Cheap and Easy Dollar Store Earth Science Activities for Kids

Engage, Plan, Science
No Comments

Dollar store earth science labs create a win-win situation. Kids love the hands-on activities. You love the low price tag. Grab some cheap materials and try these easy activities.

Ms. Sneed Grabs Dollar Store Earth Science Materials

Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, wanted to add more hands-on activities to her earth science curriculum. Unfortunately, her budget was running a bit low.

On her way home from school one day, she spotted Dollar Tree ahead. “Hmm,” she thought, “I wonder if I could find some dollar store earth science stuff?” Quickly, she turned into the parking lot.

The minute she entered the store, Ms. Sneed knew she had hit the jackpot. A display at the front of the store held solar lights. “Maybe I could use those when we study energy,” she thought.

Without hesitation, the teacher marched back to the toy aisle.

Layers of Rock Dollar Store Earth Science

On one of the lower shelves, Ms. Sneed spotted some modeling dough. Just $1 for four containers! “If I bought one or two packages,” she said to herself, “every science group could participate in my fossil layers lab.” She threw a few packs into her cart.

Kids use modeling dough, shells, and decorative moss to simulate layers of rock in this dollar store earth science lab.

Are you feeling “pinspired”? Feel free to pin images from this post.

As she turned into the next aisle, Ms. Sneed noticed a few craft items. “Hey,” she thought, “kids could put shells in layers created under water and moss in layers created on land. What a great way to simulate deposition and fossil layers.” Then she threw those items in her cart too.

Making Fossils – More Dollar Store Earth Science!

As she continued to wonder around, the teacher spotted some modeling clay. “Just a buck? This will work great for our fossil-making activity. But what will kids press into the clay?”

As Ms. Sneed wandered up and down the toy aisle, she noticed packages of small, plastic figures hanging in a row. “Army men? No. Jungle animals? Maybe. Dinosaurs? Definitely yes!”

In the second dollar store earth science activity, kids press plastic dinosaurs into modeling clay. Then they fill the impression with white glue.

Next, Ms. Sneed steered her cart to the school supplies. “This year we’ll try making casts with glue.” She threw six bottles into her cart. It was beginning to fill up!

Earthquake STEM – Even More Dollar Store Earth Science!

Suddenly, Ms. Sneed spied a tumbling tower game. Smaller than a typical Jenga game, this dollar store gem would work perfectly for her earthquake STEM activity. She circled back and picked up an additional package of modeling dough too.

In the third dollar store earth science lab, kids participate in an earthquake STEM activity.

Ms. Sneed Saves Some Money

As she walked toward the checkout, Ms. Sneed silently added up her purchases:

  • Earth’s Layers – 2 packages of modeling dough + 1 package of shells + 1 package of moss = $4
  • Fossils Activity – 1 package of modeling clay + 1 package of dinosaurs + 6 bottles of glue = $8
  • Earthquake STEM – tumbling towers + 1 package of modeling clay = $2

Fourteen dollars for three labs – and some of the materials could be reused.That famous teacher smile lit up her face.

Enjoy Teaching

For 30+ years, I enjoyed teaching fourth graders. Now I tell my stories through a fictional educator, Ms. Sneed. Like you, she struggles with day-to-day classroom challenges. And like you, she meets those challenges head-on. Hopefully, each of her tales will give you ideas and inspiration.

If you’d like to learn more, explore six ways to enjoy teaching. First, to survive, a teacher must organize, plan, and simplify. Then, in order to thrive, they need to learn, engage students (and themselves!), and dive in.





Brenda Kovich

Previous Post
Enjoy Teaching Fossil Layers and Evidence for Kids
Next Post
Fourth Grade Earth Science Lesson Plans with Hands-on Projects