Buttons are valuable manipulatives to have in the primary classroom. Buttons are great for counting, sorting by attributes, and making patterns. Children love buttons (and I must confess, I do too). Here's a few ideas for buttons to use at the beginning of the year or any time!
Read "The Lost Button" chapter from Frog and Toad are Friends. Have a small box of buttons with all the described buttons in the story. Pick them up as you read. After reading the story, make a list of attributes of the button that Toad was looking for. Then have students try and find the particular button Toad had lost. This activity is most effective when done with a small group. I use this activity in my math station time after introducing sorting.
Read Grandma's Button Box to class. Have students play a secret sort game by secretly selecting the attributes for a set of buttons and then asking children in the group to "guess the rule" by identifying the attributes.
Read A Button Muddle. Have students sort and count groups of buttons.
Read Corduroy. Have students brainstorm ideas about Corduroy's missing button.
Depending on the level of your class, students will choose an idea about Corduroy's button and write about it in their journals or the class can write a story together and illustrate.
Have students sort and graph small groups of buttons.
Ask students to bring in buttons to make button collages.
Staple 4 or 5 envelopes together. Give students buttons that have at least 4 or 5 different attributes. Instruct them to sort the buttons and draw or write an attribute of the button on each envelope and then place the buttons in the envelope that match that attribute. Its a great way to assess sorting skils.
This great homework activity was sent to me by my friend, Janna Smith, a kindergarten teacher from Texas. Ask your students to select a button and write down 2 or 3 attributes of the button on an index card (parents can help with this task). All students bring the button and the index card to school in a baggie. Teacher gathers all buttons and reads each index card with the attributes listed. Students use the attributes to identify the correct button. Janna says her students love this activity. Thanks Janna!!
Click on the picture for a set of Button Sorting Cards.