playing with buttons

Kids Play with Anything #13: Child’s Play with Buttons

Do you have a button tin or jar at your house for some play with buttons? Buttons are great for sensory and loose parts play, if kids are past the everything-in-the-mouth stage, as well as in an ear or up a nose. You don’t need buttons in huge amounts. Kids will play with even a couple of handfuls.

play with buttonsButtons come in an endless variety of color, texture, size, and even shape. Most of them are round, certainly, but there are specialty ones for everything, like ducks, bunnies, flowers, hats, and more. Materials such as plastic, metal, leather, wood, and fabric make them all feel different too. Textures range from smooth to bumpy, fuzzy to hard. There are so many colors it’s easy to make a rainbow. Big buttons could almost be used as jar lids and some are no bigger than a pea.

play with buttonsPlay happens in a variety too. An obvious way to play with buttons is to sort them ino different groups. Little Sister wanted to pick out all the big ones. She liked to hear the sounds as she stirred them with her fingers or dropped them on the floor. Sorting by color is another possibility but it’s not always easy. Besides sensory, buttons can stimulate imaginary play. Big Sister liked the ones that looked like jewels.

button color sort activityThreading on pipe cleaners is much easier than threading with a needle and string, even if a pipe cleaner is only one length. Kids can make loops to go around their arms to give them special powers. Pick out some buttons of 3 or 4 colors and let kids match them to pipe cleaners of the same color. (Thank you, Diapers to Diplomas, for this great idea!) Choose ones with fairly large holes or buttons with a loop on the back so they are easy to slide onto the pipe cleaners.

teaching art to kids textureFrom such simple materials comes complex play. No, that’s not exactly right. The play actually comes from the child. Buttons are stimulating the play. However it works, play with buttons can encourage such skills as sorting and categorizing, making patterns, counting, explaining, asking questions, choosing, and visualizing. It can encourage imagining and creativity. Small muscles in the hands, wrists, and fingers are strengthened and exercised.

Button, button, how can kids play? Will child’s play with buttons happen today?

Colors of Childhood: Button Color Sorting Activity

Not every house will have a large collection of buttons like we do, but even a few will be fun for this button color sorting activity —on pipe cleaners. With only a couple of handfuls, Little Sister enjoyed playing with the buttons and making piles of “jewels”  although she  couldn’t decide if they were for fairies or pirates.

button color sortWith a few of the colors to match the pipe cleaners already in a separate bowl, it was much easier to match the color of the button to the color of the pipe cleaner. (Thank you, Diapers to Diplomas, for this great idea!) Most of the buttons had fairly large holes so they weren’t too hard for little hands to string. The buttons with the loop on the back were very easy to poke on and slide.

One button looked green beside the green pipe cleaner but yellow beside the yellow one. It was a good example of how some colors can be difficult to match. In the photo, it’s the small greeny-yellow dot on top of the white button in the middle.

button color sort activityThere were several buttons with dark blue edges and white in the middle. I asked Little Sister if they should go on the blue pipe cleaner or the white one. An object can often fit in more than one category at a time but this means choosing one part that fits and ignoring the parts that do not. She decided maybe they were “fwozen” like ice cubes.

Learning fun and play can come from such simple activities and materials. Pipe cleaners and buttons are easy to find and can be used over and over. Not only are kids practicing the skills of sorting and categorizing, but also making choices and using color words. Coordination and the small muscles in the hands and fingers are still developing at this age, so this color button sorting and sliding onto pipe cleaners was good fine motor exercise. There was lots of big physical movement too, getting down on the floor to pick up buttons that had fallen, and a bit of counting as well.

What a fun little play-of-the-day. Is this something your child might like?

Even Mending Helps with Kindergarten Readiness

Looking for a button turned into some fun and learning for all kinds of thinking, another way that ordinary tasks can help support early development and kindergarten readiness.

While I looked thru the buttons for one that matched, Big Sister found 3 big buttons that were the same color as “dirty snow’. She lined them up in a row like a snowman and using more buttons, added a nose, mouth, eyes, and buttons down the front. Using only dark buttons, she outlined a hat for his head. When it was all done, she called me over to look. This is one way to make a snowman when the snow on the ground has all melted away.

Drawing does not have to be done with only a paper and crayons, it can be done with buttons. Children can create with whatever is close at hand. Their imaginations can turn ordinary, everyday items into whatever they want. This unplanned, spontaneous activity was certainly fun and it involved thinking challenges, too.

Big Sister had to collect all the information that she knew about snowman. She searched for buttons that were the right size and color for her project, choosing some and putting others back in the box. She planned how it would go and carefully paid attention to what she was doing. Chatting about the process, it didn’t matter to her if anyone else was listening or not. She was giving herself instructions and practicing how to use self-talk effectively. Her fingers were carefully placing and adjusting, giving the small muscles in her hands, wrists, and fingers some exercise. Once she was done, she let Little Sister play with it. The finished product was not the purpose for her, it was the creating.

All this learning and more came into play, and play is certainly the word. We sometimes think kids play just with toys, but ordinary household items can be wonderful fun. Does your child–the ones that are beyond putting them in mouths or other openings–play with buttons?

Kindergarten Readiness: Buttons Sensory & Loose Parts Play

Button, button, whose got some buttons for sensory and loose parts play, along with some fun, learning, and kindergarten readiness? Our house has buttons from several drawers and containers and getting them out is a favorite special day activity treat. Because it is so easy for kids to put buttons in small places like noses … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Buttons Sensory & Loose Parts Play