I bet I can get a resounding “Amen” from other parents when I say, “All hail the Target Dollar Bins”.
Seriously. I used to walk by that little section and think, “Ugh, stupid crap that no one needs. Yes it’s only a dollar, but why waste your money?”. That is, I said that before I had a toddler. These days I always take a spin through there whether Owen is with me or not. And I can not even count how many treasures I have found. $1 can buy you a LOT when you are 2.
Here’s the thing. The stuff IS cheap. It’s usually made in China and made with ingredients I wouldn’t normally choose and it’s always crap you don’t really NEED and it’s not going to last very long. But here’s what I’ve learned. Sometimes that dollar spent can get you far, far more than the most expensive wooden, educational thingamabob made with recycled materials and plant-based ink.
It’s FUN. It’s SILLY. It’s the kind of thing my mother NEVER would have let me buy as a kid, and now I kind of get a thrill from tossing it in my cart.
We had a bit of a rough weekend. The stomach bug last Thursday left a cranky, whiny kid without much of an appetite in its wake. The bug itself (temp, etc.) was pretty mild and very short-lived, but the aftermath seemed to linger. Owen was healthy, but not himself. I’m not even sure if it was illness-related, but something was bothering him for the last few days and he was NOT acting like his sweet little self. In any case, today, on our 5th straight day of being at home when we’re used to being out and about all the time, I had to whip out one of my Target Dollar Bin goodies. (Yes, I buy them and save them for a rainy day.)
And, to my surprise, we got over an hour of entertainment from that $1 toy.
Remind me of this next time I scoff at the cheap crap.
It was these little things called “Grow Capsules”. They are like little pill-shaped capsules that you put in a cup of warm water. The capsule part melts away and these little animal-shaped sponges slowly emerge.
The anticipation of what animal it was going to be was astonishing. Owen was enthralled. FOR AN HOUR.
12 times, we repeated the “experiment” and it never lost its luster. I wish I had bought 100 more.
Now we have these 12 little animal-shaped sponges that Owen has been counting and sorting by color and lining up and stacking and squishing and putting in water and drying off. He adores them. He makes them walk around together and give each other kisses. I’m amazed.
I’m thinking we might try to sponge paint/stamp with them at another time (when he’s done loving them like his own next-of-kin).
Now THAT’S a lot of entertainment from $1.
Have you ventured into the cheapo Target section or a dollar store for $1 entertainment? What treasures have you found? Our favorites are window gels for various holidays/seasons (ALWAYS at least a few hours of peeling/sticking them, moving them around, and then eventually ripping them and throwing them in the trash a few weeks later), a tube with an alligator head that makes a weird noise when you turn it upside down, and a 4-page Sesame Street board book about the seasons that for some inexplicable reason has held Owen’s attention for over a year. Treasures, I tell you.