Fun Buttoning Activities

Buttoning activities for kids

Using a few fun buttoning activities is powerful when it comes to teaching kids how to button. When you add fun button practice to the functional task of learning to button a shirt or pants, kids can gain independence. Let’s check out some fun buttoning and unbuttoning activities that kids will love. Get ready to fasten a button and build skills!

Buttoning activities for kids

Today, I’ve got a creative way to practice a fine motor task that is often times a tricky for little fumbling fingers: teaching kids how to button…and with a recycled egg carton no less!  

Read more for creative tips and tools to practice buttoning with kids:   As an Occupational Therapist working with kiddos, I often times had children (and adults!) with goals to improve functional skills like buttoning and managing clothing fasteners.  

The best thing (to me) about OT is helping folks to work towards independence in meaningful activities and encouraging self-confidence in function through fun and creative ways.  

Imaging fumbling to fasten buttons in a row on a shirt or jacket.  Trying to push that little button through  the hole of the shirt, but struggling.  But, you have to keep working on it, because it’s something you want to do yourself.  But it’s just so hard.  Still, you keep trying. Over and over again. It’s just not fun.

That’s where fun button practice activities come into play!

This egg carton buttoning activity is definitely fun and works on a task that can get real boring, real quick.  

There is something a little more happy about these buttons and a recycled egg carton. It’s part of our 31 Days of Occupational Therapy series and it’s been a big hit in our house, lately.

Teach kids how to button with this cute egg carton buttoning activity!  This is fun to make while working on fine motor skills and helping kids with a difficult self-care task.

Skills needed for buttoning

First, let’s talk about why buttoning a shirt is so hard for some kids. When teaching a child to button a shirt or unbutton clothing, sometimes breaking down the task of HOW to button is the hardest part.

You really need a lot of skills in order to button a shirt.  

  • Both hands need to work together in a coordinated manner while doing different movements.
  • Buttons are small in most cases and require a good grasp to hold the edge of the button
  • Hands need intrinsic hand strength and arch development to hold the button and push it through the button hole.  
  • Then there is the other hand working to hold that button hole, with bilateral coordination.  
  • But first, you need to make sure the buttons and holes are lined up correctly.
  • There is a lot of problem solving and sequencing involved in buttoning.  

All of this is done while wearing the shirt and at an awkward position, while looking down.  If any of these areas are a problem area, then buttoning a shirt immediately becomes much more difficult.   

Teach Kids How to Button

There are a few ways that make learning the steps of buttoning a bit easier:  

  • Practice unbuttoning first.  
  • Break down steps of buttoning.  
  • Use consistent verbal and physical cues when helping the child button.  
  • If aligning buttons to the button holes is a difficult task, show them how to take this part a step at a time, by lining up the bottom button to the bottom hole. 
  • Practice buttoning from bottom to top.  The child will have more room to work and a better view of the buttons at the bottom of a vest or shirt.
  • Practice buttoning with shirts/vests that are not visually distracting.  Use a white shirt with colored buttons.  You can also add a dot of paint to buttons to make them stand out.
  • At first, practice buttoning with a shirt laying on the child’s lap or table, and  positioned like it would be on their body.  Practicing with a different shirt on the table gives the child more room to see the buttons and how their hands are working than if they are buttoning on their body. 
  • Then, practice with an over-shirt, with the shirt on their body.
  • Practice with larger buttons.
  • Iron the button and hole edges of the shirt for a stiffer material to work with.
  • Practice with a jacket that is made with a thicker material, like corduroy.
  • For younger kids (age 3) you can snip the button hole just a little to make buttoning easier.

Backward Chaining in Buttoning

Backward chaining is a therapy term that refers to breaking down a task in order to teach specific skills. In learning how to button or unbutton, therapists can use backward chaining to teach kids how to do each step of buttoning in a sequence.

Backward chaining encourages success in buttoning by starting with the last step.

You can teach buttoning skills this way by working on just this last step with your child until they have mastered it. Then, work on the previous step. Gradually, add more steps to the buttoning task until they are able to complete the whole process.

Backward chaining encourages self-confidence and success in learning new skills.

Buttoning Activities

This buttoning activity uses a recycled egg carton to work on the specific skills needed to fasten buttons. These are great buttoning activities for preschoolers and children struggling with the fine motor components of managing buttons on their clothing.

Try these buttoning activities:

  • Work on the fine motor skills needed to button by pushing coins into a piggy bank.
  • Cut a slit in felt and push a coin through the felt.
  • Push buttons through the lid of a recycled container.
  • Try these felt buttons to work on precision and dexterity.
  • Cut slits in paper and push buttons through the slits.
  • Make an egg carton buttoning activity (below)
  • Cut a slit in cardstock or construction paper.  Push buttons through the slits.  Try it with tissue paper, too.
  • Hold coins or buttons on the edge and press them into play dough so they are standing on their edge.
  • Thread beads onto pipe cleaners.

