Five Dollars, Five Ways is a series that explores a variety of activities for your kiddos based on a trip to the dollar store with a five dollar budget. We show you how to maximize a few bucks for hours of fun and entertainment!
It’s here, it’s here! Warm weather is here! School’s about to be out for the summer, and the dollar store holds a lot of possibilities for keeping the kids busy outside.
You will need (condiment) squirt bottles, a pool noodle or two, and a pack or two of sponges.
You will also need a loaf pan, pie plate, or bowl, small toys and trinkets, food coloring (if desired), spoons, flour, salt, a sensory material (such as beans, rice, etc.), and rubber bands. If you do not already have these items at home, they should all be available at the dollar store.
Activity 1: Ice Treasure Hunt
Freeze 1/2 inch (approximately) of water in a loaf pan, pie plate, or bowl. Once the first layer is frozen, add some small toys and trinkets and another 1/2 inch of water. Return to freezer until second layer is frozen. Repeat process until your container is full. Remove ice block from container. You may need to run the container under hot water to loosen the ice block. Place the ice block in large bowl, small tub, water table, or kiddie pool. Fill squirt bottles or spray bottles with warm (or hot) tap water. Using spoons and the warm water, encourage your child to dig out the treasures from the ice. You could also color the water with food coloring before freezing. (If you choose to do this, be sure that they’re wearing “play clothes” as things may get messy…)
Activity 2: Sidewalk Painting and Writing
Mix equal parts flour, salt, and water. Add food coloring and stir until well-mixed. Pour into a squirt bottle. You can use this paint to draw or write on the sidewalk or a paved driveway. When finished, your child can have fun with a bucket of water or the hose and wash the “pain”t away, or you can just wait for the next rain shower to do it.
Activity 3: Sensory Play
We’ve mentioned sensory play before here, here, here, and here. Sensory play can be done inside, but doing it outside can make things slightly easier for clean-up. Fill a small tub, water table, or small kiddie pool with water, water beads, beans, bubbles, rice, shaving cream, or sand. Add some small toys and objects, and have fun!
Activity 4: Sponge Balls
Cut sponges into strips vertically or horizontally (your preference—either will work fine). Secure the strips together with a rubber band. Soak with water, and have a water battle! Unlike water balloons, the sponge balls are reusable and won’t leave bits of burst balloon all over your yard. They also aren’t as likely to hurt when you are hit with one and are much faster to set-up and use than filling a bunch of balloons. Another option is to dip them into paint and throwing them at an old sheet to create art. A third option is to throw the sponge balls at targets or try tossing them through hula hoops to improve aim and distance perception.
Activity 5: Noodle Sports
Using a pool noodle and a balloon/ball/sponge ball, play water baseball. You can cut the noodle in half to make a shorter bat. You can also give water golf and water croquet a try!
Not feeling crafty?
The dollar store has a ton of ready-to-go outdoor activities. You can find kites, hula hoops, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, marbles, glow sticks, jump ropes, musical instruments, ribbon twirlers, balls, and water squirters.