As children grow and develop, their fine motor skills and self-help skills improve so that they can eventually dress themselves…putting on socks and shoes, zipping up jackets and mastering buttons. November 16th is National Button Day. Buttons were often more decorative than functional; being made from shell, bone, metal and adorned with gems, sculpted, even painted. Buttons are fascinating things! They’ve been around for a very long, long time…the oldest known button being around 5000 years old! The history of buttons is really quite fascinating...learn more about our advancing civilization through buttons.
Bringing out my button collection was always a favorite of the preschool kidlets. Before digging into the collection, I’d begin by reading The Button Box by Margaret Reid.
After reading, I’d pass out individual bags that I’d scooped buttons into. First, as a group, I’d have the kiddos empty their bags so they could count their buttons. All bags had the same amount…if there was someone that seemed to struggle with lining up and/or counting them out, I’d work one-on-one with that child.
Then I’d ask:
How could we separate or sort these buttons into groups –where the groups have the same kind of button in them?
Sometimes I’d get a suggestion, sometimes I’d get puzzled looks. They’d catch on pretty quickly though if I picked up one of my buttons, noted the color and said I’ll put all ‘red’ buttons here and, picking up another color, say blue, and all my ‘blue’ buttons here.
Sort your buttons by color.
Once the buttons were sorted, I’d ask specific questions and we’d go through more investigations together. Using MY pile as an example
● I’d ask them to look at the various groups and tell me, just visually, which color had the most buttons in it.
● Then I’d line the buttons up
Lining them up, easily shows which color has the most buttons (red). It also allows other questions:
“Which color has the fewest or least number of buttons?” (yellow)
And sometimes you may have the case where there are colors that have the same number or equal amounts!
●Depending on your child’s age/development you can take it further
° Pose the question:
How many more green buttons are there than blue?
° Count the number of green buttons and the number of blue buttons
° Show the solution by using a ruler or ribbon to denote the area at which the blue and green buttons have the same amount…ie., at 2 (see the black line)
° Highlight the line where the blue and green buttons have the SAME amount
° Note, beyond that line indicates the number more of green buttons
How many MORE green buttons are there? (1)
° Count together
° Recap: There is 1 more green button than blue buttons. 3 is 1 more than 2, 2 + 1 = 3.
Once your kiddo understands the concept of sorting and categorizing they’ll suggest ways of grouping—here are a couple other options:
● size: SMALL, MEDIUM LARGE
● type (shank, flat, covered, etc)
You can also use the buttons to create PATTERNS! The ability to recognize, identify, and create patterns not only supports mathematical learning, it also contributes to a child’s broader social development—for example, the ability to see patterns helps in recognizing and predicting social routines, such as bedtime story following bath making it easier for them to move and maneuver confidently in his/her environment. If you’re interested in doing more math readiness activities like this here’s another!
Consider ending the experience by turning it into an art activity by letting your child create a button collage!
Yours in PLAY!