We're another month closer to summer, and this week dollar stores want to help you get ready for the warmer weather. Here's a random sampling:

If you haven't been to Dollar Tree's website lately, you should take a look. In my opinion, the new format is much nicer. Now you can control the speed at which the specials scroll by at the click of a mouse. You can go back to a previous item or look at each mini screen randomly if you like, as opposed to having to be a quick study or wait for a specific item to make the circuit again.

This week Dollar Tree is featuring a lot of children's summer items, like 6" licensed vinyl balls, bug carrying cases, sidewalk chalk and 9" plastic pail and shovel sets. As always, each item is only $1 each.

Dollar tree also wants you to remember Teacher Appreciation Week which is May 3-9. The store has put together teacher gift bags for a buck, but it's anybody's guess what's in them. I'm thinking not much for a dollar, but does it really matter? The point of the exercise is to acknowledge your teacher's hard work with a token of your appreciation. Better yet, have your child spring for a buck from his or her allowance to help reinforce the idea of giving a little something back.

At 99-cent Only Stores, you can get your kids new tee-shirts in assorted colors for only 99 cents. These tees are valued at $6, so this is a great buy. There are also a lot of summer toys for the little ones, among them baseballs, beach balls and a bat and baseball set.

For gardeners, get a package of 30 Jobes Food Spikes, five and six foot garden stakes, terracotta pots and saucers and garden tools all for only 99 cents each.

On Family Dollar's garden accessories page, you will find five steps for getting your garden ready for planting as well as an assortment of reasonably priced garden supplies. These include a two-piece garden tool set for $1, wildflower seed mix for $1, an 8 lb. bag of potting soil for $1 and Miracle-Gro plant food for $2.50.

Also, outfit your kids for summer at Family Dollar without breaking the piggy bank. Infant and toddler short sets or swim suits are just $6 each. Girls sizes 4-16 swim wear are only $8 and children's sandals are priced at just $4 a pair.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes tips and ideas for home decoration using only items from the dollar store.


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