Awesome STEM projects don’t have to be expensive! Your imagination and the ability to create is the best free thing out there. With a few simple supplies that you can pick up at your local dollar store, you can get your kids’ clever imaginations, designing and problem-solving.  Put together your own Dollar Store Engineering Kit and have an awesome screen-free activity for rainy days, summer vacations, or weekends. It’s even perfect for the classroom!


Dollar Store Engineering Kit for Kids STEM Activities Tinkering Tray


The dollar store can be an amazing place for materials for your STEM projects.  You are sure to find great supplies to use for tinker trays and engineering kits, as well as simple science experiments. Combine all of these loose materials in one place by grabbing a bin at the store too!

Our ideas below for a dollar store STEM kit is a great way to keep kids engaged all year round.  We have even included it as part of our Summer STEM series.

engineering kit ideas

Looking for easy to print activities, and inexpensive problem-based challenges? 

We have you covered…

Click below to get your quick and easy STEM challenges. 


What are you going to do with the items in your wonderful new STEM kits?

Engineer something, of course!

We use many of these items to put together themed tinker kits or baskets too!

Check out our giant collection of STEM: 100+ STEM projects for Kids

These simple STEM ideas are all great engineering projects that multiple age kids can work on together or individual kids can work at their own level. Some adult participation may be required depending on the kid!

Straw structures can be built a few ways including straws and pipe cleaners, straws and tape, or straws and play dough.

Make car ramps out of cardboard boxes and test out angles, force, motion and race cars (build a race car).

Now onto what to include in your own engineering kit…


Here’s our best suggestions for items to include in your own engineering kits.  All of the following materials, we have used for cool STEM challenges and simple science experiments.

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Toothpicks
  • Tape (regular and patterned)
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Paperclips
  • Pool Noodles
  • Cups (both for building towers and doing simple science)
  • Index Cards
  • Rubberbands
  • Styrofoam Balls
  • Balloons
  • String and Rope
  • Clothespins
  • Dental Floss
  • Coffee Filters
  • Cupcake Liners
  • Paper and Writing Implements
  • Small Tools
  • Measuring Tapes or Rulers
  • Small Plastic Animals
  • Battery Operated Tea Lights
  • Basket or Bin (Storage)
  • Mason Jars (great for science activities)
  • Cookie Sheets (great for messes)
  • Seasonal Items (make sure to check for fun items each new season or holiday like eyeball for Halloween catapults)

This list will vary depending on what you have available at your closest dollar store!

BEST TIP: Make sure to check out each row at the dollar store. Hidden treasures are even in the automotive aisle.

Next check out our DIY science kit: You can also stock up on great supplies from the dollar store!


Paper Bag STEM Challenges

LEGO Building Ideas

Structure Building Ideas

Outdoor Engineering Projects


Click on the link or on the image below for more fun science experiments for kids.

Science experiments and activities for kids

Looking for easy to print activities, and inexpensive problem-based challenges? 

We have you covered…

Click below to get your quick and easy STEM challenges. 


  1. There is not an actual grade suggestion, but it’s based on ability and interest. Building structures can be done by both younger and older kids just the complexity of the structure will change and the level of involvement your son puts into it. You could look up famous monuments to replicate or different types of bridges. He could build a more intricate pulley system. The possibilities are endless! FYI My son is in first grade.

  2. I definitely think so too. I want to share that everyone can do STEM projects even on a budget!

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