RELATED READ: Teach Kids How to Tie Their Own Shoes

Use buttons and paper to work on buttoning and unbuttoning activities. Use these buttoning occupational therapy tips.

RELATED READ: The Ultimate Guide to Teaching Kids to Dress Themselves

Teach buttoning and fastening buttons with this egg carton button activity.

Egg Carton Buttoning Activity

This is a fine motor activity to make the buttoning tool, so get the kids involved in the prep-work!  We made a similar egg carton shoe tying tool recently.  

Yes, sure.  You can work on buttoning and shoe tying with a plain old shirt or shoe. But, sometimes it is good to bring new experiences into the learning process.  

Adding a new way to practice makes it less boring and kids will be excited to try working those buttons again and again.  

You’ll need just a few materials to make this egg carton buttoning activity:

Attach buttons to an egg carton to work on buttoning skills with kids. Includes other buttoning activities for kids.

RELATED READ: Teach Kids How to Zipper

  1. Start by poking the corn holder into the bottoms of the egg carton.  You want four holes for each button.  
  2. Then thread the pipe cleaner through one of the holes, and through the button and back down through the egg carton, like this:   
Teach kids how to button with this cute egg carton buttoning activity!  This is fun to make while working on fine motor skills and helping kids with a difficult self-care task.

3. Bend the pipe cleaner back up through the holes and back down to the inside of the egg carton.  

4. Twist the pipe cleaner ends together to secure the button.  You will want the button to have some give and not be completely flat against the egg carton.

Work on buttoning activities with an egg carton and buttons.

5. Then, start practicing the buttons.  

6. Use a long ribbon with slits cut lengthwise.  

7. Practice with the egg carton on your child’s lap or on the tabletop in front of them.  

Teach kids how to button with this cute egg carton buttoning activity!  This is fun to make while working on fine motor skills and helping kids with a difficult self-care task.
Teach kids how to button with this cute egg carton buttoning activity!  This is fun to make while working on fine motor skills and helping kids with a difficult self-care task.

For more buttoning activities for kids, try using paper on the buttons, too. Use tissue paper on the buttons for more refined buttoning practice.  We also used squares of cardstock and cut up cereal boxes.  Make sure the buttons are not flush against the egg carton.

Buttoning activities and tips to teach kids to button and unbutton a shirt.

More Buttoning Activities

Looking for even more ways to practice buttoning?  These are some of my favorite items on the market.  

When a child needs to work on some skills for their independence, toys can be the way to go!  These toys are great for developing independence in dressing skills.  This post contains affiliate links.  

Small World Toys Learning – Before and After is great for kids who need to gain insight into concepts of before and after.  You can not put your shoes on before you put your socks on.  Cognitive concepts can be tricky for children to understand if auditory processing of these ideas are difficult.

This Special Needs Sensory Activity Apron (Children & Adult Sizes) allows the child to manage the clothing fasteners right on their lap.  This is so great for children with motor planning difficulties.  

You could also use a Montessori Buttoning Frame with Large Buttons Dressing Frame and lay it right on the child’s lap.  

Childrens Factory Manual Dexterity Vests – Button-Zipper Combo Vest is a good way to practice buttons and zippers right on the child.  

 Learning to Get Dressed Monkey is a fun toy for clothing fasteners.  

Practice basic clothing fastener skills like buttons, zippers, snaps, and ties with the Melissa & Doug Basic Skills Board.  The bright colors are fun and will get little fingers moving on clothing fasteners.

Teach kids how to button with this cute egg carton buttoning activity!  This is fun to make while working on fine motor skills and helping kids with a difficult self-care task.
How to teach buttoning to kids including tips from occupational therapy for buttoning skills.
Teach buttoning skills to kids with fun buttoning activities.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Weaving Projects for Kids

weaving projects for kids

Recently, I was looking into new ways to challenge fine motor skills for my clients – especially ones that did not require purchasing new materials. I wanted something that could challenge scissors use, problem solving, sequencing, attention, and could be used in prep for ADL skills, like buttoning. Then, it came to me: weaving!

Weaving projects for kids including simple weaving and complex weaving activities to work on fine motor skills.

Weaving Projects for Kids

Weaving projects and craft are so simple, yet so effective – even the clients that I thought would be frustrated by this old-school craft were super proud of their work. Weaving is something you can do in many different ways, typically dependent on skill level and desired outcomes.

Since we are talking about buttoning skills, I am offering two different options: an advanced one for the kiddos that are almost ready to button independently, and a
beginner version for those who are not quite ready to button yet. I hope you adapt these crafts as needed to meet the “just-right” challenge!

Related: Feathers and Burlap Weaving activity that builds bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, pinch, grip, and dexterity.

