Budget taken a beating?  Don’t have time for endless prep work?  Looking for low-cost hands-on ideas that will get your kids engaged and learning for less?  Look no further!  Here are ten easy hands-on English language arts activities – all using items you can find at your local dollar store!


1) Pipe cleaner letters.  Have your children bend pipe cleaners to make the target letters.  The best part?  They can be used again and again!


2) Upper case/lower case letter matching using plastic Easter eggs.  Have some Easter eggs left over?  Write the upper case letters on one half and the lower case letters on the other.  Children can work in a group to put the eggs back together.  Matching letters too easy?  Write sight words or rhyming words instead!


3) ABC scavenger hunt.  Hide a set of ABC flash cards around your classroom and turn your kids loose.  No ABC flashcards at your dollar store?  Use themed post-its (or regular ones with themed stickers).  When they’re all collected, stick them in order on a piece of chart paper to form a giant ABC chart.


4) Play dough letters/sight words.  Have your students mold the play dough to make the target letters/words.  You can guide them by first writing out the letters/words on construction paper and then laminating it (or sliding it into a plastic page protector).

5) Match the clothespin to the ABC bulletin board strip.   Turn an ABC bulletin board strip into hands-on learning fun!  Simply make matching clothes pins by writing a letter on the end of each one.  You could have the kids match upper case to upper case or lower case to lower case (say, at the beginning of the year), or make it more challenging by giving them lower case to match to an upper case strip or upper case to match to a lower case strip.


6) Match the magnet to the ABC wall strip. Alphabet wall strips are great for decorating your walls, but even better for making lots of quick, easy and inexpensive language arts activities.  You may want to laminate first for greater longevity.  Simply spread out the strip and hand a group of children a tub full of magnetic letters.  Makes a great floor activity!  (For more great ways to use magnetic letters, check out our Top Ten Ways to Use Magnetic Letters – Hands-On Kindergarten Reading and Writing Activities).


7) Sight word name plate match-ups.  Write the same sight word on each side of the name plate.  Cut in half in different patterns to create self-correcting sight word puzzles.  You could also make ones with the names of the children in your class.

8) Foamy storiesSpice up story writing!  Give each child a foamy and let their imagination and crayons fill in the rest of the picture.  New theme?  Different foamy!

9) Sticker stories. Another great way to encourage your students’ love of writing!  Choose stickers that complement a theme, or provide a selection for students to choose one that interests them.  Either way, be prepared for a whole new level of excitement at the writing center!

10) Match the clothespin to the sight word written on bulletin board strips.  Not just for finishing off your bulletin boards anymore!  Choose strips that complement your theme.  Write a sight word on each item and a matching one on each clothes pin.  Makes a great floor activity.