Kellye Fox | 

20 Summer Activities for Kids Using Dollar Tree Toys & Items

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My kids tend to play with most toys for about five minutes, whether I spend $1.25 or $30 on them. Since Dollar Tree toys are cheap, why not turn them into crafts, games, family road trip hacks, and backyard fun tools?

Merchandise isn’t always the same at every location, so when you visit a Dollar Tree, you don’t quite know what you’re getting. The good news is that the crafts we’ve come up with use standard everyday items that are typically always in stock (or available online). Some items are hard to find at Dollar Tree, but you can locate them at craft stores. Of course, if you find better replacements (aka free stuff around your house), go for it.

Here are 20 of my favorite Dollar Tree crafts that are simple to assemble and help whenever your kids get bored. While we’re celebrating inexpensive entertainment, save even more by using Dollar Tree coupons. Now, that’s my idea of summer fun.

Try these Dollar Tree toy ideas for fun summer activities for kids. And download The Krazy Coupon Lady app for more money-saving hacks. Or, text HACKS to 57299.


1. Tie a dollar store basket to the front of your kid’s bike.

A person tying a green basket to the handlebars of a child's bike

All you need is a plastic storage basket and two zip ties for this stress-free project. The baskets can be attached to little and big kid bikes. Just add a fruit snack, bubbles, and a few more Dollar Tree toys. Then you can ride into the sunset.


2. Freeze Dollar Tree toys and trinkets in water to make “ice eggs.”

A person's hands picking up a DIY ice egg with a child's toy frozen inside that is sitting on the ground next to similar ice eggs.

Stick a small Dollar Tree toy or trinket in a water balloon before filling it with water. Put the balloon in the freezer overnight. In the morning, cut off the balloon and let your kids get to crackin’.


Related: 135+ All-Time Best Would You Rather Questions


3. Turn dollar store pool noodles into a backyard obstacle course.

A person's hands placing a pool noodle onto a dowel sticking out of the ground, and a child kicking a ball through DIY pool noodle obstacles on a lawn.

Stick wood dowels in the ground halfway and slide the pool noodle on top to form an arch. Use a soccer ball to dribble between the arches, or just let them army-crawl through the course.

There are pool noodles at Dollar Tree, but I recommend waiting for in-store displays instead of buying in bulk online. I’ve seen pool noodles at Lowe’s for under $3 each.

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4. Use a pool noodle to make a DIY sprinkler.

A child playing around a DIY pool noodle sprinkler that is attached to a hose on a lawn.

What’s better on a hot summer day than running through a sprinkler? I’ll tell you what’s better — finding a cheap DIY solution using pool noodles and duct tape.

Duct tape one end of a pool noodle (the other end will have the hose attached). Use wood skewers to poke holes throughout the noodle, turn on the hose, and enjoy!

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5. Make an ice cream bar by putting sprinkles and crushed cookies in shaker jars.

A person's hand pouring a jar of sprinkles onto a small bowl of ice cream on a table next to more ice cream sundae ingredients.

After a long, hot day of playing outside, you deserve ice cream. By using shaker jars from the dollar store, you can fancy up your offerings, especially for large groups. Don’t forget to use ice cream coupons.

Here’s another tip — shaker jars are also great for holding Dollar Tree craft supplies like cotton balls, beads, and buttons.

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6. Make a “hideout” using a Dollar Tree toy and a shower curtain.

A child reading a book while laying on a DIY hideout set up in a backyard.

Here’s a craft idea that even the kids can help assemble. Use plastic shower rings to attach the curtain to the hula hoop from Dollar Tree. Then use a clothesline to tie the hula hoop to a tree branch.

Your kids will enjoy shade while they read or play games outside.


7. Use sponges and chalk to turn your driveway into a bull’s-eye target game.

A person's hand drawing the number 10 on a target of chalk, and two children throwing sponges into the chalk target.

Think of this DIY Dollar Tree craft idea as a chalk skee-ball game. Use the chalk to draw circles of various colors and sizes (starting with the smallest in the middle and working your way out with bigger ones).

Mark each circle with numbered increments, like multiples of 10. From a good distance away, throw a sponge to your desired circle. Whoever hits the circles with the most points wins!


Related: Ingenious Dollar Store Organization Ideas


8. Or make a sponge necklace as a cool Dollar Tree craft idea.

A person's hand using scissors to cut sponges into little squares, and a child smiling and wearing a necklace made of the little sponges.

Here’s a Dollar Tree craft for kids that’s cool and cheap. Cut up sponges and use a large sewing needle to string them onto stretchy cord. Soak the sponges in water and your kids will stay cool while playing outside.

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9. Set up carnival games in your backyard using Dollar Tree toys and plastic cups.

Five colorful, plastic margarita cups sitting on a table in a backyard while a child is throwing balls trying to get one in a cup.

Ready for another super-easy game using Dollar Tree toys? No adult supervision is needed, which is my favorite part. Set up a table outdoors and place five plastic cups on top. With a chosen toy, like a small ball, toss it in one of the cups. Don’t cheat though; stand at least five feet away.

