher using play-doh to remove glitter from a carpet

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

Hand sanitizer bottles labeled Boys Bathroom Pass and Girls Bathroom Pass
3rd Grade Thoughts/A Better Bathroom Pass via 3rdgradethoughts.com

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

Teacher holding blue and pink eraser mitts made from microfiber cloth as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
@beingmissaustin/Whiteboard Eraser Mitts via Instagram.com

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.

Use baby socks as dry-erase board erasers

A teacher tip for using baby socks as dry erase board erasers
@youmeandkindie/whiteboard erasers via Instagram.com

Be eco-friendly with this tip from You, Me and Kindie and provide your students with erasers that won’t end up in the trash bin!

Clean desks with shaving cream

Students using shaving cream to clean their desks
Minds in Bloom/Shaving Cream to Clean Desks via minds-in-bloom.com

Your students are gonna love this one! Squirt shaving cream on desks and let them draw, write, and play to their hearts’ content. GrowingRoots 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

Teacher writing over permanent marker on a white board with dry erase marker, then erasing it as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
Imagination Soup/The Best Classroom Cleaning Hacks via imaginationsoup.net

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

Plastic bin labeled Tidy Tub #4
Teaching With Aris/Tidy Tub via teachingwitharis.com

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 desktop bins to create mini Tidy Tubs for garbage and assign a student to empty them at least once each day.

Renew whiteboards with basic supplies

Teacher using toothpaste on a rag to clean a white board
WikiHow/Renew Whiteboards via wikihow.com

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 wipe on steel
List Obsessed/Uses for Dryer Sheets via listobsessed.com

Stainless steel tends to accumulate fingerprints like crazy. If anything in your classroom is made of stainless steel, clean it easily with a dryer sheet, as Southern Home Express recommends.

Try another way to clean your whiteboards

Colorful face washing pads in a circle
@lifeas_missmichael/facial pad for dry-erase boards via Instagram

Instagrammers @dollartreeclassrooms and @lifeas_missmichael shared this tip for using facial scrubbers to clean whiteboards. So simple and affordable!

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

Colorful paper plates divided into sections and labeled with fractions
We Are Teachers

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.

Play math facts War

Two decks of playing cards with four cards face up next to them as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
Brighterly/Card Game via brighterly.com

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

Hello My Name Is name tag reading 8 x 3
Multiplication Name Tags via mrelementarymath.com

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

Student with a row of flashcards
The Measured Mom/Flashcard math facts game via themeasuredmom.com

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

Fraction cards and plastic spoons as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
@mahatabet75/Fraction Spoons via Pinterest

Just like the classic game Spoons, only with an equivalent fraction twist! Learn how to play from Games 4 Gains.

Stack plastic cups

Black plastic cups with math facts and answers stacked in rows
The Kindergarten Smorgasboard/stacking cups via thekindergartensmorgasboard.com

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

Student using a wooden mallet to tap ping pong balls into a cardboard box while holding a card saying 8-3
Planning Playtime/Whack-a-Ball Subtraction Game via planningplaytime.com

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

Large foam dice with a printable Roll and Write worksheet as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
Math Geek Mama/Number Sentence Roll and Write via mathgeekmama.com

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

Beaded bracelet made using the numerals of pi with 3.141592653 written alongside
Momgineer/Pi Day Activities via momgineer.blogspot.com

What a fun way to celebrate Pi Day! String colored beads on pipe cleaners, inspired by Momgineer.

Build an engineering kit

DIY Engineering Kit for classroom
Little Bins for Little Hands/DIY Engineering Kit via littlebinsforlittlehands.com

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

Student popping bubbles on bubble wrap while tracing the letters of the name Sara as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
Coffee Cups and Crayons/Preschool name-writing activity via coffeecupsandcrayons.com

Everyone loves popping bubble wrap, so follow Coffee Cups and Crayons‘ 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

The letters J and K built from LEGO bricks, with a stack of cards
Wildflower Ramblings/Alphabet LEGO Cards via wildflowerramblings.com

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

Child's picture glued to a series of wood craft sticks and cut apart, with the letters of her name underneath
Make Take Teach/D.I.Y. Name Puzzles via blog.maketaketeach.com

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

Chart with dice numbers down one side and character, setting, and plot points across the top as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
RoomBop/Digital Dice: Roll-a-Story via blog.roombop.com

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 with various sentences written on each side
Education/Mix-and-Match Poetry Dice via Education.com

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.

Make writing practice fun

A mini etch a sketch for the classroom to help students practice writing sight words
@educatorkathleen/Etch-a-Sketch letters via Instagram

From Educator Kathleen: “Are you looking for engaging ways to practice letter, formation, handwriting, and word dictation? Grab this Etch-a-Sketch doodle. Your students will love it!”

Kick it up a notch with sight word soccer

Series of small orange cones with words taped to them laid out on grass as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
Coffee Cups and Crayons/Sight Word Soccer via coffecupsandcrayons.com

Get students up and moving while they learn with sight word soccer. Learn how to play at Coffee Cups and Crayons.

Inspire creativity with mini erasers

Mini erasers shaped like a pencil, penguin, fox, and snowman, with a notebook and pen
Sara J Creations/Mini Erasers for Learning via Sarajcreations.com

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

Toy cars with letters on the tops, put together to form words as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
@lozlovesprep/Toy car spelling via Instagram

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

Red and white striped popcorn boxes with crumpled up paper inside of them next to a clipboard with a worksheet and the word
Mrs. Jones’s Class/Popcorn Words via mrsjonesclass.com

Teacher Karen Jones shared her idea for “Popcorn Words,” a great way to read, write, and explore sight words in the classroom.

Practice spelling with colorful hair clips

A large doll with colorful hair clips labelled with letters in her hair as an example of dollar store hacks for the classroom
@teacher.pam.i.am/Hair Clip Spelling via Instagram

Here’s a super fun idea from preschool teacher Pam I Am. Build spelling practice into a hair salon play station by labeling clips with letters. Then allow students to create hairdos on a doll with the clips while spelling out simple names.

Have more dollar store hacks to share? We’d love to hear about them in our We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, don’t miss Dollar Store Science: Easy Experiments You Can Try Right Now.



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