As children grow and develop, their fine motor skills and self-help skills improve so that they can eventually dress themselves. They’re putting on socks, slipping feet into shoes, zipping up jackets and mastering buttons. It’s a big accomplishment!
A Little History…
Buttons can frustrate, to be sure, but they’re also fascinating. In years gone by, they were often more decorative than functional; being made from shell, bone, metal and adorned with gems, sculpted, or even painted. Buttons captivate the imagination not least of all because they share history’s stories! They’ve been around for a very long, long time; the oldest being approximately 5000 years old! Learn more about our advancing civilization through buttons. The history of buttons is really quite interesting!
READ & SING…
Bringing out my button collection was always a favorite of the preschool kidlets. Before digging into the collection, I’d lead the kiddos in a chant before reading The Button Box by Margaret Reid.
Miss Mary Mack is a fabulous chant/song to do with kidlets. Enhance your child’s musical experience with rhythm sticks and/or wrist bells to tap or shake to the beat.
Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back.
She asked her mother, mother, mother
For fifty cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Jump o’er the fence, fence, fence.
They jumped so high, high, high
They touched the sky, sky, sky
And didn’t come back, back, back
Till the fourth of July, July, July.
(repeat in a whisper)
And didn’t come back, back, back
Till the fourth of July, July, July!
Sorting & Classifying* Activity
After reading the book, I’d pass out individual bags that I’d filled previously. WE all had bags, including me! First, as a group, we’d empty our bags and count. All bags had the same amount. If there was someone that seemed to struggle with lining up and/or counting theirs out, I’d work one-on-one with that child. Know you don’t need a drawstring bag to put buttons in for you and your kiddo; plastic sandwich bags work fine. Another workable option: Put some, for example sets of 10, in small bowls.
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. Now you sort yours by color.
Sorted by Color
Once they were sorted, I’d ask specific questions and we’d go through more investigations together. Using MINE 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 them up to check. For example:
Lining them up, easily shows which color has the most (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 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 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 other ways of grouping—here are a couple options:
● size: SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE
● type: shank, flat, covered, etc
* The process of sorting involves grouping objects according to their similarities whereas the process of classifying involves grouping objects into pre-determined groups.
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. This ability to see patterns helps in recognizing and predicting social routines, making it easier for kiddos to move and maneuver confidently in his/her environment. For example, this would be helpful in recognizing the pattern of a bedtime story following bath which then could make the set-up for bedtime much easier. I did say could.…
As you can see, buttons provide the basis for many learning activities! Consider ending this experience by turning it into an art activity and letting your child create a collage!
Did you know buttons even have their own national day? Yep–it’s November 16th. But you don’t have to wait for that date to pay tribute or just PLAY with them–no, I say Here’s to buttons any day!
Yours in Play!