Buttons, Buttons, Buttons!

Find a bag of shaped buttons at your local craft store and turn that one bag into unlimited fun with 15+ learning activities!
kids activities using buttons
Sorting Buttons

Sort the buttons by shape.
Sort the buttons by color.

We used plastic lids as a sorting tool.
counting buttons

Counting Buttons

I used a this tray from the dollar store, but a muffin tin also works well for counting buttons.
DIY puzzle using buttons

DIY Button Puzzle

Trace buttons on a piece of paper and challenge your child to match them up.
trace a letter with buttons

Trace a Letter

Draw a letter and challenge your child to trace it with the buttons.

patterning with buttons

Patterning with Buttons

Start patterns and have your child finish each pattern.

matching with buttons

Button Matching

Put a pile of several pairs of buttons in front of your child and challenge him to find the matches.
Dice Game with Buttons

Fill a 10 Frame

Make a grid and roll the die to fill it up with buttons.
threading buttons

Stack Buttons onto Toothpicks

Stick toothpicks into styrofoam. Stack the buttons onto the toothpicks.

 sorting buttons

One Button in Each Section

Great one to one correspondence practice
I-Spy Buttons Game

I-Spy Buttons

I spy a pink star. I spy a blue square.

balancing buttons

Tracing Foam Letters

These foam letters are a bath tub toy, but balancing buttons on top was fun!
graphing with buttons

Which one has more?

lacing buttons

Lacing Buttons on Pipe Cleaners

Make a bracelet or sort and lace a certain shaped button.
balancing buttons

Button Balancing

Balance buttons on a craft stick (It is trickier than you might think and toddlers love the challenge.)

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  • Reply LisaDay

    Imagination. You have a great imagination. Thank you for the ideas as always.


    April 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm
  • Reply Discovering Montessori

    Ok. You sold me on these. I also look at those same buttons everytime I go to Micheals. You are very creative. Thank you.

    April 23, 2010 at 12:53 pm
  • Reply Joyful Learner

    How about stacking them to see how tall they can be? Great use of buttons!

    April 23, 2010 at 2:07 pm
  • Reply JenBrown

    you always have such great ideas! About what age do you think kids could handle most of the activities you have posted? My son will be 18 months this summer when I take him out of daycare and I would love to try some of your activities with him!

    April 23, 2010 at 2:35 pm
  • Reply Fiona

    wow great ideas!

    April 23, 2010 at 6:29 pm
  • Reply artsy_momma

    Wow! That’s a lot of ideas! Do you sign up for their email so you can get the 40% off coupons?

    April 23, 2010 at 6:49 pm
  • Reply The Activity Mom

    I do need to plan ahead and have a coupon with me! =)

    April 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm
  • Reply April

    I like the toothpick idea!

    April 23, 2010 at 8:38 pm
  • Reply Mommy Lisa

    My daughter always uses buttons – real ones at my moms – for sorting & playing store.

    For some reason my mom has a giant bucket of buttons and my grandma had them too. And oddly, I have a box with the start of a button collection.

    We are weird.

    April 23, 2010 at 9:13 pm
  • Reply Raising a Happy Child

    Ironically I bought the same set and still didn’t open it because I couldn’t quite find time and activity. Now I have tons of activities, on to find time 🙂

    April 23, 2010 at 9:50 pm
  • Reply Confessions Of A Homeschooler

    Awesome ideas, I have those buttons, so it’s fun to see more ideas! Where did you get the wooden sorting box, I’ve been on the look out for something like that?

    April 23, 2010 at 10:47 pm
  • Reply Jen

    I think u got more than your money’s worth- great job. Such a variety of ativities!

    April 24, 2010 at 12:51 am
  • Reply Angela

    Great ideas!

    April 24, 2010 at 12:54 am
  • Reply Elise

    Well worth the money spent. You came up with so many fantastic ideas. I recently saw the exact same bag of buttons here in Australia in our local craft store. I am popping out this afternoon to the shops and I will be buying the bag of buttons. Thank you for sharing your fantastic ideas.

    It’s great when you find an inexpensive resource like this and can come up with so many activities. I recently did a blog post about the activities I have made for my little boy using cheap gift wrap. If you are interested the link to this post is:

    April 24, 2010 at 1:12 am
  • Reply Anonymous

    What section where they in? I tried looking in the button section of micheals and I couldn’t find them.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm
  • Reply The Activity Mom

    They were in the button section, but if you can’t find them there, try the kids’ craft section.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:54 pm
  • Reply Mama to 3 Blessings

    we love buttons too – you have come up with some awesome activities using them – thanks for sharing!

    April 25, 2010 at 10:35 am
  • Reply Mari-Ann

    Holy Moses! They don’t call you Activity Mom for nothin’!! We have these same exact buttons and I’m thrilled to have this post as a reference for the many, many ways to use them!! Thanks!