Need help with easy and fun outdoor summer activities for kids? KCL has 28 tips for you!


10. Make an affordable table lantern using glow sticks, dish soap, and a Mason jar.

A person's hands putting glow sticks into a mason jar, and some mason jars filled with glow sticks glowing in the dark.

Nighttime activities just got fancier courtesy of two traditional Dollar Tree craft items — Mason jars and glow sticks. Activate the glow sticks by cracking them, and place them in the Mason jar. Fill the jar to the rim with water, and add a few drops of clear dish detergent. You now have a set of glowing table lanterns.

Just in case you’re wondering, the dish soap helps the glow sticks stay suspended. You could also add glitter for additional pizzazz. By the way, there are dozens of uses for Dawn dish soap that can make life easier.


11. Use the Dollar Tree toy finger shooters to hit a target.

A person's hand holding up foam darts in front of a printed target, and a child throwing foam darts at a printed target taped to a board outside.

Discount stores have aisles and aisles of stuff that you really don’t need, but the compulsive buyer in you has to have it. Case in point — the Dollar Tree foam finger shooters. What the heck can you do with them? Well, shooting them at a target is what (as shown). You’d be surprised how well this game keeps kids entertained.


12. Make a paint-mixing station using a vegetable tray.

A person's hand using a spoon to mix paint in a repurposed vegetable tray, each compartment with a different color of paint.

I love this idea for a quick art party. Create a Dollar Tree craft for kids — a paint palette — using a plastic vegetable tray. You can also use a veggie tray to play with “goop,” which is cornstarch, water, and food coloring. It’s easier to clean up than paint and doesn’t stain clothes.


13. Prepack “busy bags” with Dollar Tree toys to give your kids when they’re bored.

A person's hands going through several ziploc bags of toys sitting in a basket.

Instead of buying busy bags for your kids (which are way overpriced), find little trinkets at the dollar store instead. This option lets you customize based on gender, age, and interests. For younger kids, you could find sensory toys at Dollar Tree like putty, fidget spinners, and foam beads.



14. Put together a Dollar Tree craft box by filling a tub with art supplies.

A person's hands holding a tupperware tub filled with art supplies next to a wall of art and craft supplies at a store.

Whether you’re stocking up for the summer or back to school, dollar stores are the places to shop for inexpensive art supplies. Grab a plastic bin and fill it with Crayola products, paintbrushes, construction paper, and tape. Now, just let your imagination run wild.


15. Play tic-tac-toe with a dollar store toy, a shower curtain, and tape.

Two children playing tic-tac-toe with frisbees on a painted shower curtain laying on the lawn.

For just about $6 using dollar store items, you can create a giant tic-tac-toe game as a creative outdoor activity. Use duct tape to create a grid of nine boxes on a shower curtain. Throw the Frisbees to try and land on a square. You may want to place a rock on each corner so it doesn’t fly away.

There are lots of other uses for shower curtains, like repurposing it as a floor covering for painting (check out #2 for pro painting tips) and making a kiddie pool at the beach (look at #13 at brilliant beach hacks)

Related: Easy Science Experiments for Kids


16. Fill a hanging shoe organizer with things to entertain your kids on a road trip.

A person's arm reaching from the driver's seat in a car, to put a child's water bottle into a compartment of a shoe organizer that is hanging on the back of the passenger seat. The other compartments are filled with toys, wipes, and diapers.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who stocks up on Dollar Tree craft supplies and toys before heading on a trip with kids longer than 30 minutes. Use a hanging shoe organizer to fit as much junk as humanly possible, all within a close reach.

Here are more road trip hacks with kids to save your brain cells.


17. Use markers and a shower curtain to make your own dollar store craft idea — an erasable play mat.

A child kneeling down, playing with a toy car on a shower curtain that has been painted to look like a town with roads.

The magic of clear shower curtains can be repurposed into a floor play mat. Sharpies are okay to use, but for continuous play, try dry-erase markers. With a wet paper towel, your little one can draw whatever, whenever.

Discover some ways to revive dry-erase markers and playtime will never be over. Lucky for you, right? Ha, ha.


18. Have a water fight using dollar store toys and large plastic buckets.

A person's hands reaching to take a water gun from a bucket filled with water and two more water guns.

What’s summer entertainment without a water gun fight? The cheapest option is to head to the dollar store to stock up on plastic buckets with handles and jumbo water guns. Fill ’em and run.

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19. Use a butterfly net to see what you can catch.

A child's hands holding a small net and a magnifying bug catching device above some grass.

Butterfly nets and other dollar store toys (like magnifying bug catcher playsets) are great for outdoor explorers. Let them find worms, rocks, and flowers. Ask them about each and what makes them special. Or take their imagination inside letting them draw what they saw.


20. Buy dollar store toys that grow to start a fake aquarium.

A person's hand holding a toy shark above a square bucket filled with water, with a seahorse toy and starfish toy sitting at the bottom.

Magic grow creatures are truly amazing dollar store toys that just need water to expand up to 600%. In a bucket of water, add the growing toys and wait for the magic to begin. Some stores have varieties with lobsters and sharks, crab and sea turtles, or dinosaurs.

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