If you don't already have a collection of buttons at home, you are going to want to head out to your local craft store and pick some up. They can be used in so many ways with kids ... and having a variety on hand is also great for taking care of those buttons that seem to mysteriously disappear from clothing. This simple activity uses a button collection and pipe cleaners to work on fine motor skills.
You will need:
You may already have a foam block around. I found some foam in a package we recently received. I cut some pipe cleaners in half and pushed them into the foam so that they stuck up. You can use as many or few pipe cleaners as you'd like. I then poured some buttons in bowl and gave them to my daughter along with the pipe cleaners in foam. I encouraged her to see if she could get any of the buttons on the pipe cleaners.
It took her a few tries to slip a button onto the pipe cleaner. At first, it didn't look like it would work because the button hole seemed so much smaller than the width of the pipe cleaner. But then she realized that because the pipe cleaner was "soft and fuzzy" on the outside, a button could be squeezed on. While she carefully manipulated the buttons she was strengthening her fine motor skills which are so important for toddlers and preschoolers.
She worked very diligently to put buttons on each of the pipe cleaners. When she was done she said she made button trees. Now I wouldn't have thought of that, but they do resemble a button forest, don't you think?
Since this was her first time playing with buttons and pipe cleaners, I wanted the activity to be open ended so that she could explore. If you are looking for ways to extend this activity, you can have your child sort the buttons on matching colored pipe cleaners or have them make patterns on the pipe cleaners (red button, blue button, red button, blue button or big button, small button, big button, small button). There are so many learning concepts you can explore with this activity.