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Clever Back to School Hacks Using Dollar Tree Items

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Yellow school supply caddy with pencils, markers, scissors, crayonsUpdated: July 2, 2019

If you’ve been to Dollar Tree lately, you may have noticed that their $1 back to school items are starting to take over the shelves where the summer items used to be. We’ve got some clever hacks for you to try using Dollar Tree items that’ll make back to school time a breeze!

1. Create a portable homework station.

Dollar Tree Back to School hacks – make a market and scissors stationThese colorful craft caddies are perfect for portable homework stations – just fill with pencils, pens, glue, scissors, rulers, markers, and other essentials. Then you can easily transport the caddy from the office to the kitchen table – or even take it in the car filled with coloring supplies for long road trips.


2. Keep paperwork and folders organized.

organizer with folders and papersGrab a dish drying rack for just $1! Then stand the folders up in the slots, and you’ll be able to see and grab the folders you need. Place pens and scissors in the flatware holder.


3. Make packing lunches easy.

organize lunch foods in easy to find containersGrab a laundry basket (or any of their awesome bins!) and create lunch packing stations in your pantry filled with all of the essentials you’ll need – peanut butter, jelly, bread, snacks, drinks, Ziploc bags, etc.


4. Skip expensive lunch ice packs.

use sponges as ice packsBuy a few 2-pack sponges at Dollar Tree, and soak the sponges in water. Place one per Ziploc bag, and put them in the freezer. As the sponges melt, they reabsorb the water, so you can just toss them back in the freezer after school!


5. Keep school lunches fun.

Dollar Tree Back to School hacks – bento style containersDollar Tree sells cute Bento-style containers that are perfect for school lunches! Look for 10-pack mini containers that are useful for condiments and can be placed inside another, larger container.


6. Add bling to school lockers on the cheap.

Dollar Tree Back to School hacks – cute locker itemsDollar Tree has A LOT of great items for decorating school lockers: mirrors, dry-erase boards, glam fur (locker carpet), washi tape for decorating, picture frames, colorful pencil cups, magnets, double-sided signs, and MORE!


7. Pay a buck for student planners.

Dollar Tree Back to School hacks – student planner and markersIf you’ve ever had a child lose their $30 student planner 🙋 during the first month of school, you may be glad to find these colorful and practical Student Planners for just $1 each! Score!


8. Store Box Tops in magnetic tins.

Dollar Tree Back to School hacks – magnetic tins

If you’re looking for an easy way to collect your Box Tops, grab these Magnetic Tins 2-packs with removable lids. Just place on your fridge and add to it every time you clip a Box Top!

Hip Tip: Box Tops are an easy way to earn money for your child’s school! Visit the Box Tops 4 Education website for more details on how the program works.


9. Make a mini first aid kit.

Dollar Tree Back to School hacks – mini first aid kitsMake a mini survival kit with a plastic container or sunglasses case for your child’s backpack. Fill with band-aids, facial tissue, wet wipes, feminine products (if applicable), hair ties, and emergency contact information.

Hip Tip: If you’d rather not create your own kit, Dollar Tree also sells a First Aid Kit that contains an assortment of 18 bandages and two antiseptic towelettes.


10. Create your own clothes organizer.

Dollar Tree Back to School hacks – clothes organizerHave their clothes ready for each day of the week! Grab five colorful bins and a bag of zip ties at Dollar Tree – $6 total. Use a couple of zip ties to hold them together, and tie them to your closet rod using zip ties.

Dollar Tree Back to School hacks – clothing organizer binsPlace these bins on the floor of your kids’ closet and write the day of the week with a dry erase marker (non-permanent) or a permanent marker. Your kids can grab their clothes out of the bins without any fuss!

And since Dollar Tree sells a TON of awesome, colorful storage bins, you can even choose a different color for every day of the week! 🙂


11. Make math practice more hands-on.

Dollar Tree Back to School hacks – math practice tray

Grab a vegetable tray and a bag of stones/rocks, as well as flashcards. Place all of the stones in the middle of the tray and the cards in the outer compartments. Then have your child place the correct amount of stones in the correct spot(s). If you’re looking for a fun way to teach fractions, check out this “Fractions of a Whole” Game!