Complex Weaving Instructions

  1. With two pieces of paper of different colors, cut strips of any thickness or length you’d like – just make sure you have an even number. The thinner and longer you cut them, the bigger the challenge. I like to use two different colors to make the task easier to understand and add visual interest.
  2. Cut holes for threading. Half of your strips (or all of one color) need holes for threading. Have your kiddos figure out how big the cuts need to be in order to fit the other strips of paper through.
  3. Fold the paper in order to cut two holes, side by side, throughout the strip of
    paper. This will be where you weave the other strips of paper through.
  4. Begin Weaving.
  5. Weave the remaining strips of paper (the ones without the holes) into the paper
    with the holes, making a basket-weave pattern.
  6. Here is where those buttoning skills come into play! The practice of moving the
    strip of paper through one hole and up and over through the next hole mimics the actions of buttoning and unbuttoning.

If you are creating a specific craft, here is where you can make the weaved pattern into your kids’ desired shape! If you are unsure what you could offer, see the examples below.

  1. Draw the desired object on top of the weaved pattern OR use simple print out to guide the scissors.
  2. Cut the object out.
  3. Add extra paper or decorative objects with glue to seal the edges if you’d like!

Does this sound a bit too challenging for one of your kids? You can lower the difficulty in a few different ways, but below is one idea that is particularly useful if your child demonstrates difficulty with visual motor or perception skills that are required for buttoning.

Simple Weaving Instructions

  1. With two pieces of paper of different colors:
    a. Cut multiple, 1-inch thick straight lines to the edge of one piece of paper, leaving about an inch uncut on one edge to “hold” all the strips together.
    b. Cut 1-inch strips of the other piece of paper.
  2. Simply overlap the loose strips of paper onto the other cut paper, every other to make a checkerboard pattern.
  3. Maybe add a gluing or stapling component to challenge them in a different way!

Weaving Projects for kids

I know that it’s so much easier to motivate kids to complete a craft or activity if it is related to a season, holiday, or something that they are personally interested in. That’s one reason why I love weaving crafts – they are so simple at their base, that they can truly be used for anything!

Fall Weaving Crafts- Plaid shirts, apple baskets, spider webs, or hay bales.
Winter Weaving Crafts- Sweaters, holiday gifts, Christmas Stockings, or candy canes
Spring Weaving Crafts- Easter baskets, Spring dresses, umbrellas, or raincoats
Summer Weaving Crafts- Picnic blankets, picnic baskets, or beach towels.

Or for the sporty kiddos in your life, make basketball hoops, soccer goals, tennis rackets, or hockey goalie helmets! The possibilities with weaving projects really are endless.

Here are some additional weaving and buttoning crafts to get the ball rolling!

More Fine Motor ideas to build skills:

Working on building skills this summer? The Summer OT Bundle is for you!

Summer occupational therapy activities bundle

Work on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, scissor skills, and much more so that kids can accomplish self-care tasks, learn, and grow through play all summer long.

This bundle is perfect for the pediatric occupational therapist who needs resources and tools to use in summer therapy sessions, home programs, or extended school year therapy plans.

This bundle is perfect for parents, grandparents, and caregivers looking to provide developmental fine motor activities designed to help kids build skills.

  • Send kids back to school in the Fall without worrying about the “Summer Slide”.
  • Use these materials to work on areas like hand strength, fine motor development, scissor skills, handwriting, pencil control, pencil grasp, sensory play experiences, and much more. Just pull out the pages or activities you need for your child, and develop skills through play!

The Summer OT Bundle includes 19 resources that you can print and use over and over again:

Helping children develop and achieve functional skills this summer was never so easy (or fun!)

Be sure to grab the Summer OT Bundle, a HUGE resource of therapy tools and activities for all things building skills this summer.

Grab the Summer OT Bundle here.

Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

The Ultimate Guide to Independence with Clothing Fasteners

If you’ve been following the Functional Skills for Kids series this year, then you know the wealth of information that has been shared.  Each month, the team of OT and PT bloggers have broken down a functional task into it’s development, necessary components, and strategies for increasing independence.  This month brings buttons, snaps, buckles, and the ultimate guide to independence with clothing fasteners.  
 
Check out the links below to find everything you need to help kids with management of clothing fasteners with increased independence.  From pincer grasp to shoulder girdle stabilization and sensory processing to visual motor skills, children have a lot of precursors to master before they can independently put on their jacket or managing their clothing in the school bathroom.  


 
 
 

The Ultimate Guide to Independence with Clothing Fasteners

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Functional Skills for Kids series
 
 Functional Skills for Kids and a guide to independence with clothing fasteners.
 
 

Clothing Fasteners and Sensory Processing Issues

Sensory processing affects everything we do.  From movement and learning on down to the tiniest snaps and buttons that adorn our clothing.  Many times, children with problems with sensory processing skills have difficulty with manipulating clothing fasteners. 


