Dollar Store Christmas Tinkering Tray for Preschoolers

)How many times have you been out to the stores lately? If you’re like me, a lot. Because there’s a lot going on at the holidays. So I’m always looking for something that makes life a little bit easier with the kiddo and I’m guessing you are too. Next time you’re near the dollar store, grab some festive supplies and set up this Dollar Store Christmas Tinkering Tray for Preschoolers. It’s a fun invitation to create that’s easy to set up and gets the kids thinking about stuff other than what’s on their wish list. Oh and it buys you a few minutes to get some stuff done, too.

Give your kids an invitation to create this holiday with a fun (and inexpensive) Dollar Store Christmas Tinkering Tray.

Why Tinker?

There’s something truly magical about tinkering.  Once when I laid out a tinkering tray, I told my daughter “There are no rules. Do what you want.”  She replied “Really?  No rules? At all?” And she dove in with gusto. There were lots of deep focused moments, tongue sticking out and all.  Trial and error, spots of joy and frustration, and ultimately one very proud preschooler, showing off her creation.

But there’s even more value than just a happy preschooler (which is worth a lot!). Tinkering helps build young brains. It teaches them cause and effect, how to work through trial and error, and encourages them to make the things in their imagination a very cool reality. Like this cat tower. (Can you see it? Maybe not because I think it’s one of those things only preschoolers can see 🤣

Dollar Store Christmas Tinkering Tray for Preschoolers Supplies Needed

Here’s a list of some of the things I like to include in Christmas themed tinkering trays. Don’t stress if you can’t find the exact items, just be sure to grab a few from each category.

A Tray: Might sound silly, but a tinkering tray needs a tray. Something low maintenance that you can dump everything into. Chip trays from the dollar store work or I picked up this cute tree shaped one in the dollar aisle at Target.

Design Tools: They’re just like they sound… Pencil & paper (we love using a design journal or notebook), ruler or measuring tape.

Things to Connect: Here’s the fun part as there is no limit to what you can include and the dollar store is a great place to find stuff. Or dig through the cabinets, hit the craft stores or find some unique ideas online to build the theme of the tray around.  I started with tiny ornaments and pom poms and built from there.  Here are some ideas:

  • Ornaments
  • Bells
  • Pom poms
  • Bows
  • Candy canes
  • Recycled bottle caps
  • Toothpicks
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Blank foam dice

Connectors: Next you need something to connect stuff with.  Anything sticky or twisty or clippy works. We love adding play dough to our tinker trays because it makes a great connector.  Flexible and sturdy, it can help connect even the trickiest things like ornaments and bells.

  • Clothespins
  • Tape
  • Glitter glue
  • Rubber bands
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Playdough
  • String

Things that Measure and Enhance: Kids love measuring stuff, so these optional add-ons can make tinkering even more fun.

  • Mini tape measure {affiliate}
  • Googly eyes (Why?  Because everything is better with googly eyes, says my daughter.)

Once you’ve gathered all your supplies, just place them on the table and let the kids give it a try. I especially love leaving these trays on a side table for impromptu creativity sessions.

Love Tinkering? Check out these other projects!

Portable Tinkering Kit for Preschoolers – This portable kit filled of creative goodness is a perfect thing for busy holiday times. It’s small enough to pop in your mom-bag and kids will love tinkering away wait times at Grandma’s or a restaurant.

Tinkering Trees: Grab a few extra nuts and bolts the next time you head to the hardware store and build these Tinkering Trees. They make really great fidgets…

Or maybe you’re ready for a Mini-Maker Space at Home. Pull together a cart full of supplies Be sure to grab my handy printable or click on over to learn more.

Have fun tinkering this holiday season with this Christmas tinkering tray!Give your kids an invitation to create this holiday with a fun (and inexpensive) Dollar Store Christmas Tinkering Tray.

2 thoughts on “Dollar Store Christmas Tinkering Tray for Preschoolers”

  1. Pingback: December STEAM Activity Calendar - Left Brain Craft Brain

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