    April 25, 2010 at 11:38 am
  • Reply Sun-Kissed Scholars

    Wowzer, you were really on an idea kick. That is certainly worth the money!! I happen to have those lacing buttons and hadn’t thought of half of the ideas… The toothpick one never would have come to me.
    Thanks so much!!

    April 26, 2010 at 1:39 am
  • Reply The girl who painted trees

    I found those buttons at my mom’s in her craft drawer when Bear was 13 months. We’ve used them for so many things. Actually, aside from tracing letters with them, we’ve used them for all the things you posted about. It’s great you’ve put it all in one post, because I’ll need to refresh my memory in about 8 months when J-jo is ready for some tot school stuff:)

    April 26, 2010 at 2:55 am
  • Reply Nicole {tired, need sleep}

    I’ve often seen those buttons and have felt the same way… thanks for all the great ideas. Next time I see them I’m going to get them!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:35 am
  • Reply Carla

    On “Mama Jenn’s” blog, she uses the buttons by color to make a rainbow, sorting them by red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet..very pretty. I am not sure how old your little ones are, but you can also use the buttons to make patterns….simple AB patterns or make them more complex: ABB, AAB, or even ABC and repeat. I read somewhere that you were a teacher, so you will know exactly what I mean. You can use them to create objects/pictures. A triangle button on top of a square button make a “house” or a few circle buttons under a rectangle buttons might make a “truck” or a “car”. Loved all your creative ideas!!

    May 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm
  • Reply Carla

    Me again…Oops, sorry…I mentioned patterns when you said that already!! How about using the buttons as manipulatives to make addition sentences? “2 green buttons plus 2 red buttons equals 4 buttons all together” Again, I don’t know the age of your children, but you might be able to adapt it.

    May 11, 2010 at 3:02 pm
  • Reply Shonda

    Very cool! I would love to be blog buddies with you. I have a book giveaway ending 5/16. Come check me out! Thanks, Shonda

    May 13, 2010 at 11:06 pm
  • Reply April

    Just wanted to let you know that I linked to your post:

    June 27, 2010 at 10:07 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    AIMS Education Foundation has a K-2 lesson on Buttons called, “Button Holes” that incorporate NCTM Standards. It includes pattern & activity mats. Hope this link works for you:

    Carla (sorry about the anonymous, but my acct is not working for some reason)

    June 3, 2011 at 2:53 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    Great ideas! You could also use playdough for activities? Make impressions on the playdough or hide a couple of shapes in the dough and the little ones have to find the shapes, thereby building fine motor skills.

    You could also place shapes in a brown paper bag, place a couple of shapes on the table and ask the little ones to find shapes that are the same as those on the table.

    Buttons are FUN! Isabel (Play 2 Learn)

    June 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    My kids like to treasure hunt for them in the sand box. We hide them and they dig them up as “treasure” Great ideas, thanks! 🙂

    June 7, 2011 at 5:46 pm
  • Reply Harper

    Great list. You could also play tic-tac-toe or jacks with them (although you’d need a rubber ball as well for jacks). With larger buttons, it could be fun to use them to trace outlines on paper. You could also try to make pictures by arranging the buttons.

    And of course, there’s the classic button twirler: put a piece of thread through two holes in a round button. Tie the ends of the thread together so that you have a loop that passes through the holes in the button. Holding the loop on each side and allowing the button to hang in the center, swing the button around to twist the thread. Then, when the thread is well twisted, pull the loop on both sides to watch it untwist and the patterns it makes in the process.

    You can see an example of the last one at the bottom of this page:

    June 8, 2011 at 6:56 am
  • Reply Julie Bagamary

    Great ideas and getting them to have fun with buttons early is great too.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:08 am
  • Reply Anonymous

    You could put one in a paper bag and lay out “choices” then give the child clues so they can figure out which shape it is (I have 4 sides etc).

    July 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm
  • Reply Happyscrapper42

    I too found a similar bag at Joann’s and thought $5.99 really!? But bought them anyway since I had a coupon:) Now I know many ways to use them. Thanks for posting!

    November 19, 2011 at 9:30 am
  • Reply Jennifer Dodge

    Cut a slot in a plastic lid and put them through: addition practice (put in 2, put in 2 more, how many are in there) plus fine motor practice for buttoning

    March 4, 2012 at 11:21 pm
  • Reply Amy

    This is a fantastic idea and I love the way that all the comments have extended on the activities. I have been thinking about buying some buttons for ages but they are so expensive may have a look on e bay for a batch. What annoys me more is that as a kid we used to play with a massive box of buttons but they were thrown out! Off I go to buy buttons you have inspired me.

    June 19, 2012 at 6:21 pm
  • Reply Shonda

    I just bought these buttons and I will be using your activity ideas with my son next month! So excited!

    June 20, 2012 at 11:46 pm
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