Inexpensive Dollar Store Physics Activities for Kids

Dollar store physics (or physical science) activities make energy lessons pop! Try these energy and wave projects for some inexpensive and purposeful fun!

Ms. Sneed Grabs Some Dollar Store Physics Stuff

After a quick lunch, our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, headed to the local Dollar Tree. “Let’s grab a few things for our physical science unit,” she said to her teaching partner.

As she drove, Mr. Frank pulled out his phone. Quickly, he searched the NGSS energy standards and read them aloud:

4-PS3-1 Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.

4-PS3-2 Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.

4-PS3-3 Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide.

4-PS3-4 Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

Keeping the standards on his screen, the pair stepped out of the car. “Time to grab some dollar store physics stuff!”

Speed & Energy Dollar Store Physical Science

As Ms. Sneed walked down the toy aisle, she found her first prize. “Hot Wheels track for just $1!” she said. Nearby, Mr. Frank found three cars for $1 as well.

“The kids will love exploring speed and energy with these dollar store physics finds! If we set the activities up in stations, we won’t need to buy as much” he said as he threw two packs of cars into the cart. “Kids can just rotate through the activities in their lab groups.”

Kids use Hot Wheels tracks and cars to learn about gravitational energy and speed.
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Nearby, Ms. Sneed found a selection of pinwheels. “The faster they blow, the faster these spin.”

In this dollar store physics activity, kids blow onto a pinwheel.

Around the corner, he heard Ms. Sneed yell, “Score!” She held up a Cyclone flyer. “Maybe we’ll move the stations outdoors,” she said slyly.

When kids use the Cyclone Flyer from the dollar store, they can study kinetic energy.

Transfer of Energy Dollar Store Physics

“Now let’s look for some dollar store physics stuff related to transfer of energy,” said Mr. Frank. First, he walked to the household electronics. There, he found some miniature flashlights and batteries.

“We’ll need these for that light activity that asks kids to bounce light from one mirror to another,” he said.

After he threw them into the cart, Ms. Sneed guided it to the cosmetics area. “Look at this!” she said.”These suction cups will make the mirror stay put.”

In this dollar store physical science activity, kids use mirrors with suction cups and a flashlight. They bounce light from one mirror to the other.

“What kind of dollar store physics stuff can we find for sound?” Mr. Frank asked. As they headed back to the toy aisle, they found the answer: harmonicas!

Kids experiment with pitch using a harmonica from the Dollar Tree.


“Now on to collisions,” said Ms. Sneed. “We need some felt for the kids’ miniature pool tables. Do you think they’ll have that?”

Sure enough, they found rolls of felt in the crafting aisle. Additionally, they located wooden skewers to use as pool cues and marbles to use as balls.

Using felt, skewers, and marbles from the Dollar Tree, kids build their own pool tables and explore collisions.

Energy STEM

Mr. Frank checked his phone. “The last standard relates to our sound STEM challenge. If I remember correctly, we need straws, string, screws, craft sticks, and screws.”

You can find rubber bands, craft sticks, string, straws, and even screws at the dollar store for your sound STEM activity.

The two teachers tooled around the store, throwing more dollar store physics stuff in their cart. Just then, Ms. Sneed looked at her watch. “Time to check out and head back to school,” she said. “Now that was a productive lunch hour!”

Mr. Frank grinned widely and nodded his head. Every day in the fourth grade with Ms. Sneed was an adventure.

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