26 Bright Ways to Use Buttons for Learning

Sorting, counting, stacking, and more!

Button Activities WeAreTeachers

There’s something so entrancing about a big box of buttons. You just want to play with them, stacking them and sorting them in endless ways. That’s what makes buttons so terrific for learning! Try some of these button activities to help kids build fine motor skills, work on math, make cute crafts, and much more.

Note: Smaller buttons can be a choking hazard and might require supervision.

1. Master buttoning skills

Button Activities It Happens in a Blink

This is a task that some kids master with ease, while others struggle. This easy DIY button activity gives kids plenty of practice with buttoning and unbuttoning.

Learn more: It Happens In a Blink

2. Make button sorting cups

Button Activities About Family Crafts

Pair brightly-colored buttons with matching containers that have slits cut in the lid. Kids practice identifying colors and sorting, plus get fine motor practice from pushing the buttons through the openings.

Learn more: About Family Crafts

3. Play a game of tic-tac-toe

This sweet activity combines a game of tic-tac-toe with fine motors skills, since each playing piece is buttoned into place. Clever!

Learn more: Frog in a Pocket

4. Add and subtract with Pete the Cat

Think of buttons, and you just might think of Pete the Cat. There are lots of button activities inspired by Pete, like this one that has kids adding and subtracting his groovy buttons.

Learn more: Buggy and Buddy

5. Explore a button sensory bin

Button Activities Toddler Approved

Fill a bin with buttons and make several containers to hold them. Then give kids a variety of ways to pick up the buttons, like tweezers or spoons. It’s a fun way to build fine motor skills.

Learn more: Toddler Approved

6. Spin a button whirligig

Here’s a classic toy that celebrates the ingenuity of simpler times. Learn how to make your own whirligig at the link.

Learn more: Heaps of Laundry

7. Build a button tower

Button Activities The Educators Spin On It

STEM challenges are fun for all kids, and this one is perfect for the youngest learners. Using only buttons and Play-Doh, how tall of a button tower can you build?

Learn more: The Educators’ Spin On It

8. Spell with button letters

Use buttons to make letter shapes and even spell out your name or sight words. If you like, you can glue them into place for cool artwork too.

Learn more: No Time For Flashcards

9. Create a cute cupcake

Speaking of cool artwork, how adorable are these button cupcakes? We’ll take a baker’s dozen, please.

Learn more: Busted Button

10. Whip up some button bookmarks

Button Activities The Inspiration Board

These button bookmarks could not be easier to make, and you can have such fun personalizing them. These would make great gifts for your class at holiday time.

Learn more: The Inspiration Board

11. Count with button mittens

There are lots of counting button activities, but this one with mittens is one of our favorites. (You could even turn the wristband at the bottom into a 10-frame.)

Learn more: Play to Learn Preschool

12. Decorate a button tree

Twist a pipe cleaner tree and then add bright buttons to its branches. Challenge older kids to build the biggest tree they can!

Learn more: Live Like You Are Rich

13. Cover beginning letters with buttons

Pass out these free printable playing boards and give each child a handful of buttons. As you say a word out loud, students decide what the beginning letter is and cover it with a button. Play it like bingo to find a winner!

Learn more: Book By Book

14. Race button clothespin cars

Button Activities Crafts by Amanda

These clever little cars are perfect for imaginative play along the roads of a pretend town. Kids will love experimenting with button sizes to make the fastest car.

Learn more: Crafts by Amanda

15. Use cardboard tube trees to sort

Sorting is one of the most popular button activities, and we like this unique twist. Make cardboard tube trees, then sort the buttons into their trunks.

Learn more: Toddler at Play

16. Learn how to sew buttons

Don’t overlook this simple but important skill! Use plastic canvas with large holes, along with yarn and blunt needles, to teach kids how to sew on a button.

Learn more: Play to Learn Preschool

17. Put together a colorful turtle

This adorable little guy is just too sweet to pass up! He’s made using an old CD, lots of buttons, and some googly eyes.

Learn more: Fireflies and Mudpuppies

18. Stack buttons with toothpicks

Button stacking is fun on its own, but when you add Play-Doh and toothpicks, you can build your towers into much higher skyscrapers!

Learn more: Coffee Cups and Crayons

19. Graph with buttons

Grab a big handful of buttons from the box. Then sort the buttons by size, shape, or color and use them to make a graph. 

Learn more: My Joy-Filled Life

20. Craft a button caterpillar

Button Activities Factory Direct Craft

This craft is easy enough for all kids to do, and they’ll have lots of fun sorting through the button box to make the patterns of their caterpillar.

Learn more: Factory Direct Craft

21. Bounce some button springs

These buttons on springs are so much fun to play with! Turn this into a STEM challenge by asking kids to alter the size and shape of their springs to see which can bounce the highest.

Learn more: Lalymom

22. Button up a picture

Buttoning skills practice takes on a new dimension when you have kids match shapes to a picture, then button them into place.

Learn more: Toddler at Play

23. Lay out button patterns

Simple button activities like this encourage kids to recognize patterns and build fine motor skills by placing the buttons properly on the page.

Learn more: Learning 4 Kids

24. Match button colors and shapes

Button Activities Walking by the Way

You might call this an “advanced sorting” activity. Use a grid to get kids to sort buttons by several characteristics at once—color and shape. 

Learn more: Walking By The Way

25. Button together a chain

What a cool way to work on buttoning! These felt strips can be interlinked into a chain.

Learn more: COTA Mom

26. Assemble a button bowl

We love kid crafts that are actually useful too. Button bowls are surprisingly easy to make and will look cute storing small items in a child’s room.

Learn more: Ideas 2 Live 4

Looking for more low-cost learning ideas? Try these 30 Clever and Colorful Pipe Cleaner Crafts and Learning Activities.

Plus, 26 Wood Craft Sticks Projects and Ideas for the Classroom.

26 Bright Ways to Use Buttons for Learning

Posted by Jill Staake

Jill Staake is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She's spent most of her life teaching in traditional classrooms and beyond, from 8th grade English to butterfly encounters, and believes learning is a life-long process.

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