An invitation to play with buttons. You wouldn’t think that a bunch of buttons and a few ceramic ramekins would have much appeal to a three year old, but Corinne could not keep herself away from this invitation to play.
Seriously, setting up this invitation to play couldn’t be easier. So simple, and so basic, but full of educational concepts. Corinne loved it. When I was it up, I didn’t think it would be such a great hit, but as I watched her play, I soon realized what this invitation to play had to offer that my three year old daughter loved so much.
Corinne loved this invitation to play for several reasons.
- It’s colorful.
- It’s full of various sized buttons, some of which are “teeny tiny,” and Corinne adores all things that are teeny tiny.
- The buttons make the most delightful sounds when dropped into the ceramic ramekins.
Be sure to read all the way through the post to see what books pair well with this activity! The first one listed is one of our favorites (and one that I use in my preschool math instruction a lot)!
To set up the invitation to play with buttons
I set out two printed sheets of 12 x 12 scrapbook paper. This paper served no purpose except to make the set up visually appealing, to give it an aesthetic quality. In a way, it did serve as a play mat, but such a boundary to the play was just as added bonus.
Out of the cabinet above my refrigerator I retrieved a shallow and wide white porcelain serving bowl, and several ramekins. I easily could have put the buttons into plastic food containers (which is how I store them anyway), but again, I wanted to make the invitation to play appealing and inviting.
Any of the following sets of buttons will work well for this activity. Since this invitation to play I have bought a set of shape buttons because I am interested to see how Corinne responds to the various sizes and shapes of the buttons. I like the set with print, too, because is adds one more mathematical element. I included below lots of different types of buttons because it provides for even more open ended play.
I filled the serving bowl with the buttons, and placed the ramekins in sets of four on both sides of the serving bowl.
The first thing Corinne did was to dig her hands into the buttons. She grabbed handfuls of buttons and dropped them back into the bowl. The buttons made the most delightful sound as they hit the bowl and other buttons. She did this several times, and compared the sound of the buttons to other things she was familiar with. She compared it to the sound of rain, and her cowboy boots in the wood floor, and the what “lots and lots and lots of bouncy balls” would sound like if they were let loose in my kitchen.
She then grabbed handfuls of buttons and dropped them into the ramekins. She started with one handful per ramekin, counting as she dropped them, and then made a second round until she was out of buttons.
Once all the buttons had been distributed, she looked at me and asked, “Now what, Mom?”
“Well, what would you like to do with them?” I responded.
The play continued, and I am reminded of how invitations to play are most successful when they are open ended. How Corinne used the buttons and the ramekins was completely her choice, but I reflect on the math skills that were reinforced by this activity.
At one point, Corinne made a literary connection (and math, too), about her bowl of buttons. She referred to the book The Button Box, which is one in our personal library and one that we read frequently in preschool math. I’ve included some of our other favorites, too, as well as three of my favorite teaching and parent resource books about playful learning.