Do you want to add more variety into your singing time lesson plans, but are short on a budget? I’m sharing some fun and easy ways to add manipulatives into your singing time supplies with these budget alternatives and tips!
Plus, don’t miss all my diy tutorials for making your own music leader supplies!
Affiliate links are included in this post.
I’ve been thinking about how to help music leaders who are on a tight budget! I have shared all my favorite Primary Music Leaders Supplies with everything I could think of.
I even turned that list into a easy-to-shop amazon list. You can heart that list to save it in your own Amazon account so you can easily find it when you need it.
But when you’re just getting started, it’s a big long list and it can be overwhelming! I’ve shared homemade instrument tutorials here, but today I’ll gather a bunch of swaps all in one place to help even the most budget-conscious music leader get started!
DIY Homemade Instruments
How to Make Egg Shakers – Grab some leftover Easter eggs and your choice of filling. This tutorial will break it down in easy to follow steps and tips.
*Bonus – Ideas for Using Egg Shakers
How to Make Sand Blocks – You just need a dollar store pool noodle and a few minutes to create a big set of your own sand blocks.
Plus, I’ve shared 20 ways to use sand blocks in the post!
How to Make Maori Sticks – This easy tutorial turns everyday PVC plumbing pipe into an instrument that’s a blast to use in Primary.
Plus, the post includes fun actions to use your Maori Sticks in a variety of ways!
How to Make Ribbon Wands – You just need a few easy supplies to make the most beautiful ribbon wands you’ll ever see with color transitioning ribbons!
This is a great supply to make homemade as even the store bought ribbon wands need a little DIY help adding hot glue.
How to Make Jingle Bell Bracelets – This is a SUPER simple DIY instrument to make from home and they are perfect for gifting to send home with your Primary children!
While they are easy and inexpensive to make from home, they are one I generally prefer store-bought for the quality difference.
Dance Scarves – (Post in progress – Check back for tutorial!)
There’s one supply you just can’t DIY, and it’s one of my favorites to add to Singing Time! But I have a promo code to help! Grab a set of Merry Bells Handbells and save 10% off any purchase with the promo code PrimarySinging.
See this post with all my tips for Using Handbells in Primary!
Budget Manipulative Swaps + Alternatives
Hand Bells – Try Jingle Bells first. They’re certainly not the same, but it’s a much cheaper way to add in fun with bells!
See this An Angel Came to Joseph Smith Jingle Bells singing time idea.
Rhythm Sticks – Try using pencils or chopsticks. They’re smaller and easier to store and cheap to replace, as needed.
See this Families Can Be Together Forever Pencil Rhythm Sticks idea.
Drums – Grab a hymn book! It will add a strong thumping sound and there should be plenty around the chapel to use. You can also use empty milk jugs or flipped over buckets.
See this Baptism Drumming the Beat activity.
Ribbon Wands – As a quick swap, you can always use just a spool of ribbon, cut into strips. Let the kids hold one end. Even cheaper — use a big spool of yarn!
Dance Scarves – Bring in a box of tissues! You can grab a box for $1-2 and have plenty for your entire primary! Sure, they’re not as colorful. But they’ll absolutely work in a pinch.
Finger Lights – Bring in flashlights! Just swap in 2-3 flashlights and let the kids take turns up front following your pattern.
Playdoh – Instead of purchasing the brand name, you can make it yourself! Head over to my parenting blog for a easy Homemade Playdoh recipe!
Cheap Swaps for Organizational Supplies
Laminating – If you can’t budget for a laminator and pouches yet, just pick up a pack of 25 heavy duty sheet protectors. Use the same set over and over to protect the pages only while they’re being used, and not for storage. Get the thickest ones so they’ll last for repeated use!
Paper Cutter – Grab the scissors, they’ll absolutely do! A pair of scissor may not be as quick, but it can be relaxing to sit and cut and you can get precise cuts and fun shaped cuts instead of just straight boxy shapes.
File Organizer – While a sturdy cute tote is nice, it’s not a game changer. Save your extra boxes and watch for one that’s just the right width for paper! Then, cut off the extra flaps and store away.
Printer Ink – I swear up and down by using the HP Instant Ink service. It has saved me SO much money and I never worry about ink anymore. It has truly been a game-changer!
Plus, new subscribers get a $10 credit which covers 1-2 months to try it out for yourself!
On a budget, you can save and refill your ink cartridges with off-brand refills. My mom used to take in her ink cartridges into a shop and do this about once a month. You’ll want to price compare to see if it’s a good option for your printer ink.
Tips for Finding Supplies on the Cheap!
Watch for Sales – This is, of course, obvious! But don’t “discount” (pun intended) this idea just because it seems like the standard answer. There are a couple of particular sales to watch for that are VERY good times to buy!
- Back to School – Watch the fliers and pick up school supplies while they’re cheap. I try to wait to buy crayons, markers, binders, and dry erase markers until this time of the year, if I can.
- Amazon’s Prime Day – If you’re a Prime member, they put all sorts of random things on sale for the couple days of Prime Day! Put what you’re looking at in your cart, then move them over to “Save for Later”. Then, you’ll see suggestions for those items when they go on sale.
- Bonus Tip: You don’t have to be a Prime member. I cancelled my subscription years ago and wait for my orders the slow way. Amazon usually offers a discounted trial right around Prime Day and the Holidays so you can take advantage of one of those offers if the sales are good enough.
- Oriental Trading Free Shipping Day – Usually middle of October Oriental Trading does a free shipping on ANY order promotion. They have a few supplies that are great for music leaders, but shipping can kill the deal. I LOVE their free shipping days and usually will grab something.
Ask in your Ward! Chances are, there are several “retired” Primary Music Leaders in your ward. Check in with your ward members to see if anyone has older supplies they no longer need or that you can borrow for specific lesson plans.
Many homeschool moms also have many of these same supplies we’re talking about, so don’t be shy about asking!
Buy Used – Shop your local buy, sell, trade groups to see if you can find anyone clearing house and getting rid of something you’d love to add to your supply closet!
Amazon also offers many, many listing with a Buy Used option. Sometimes those were simply returns that are still in perfect condition.
Head over next to see What’s in my Singing Time Music bag! The post includes tips for staying organized and how to store and carry your supplies.
Do you have a favorite swap that I haven’t included? Make sure you add your ideas to the comments to add to this inspiration list!