12. Stock up on supplies for projects NOW.

Dollar Tree Back to School hacks – stock up on poster board, markers, and paper Grab a few Presentation Boards, as you never know when your kids will need them during the year! Similar display boards sell for over $3 at Target, so you can save BIG on these items at Dollar Tree!

Hip Tip: In the past, presentation boards found at the Dollar Tree have been slightly smaller than the ones found at other retailers such as Target. Although the difference appears to be less than an inch this year, take your own in-store measurements if your child’s project has strict size requirements.

Need poster board? Dollar Tree sells Poster Board 2 for $1, so grab a few for those school projects, too!


Join The Discussion

Comments 22

  1. TACKLENO

    Please don’t use tool kit/boxes for lunch, they’re made with chemicals not suitable to hold food.

    • Klp

      I was going to say the same thing! I love the idea but worry about the quality of plastic and if it’s safe for food.

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Thanks for the tip. Because this isn’t necessarily food grade plastic, please use your best judgement.

  2. Susan

    just a heads up on the presentation boards. they are smaller than the office supply store ones. my kids school during science fair required students to purchase a presentation board- the larger ones from office supply stores. during the science fair display in the multi purpose room, it was painfully obvious which kids didn’t follow instructions 🙁

  3. Dana

    Not a fan of the advice with the tool storage boxes….PLEASE do not eat from these. They are not meant to be used as food storage 🙁

    • ana

      I was going to say the same thing. Can I also add not to fill these with little bite size items and give to young children in the car?

      • ana

        I’m sorry if it sounds nit picky, I don’t mean it that way at all! They make really great quality (stainless steel) containers for kids and I think it’s worth paying more to know that they are safe. 🙂

        • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

          Thanks Ana 🙂

  4. Y

    I just came here for the comments. I saw the thumbnail and knew it would be a good time… 🍿 🍿

    • cat

      LOL me too!

  5. Liz

    With all due respect, if you have to put a disclaimer on a hack relating to food safety for children, it’s probably not a very good tip.

  6. Kpia

    Wow… How about saying, “thanks for the awesome ideas,” instead of all of the negative comments.

    • Y

      Scrolling past isn’t as fun as being anonymously sanctimonious and pretending you know something everyone else doesn’t. But we still drink out of the garden hose in a pinch 😉

  7. Shannon

    I like the clothes bins to set up each day of outfits. I really need to do this. My kid refuses to pick out his own clothes and get dressed unless I lay out the clothes before hand. And my daughter takes forever to decide what she will wear and everything that I pick out “isn’t pretty enough”. Ugh it’s a miracle that we make it to school on time!!

    • Nicole

      I’m so glad it’s not just my daughter who does this LOL!!! I started doing this hanging organizer idea a few months ago during the school year and it works great! We pick out her clothes for the whole week together on Sunday evening.

    • Kate

      My daughter says the same exact thing !

  8. tiffany

    I really like the idea of the clothes organizer. Going to try this with my little one, thanks!

  9. Tina Matteson

    I love those little plastic tool storage boxes for keeping my earrings and other small jewelry items when traveling!

  10. Queenjen87

    I was quite happy today as I ventured out to a Kmart and at least in store they had 100% back in points wby $10+ up to $50 in their smart scense ect brands. So I got antibacterial wipes, tissues, paper towels, sandwich bags, and hand sanitizer for back to school (and a pack of diapers and mega pack of wipes) for $50 and got back $50 🙂 good way to make the most of your money for back to school shopping. Ends today I believe.

  11. Dee

    Those hardware storage bins are great for storing earrings, pins and other jewelry. I have several and they last forever, don’t spill in your luggage and it’s easy to see which pair you want.

  12. Susan

    I use a small canning jar for my box tops. It sits by my spices. I picked a bunch of them at Goodwill on sale and it serves a purpose.

  13. Mama6

    Thank you for the wonderful ideas! I love the homework station, snack bin and clothing bin ideas 🙂

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