Sunday, July 8, 2012

Buttons Galore: 35 Cool Things to Do with Buttons

I have about a gazillion buttons that I've used with Alice for math manipulative's for sorting, and addition and subtraction, but I thought what will I do with these when she doesn't need them any more?  So, I started collecting button craft ideas.  I thought it would be really fun to do an article about buttons so, here are 35 different things to do with buttons:

Math and Science Skills: 

I've already mentioned this use, but they really ARE great for so many math and science skills and activities.
  1. Sorting and Classifying Practice (important skill in math and science):  with your toddler (either use giant buttons like those above or be sure to wait until they are no longer putting everything in their mouths), use buttons to practice sorting by color, shape, size, number of button holes or any other such characteristic.
  2. Graphing (important skill in math and science): Grab a bag of buttons and determine what is the "most" in terms of one characteristic such as shape or color in your bag by creating a physical bar graph.  The actual activity would operate a lot like the "Taste the Rainbow" activity.
  3. Counting:  Count the buttons.  Count by ones, fives, tens or even threes.
  4. Adding: give a group of buttons (such as five buttons) and then say, "how many will you have if I give you three more".  (Or the reverse, subtracting by taking away).
  5. Multiplying:  Sort out "groups of" and then multiply.  For example, have your child sort out five groups of five buttons and then figure out how many total buttons he or she has.  (Or the Reverse, dividing:  Give your kid a set number of buttons - say, 25 - and ask, if there were five of us and we divided the buttons equally, how many would we each get?)
  6. Telling Time: Make this cool clock and use it to practice telling time.  Use small enough buttons and you can put 12 buttons where the 12 would go, one giant button where the one should be and six medium sized buttons where the six should be.  Here is a How To Link, but there are a number of versions online if you would prefer something a little more whimsical.

Language Skills:

  1. Create Letters out of buttons:  You can do this together, print a large letter on a single sheet of paper and work together to fit as many buttons onto the letter as you can.  Glue them if you want to make your work a permanent piece of artwork.  You may choose to do this with a special letter such as your child's first letter of their own name or the first letter of the family name.
  2. Name Recognition:  Do the above activity but for the child's name and then use it as a plaque on their bedroom door or wall as a special piece of artwork you did together.  You can even buy separate wooden, or paper mache'd letters for this at your local craft store.
  3. Do a button scavenger hunt and give "hints" to your toddler using directional words.  to the Right, to the Left, Under the chair, Up high, Down low. . .
  4. Adjectives: Practice colors with the youngest ones, but you can also talk about bright, light, dark etc. by describing various buttons together.

Physical Coordination:

  1. Buttons are a wonderful thing to use to practice the pincer grasp, scooping and the use of tongs with your toddler.
  2. Make a button necklace.  This woman copied a $70 designer necklace and wrote a blog about how she did it, but you don't even have to get that fancy.  Stringing items is an important skill we worked on a lot with our preschoolers, it takes an amazing amount of coordination.  Give them some string and some buttons and just let them have fun with it.
  3. Use buttons as you would stamps for painting - practice picking them up even in the slippery paint.
  4. Use buttons in your sensory tub - have lots of sizes for this one, tongs and scoops
  5. Stack the buttons - how high a tower can your child make stacking buttons?  Use flat or concave buttons to make it easier and less frustrating for the particularly young.

Attach Them To Other Things to "Upcycle" The Items:

Not all of these activities are necessarily for your kids.  Maybe you'll think they're pretty cool for you too.
  1. Cover a purse or bag in buttons the "cute" way.  (This is a baby doll diaper bag I made for Alice a few years back - notice the button with Humpty Dumpty?)  The picture doesn't show off the bag in the best way, but I chose mostly pinks and bright greens to randomly scatter all over the bag.  Some of the button are also heart shaped and it looks really sweet.
  2. Cover a purse of bag the "sophisticated" way.  (I found this online.  Sorry, it is just an image, there is no tutorial for it, but I bet someone out there could make a pretty nice one of these).
  3. Glue to the end of old or plain hair clips to make them a little cuter or dressier
  4. Glue to the back of a children's chair decoratively.
  5. Make button rings, but gluing one button, or a series of stacked buttons to a plastic ring.
  6. Make designer desk supplies by attaching buttons to one end of paper clips, clothespins (use like you would binder clips) and on top of a rock to make a paper weight (great father's day gift craft), you could also attach them around the edges of a bulletin board or picture frame.
  7. Attach to a lampshade decoratively to make a plain old bargain basement shade more decorative. 
  8. String a bunch of buttons onto ribbons and hang in a doorway (without a door)  as a "cool" accessory in a child's space.

Make Your Own "Eye Spy"

  1. Photograph a pile of buttons and make your own "eye spy" by then picking out a number of the individual buttons (that are distinguishable from the others) and creating a picture list of buttons for your kids to find in the picture of ALL the buttons.  The list might also include things like, "find 10 buttons shaped like stars"

Do Some Button Art

  1. Use buttons in a collage
  2. Use buttons as though they are mosaic tiles (see right)
  3. Use buttons as a media for "sculpture" (Check out the button pendents shown below.  I'm really sorry I couldn't find a tutorial on this either, it is not an activity I've done, but when I saw these, I thought they were SUPER COOL.  You can do similar things stacking progressively smaller green buttons to make "Christmas Trees" too.

4.  Use buttons to accentuate other things in artwork.  For example, draw a bare, or "winter" tree and add buttons to the branches to look like fruits, flowers or leaves.  

5.  Do a treatment like you did with the letters to a simple line drawing to make a piece of art.  Call it your button silhouette.  

Make Button Wreaths

Need I say more?  There are a few ways to make these though.  Here are some more pics.

1.  The wreath ornament:  Link

2.  Wrapped Wreath with Buttons:  Get a foam circle wreath form and wrap it with a natural looking 
      material such as hemp yarn.  Carefully hot glue a variety of buttons on the wreath.

3.  Explosion of buttons wreath: Obviously, this one was not done by a child, but if you start with a 
     paper plate with its center removed and let them glue away, your child can easily do this.  Alice 
     made one that is probably buried in the Christmas Box at the moment, out of all the green buttons 
     she could find one year and then pointed to where she wanted me to add a smattering of yellow ones
    (for stars and ornaments) with hot glue on top of the green ones she had glued on.  For this method, 
     use a paper plate that is the general button color you are using, or paint a white one first, because the
     plate will show through when a kid does it.

4.  Simple Row Wreath:  Do as picture shows, flip, tie ends in a pretty bow.  Voila!

Button Flowers: 

Great Mother's Day Version: Careful with the wire.
Cute on top of a wrapped gift

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