What You Can Do with Buttons: 8 Activities Youíll Splash with Color

What You Can Do with Buttons: 8 Activities Youíll Splash with Color

How many times have you put away an odd button with the hopes of using it again? If you have an old jar full of buttons you’ve collected over the years, now’s the time to use them: with your ESL class.

Here are some fun, fabulous activities and uses for those old buttons.


  1. 1

    Sock Puppets

    Making puppets out of old odd socks and buttons is as easy as pie. Students choose two buttons for the eyes, some yarn for the hair and draw a mouth and nose. Now, the best part about the sock puppets is how you’ll be able to use them for role plays and speaking activities. Some children are self-conscious about speaking in front of the class, but any group with a bunch of puppets is a pretty chatty group!

  2. 2

    Colorful Button Jewelry

    By simply stringing buttons, your class will be able to make rings, bracelets, necklaces and all sorts of pretty jewelry. These make lovely Mother’s Day gifts, but why not also use the fresh batch of jewelry for a shopping lesson? Divide students into pairs and have them practice different shopping scenarios. They may even wish to bargain and trade with their classmates!

  3. 3

    Button Barnyard

    Have your students work together for this fun collage. Give them a large piece of poster board and tell them they will create a barnyard full of animals. Give them plenty of buttons to use of varying sizes – if you’ve got big ones, so much the better. Show then how they can create a cat by placing a small round button on top of a large one. Or a chick with the same two buttons, only the smaller one is placed to side for the chick’s head. Try creating different animals with buttons and glue them all onto the poster board for a fun, colorful barnyard your little ones will love. Don’t forget to draw ears, beaks and tails to complete your animals.

  4. 4

    Button Bookmark

    Students often need sheets with the past and past participles of irregular verbs to study till they can get them all straight. So, with your help, and your colorful buttons, they can make bright bookmarks they can use in their English books. Hand out rectangular pieces of poster board and have students divide each into three columns. They must copy a list of irregular verbs and then proceed to complete the other two columns with the past and past participle for each. When they’re done they may decorate their new bookmark with a large button at the very top that will help mark a page in their books. But make sure they’re not around when you take a test!


  1. 5

    Button Bingo

    When you create your own fabulous Bingo cards, what do you have your students use as markers? Little pieces of paper you’ve torn or cut up? Doesn’t sound very fabulous. Use your supply of buttons and hand out enough for each student!

  2. 6

    Game Pieces

    You’ve designed your own colorful board game from scratch for guaranteed hours of fun. Now, all you need are some pieces your students will be able to move around the board. What will you use? How about some of your most fantastic and colorful buttons? If all you’ve got is some old boring ones, then ask your students to help you give them some pizzazz – decorate them with sequins or beads. Each student may even have his/her own to keep.

  3. 7

    Counting Song

    Teach your young learners the “Ten Little Indians” song, but with buttons: “One little two, little three, little buttons…” Buttons are also great for helping them learn to add and subtract in English.

  4. 8

    Button Toss

    Take a large piece of cardboard and divide it into as many cells as you’d like. Each cell must include a new vocabulary word, a question in English, a verb – or all three! You can make your board as fancy or as simple as you like. Hand out buttons to each of your students. Students toss one at a time and depending on where the button lands, they must use the word in a sentence, answer a question or say the verb in past, future, etc… You may also choose to make a board based on a theme, for example, Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

If you’re running out of buttons, ask your students to bring some. And don’t forget to raid your mother’s or grandmother’s sewing basket! There are surely lots of buttons there.

And if you’re a fan of our “What You Can Do with…” articles be sure to pick up a copy of our latest e-book Amazing Lessons You Can Teach with Things around You. Here, you’ll find our very best lesson ideas for activities you can do with things like a ball, a blindfold, or a whistle. Download your copy today and have fun, engaging activities with common, ordinary things!

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