Here, you will find sensory-related issues that may impact a child’s ability to fasten and manipulate clothing fasteners, strategies that can help with independence in addressing sensory processing issues, and sensory-friendly clothing fastener solutions. 


Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues can affect buttons, snaps, buckles, and zippers.



Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues

Clothing Fasteners and Sensory Issues

Today in the Functional Skills for Kids series, ten Occupational Therapist and Physical Therapist bloggers are sharing everything there is to know about manipulating buttons, snaps, zippers, and buckles.  


The child with sensory processing issues may experience patterns of behavior related to many skills needed for managing clothing fasteners. In turn, a difficulty in movement, reactions, balance, and posture can interfere with managing buttons, zippers, snaps, and buckles.   Clumsy fine motor skills may present during manipulation of clothing fasteners.  


There are many other issues that present with sensory processing problems that may present during management of clothing fasteners:

Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues

 

Vestibular Sensory and clothing fasteners:

Poor bilateral coordination– Children with poor sensory processing often times present with bilateral coordination difficulties. Gross motor tasks and coordinated use of the hands in fine motor tasks at midline appear to be clumsy.  Managing buttons, snaps, and zippers are difficult when asking these children to use their hands together. Tasks such as buttoning and zipping require one hand to perform a precision task while the other hand assists.  These types of skills challenge the child with poor bilateral coordination.  While children with poor bilateral coordination may not have a clear established dominant hand, it can be difficult to manipulate buttons when one hand is not defined as the “skilled” hand. 


Difficulty with movement– Children with unmet sensory needs can present as fidgety and uncoordinated, making clothing fastener management quite difficult. 


Low Muscle Tone– Children with sensory processing difficulties quite often present with low tone. Weakness in the arms, shoulder girdle, and core can prompt the child to stabilize on table surfaces or with accommodating positioning.  These issues along with tone and strength weaknesses in the hands then prevents the child from manipulating clothing fasteners or enduring the length of a buttoning/zippering/etc task.  Fatigue can limit training sessions or prevent the child from completing clothing fastener tasks in an efficient manner


Poor motor planning (dyspraxia)–  A vestibular dysfunction can result in poor motor planning with the child having trouble in planning out the sequence of buttoning and unbuttoning clothing, or engaging a zipper into the chamber, then pulling up the pull. It can be difficult for these children to generalize what they have practice on a dressing board to clothing on the body.  Likewise, generalizing skills they have practiced with one sweater (and one size buttons/clothing material/ button hole opening/etc) to another sweater or one zipper to another zipper can be difficult.


Proprioceptive Issues and clothing fasteners:

Seek sensory feedback– Children who present with proprioceptive dysfunction may seek out sensory feedback.  Snaps or zippers can be a source of sensory feedback in an inefficient manner.


Inefficient body awareness– See below.


Inefficient grading of movement– Managing clothing fasteners can be difficult for the child who has trouble grading the amount of movement needed for positioning their arms and maintaining position while fastening clothing.  These children might grip the zipper pull too lightly or too tightly making fastening a zipper difficult.  Buttons might pull off of clothing when the child with grading issues attempts to button or unbutton clothing. 


Poor motor planning (dyspraxia)– See below


Tactile Sensory Needs and clothing fasteners:

Hypersensitive to touch (Tactile Defensiveness)– The child with tactile defensiveness may have trouble manipulating clothing fasteners.  Certain clothing materials can be offensive to children with tactile defensiveness.  The texture of a zipper or Velcro can cause an adverse reaction.  Stiff collars or zippers, belts, and rough clothing textures and fasteners can cause a negative reaction from the child who is hypersensitive to touch.  These children may prefer clothing without fasteners or refuse to wear coats or jackets with these offensive fasteners.  


Hyposensitivity or an under-responsiveness to touch– The child with hyposensitivity to touch may present during an attempt to complete clothing fasteners.  These children may fail to realize that they have omitted buttons or snaps on their clothing.  


Poor tactile discrimination– Children who have difficulty with discriminating touch have difficulty manipulating items and using their hands without looking at what their hands are doing.  These children may be unable to perform the steps of buttoning and unbuttoning, zippering, and snapping clothing fasteners without visual cues.  They might perform these tasks in peculiar manners with inefficient grasps.   These children may seem to touch their clothing fasteners excessively, such as run their fingers up and down the zipper.  They enjoy the sensory feedback from running their hands over clothing fasteners.  


Poor tactile perception–  The child with poor tactile perception  will have trouble with perceiving the location of button holes without visually looking at the fasteners.  They will have trouble identifying the two sides of a zipper by touch.


Poor body awareness–  Children with sensory processing issues often times have trouble with body awareness.  They have difficulty knowing where their body is in space and how to move it in order to perform tasks.  Moving the arms in order to perform fine motor tasks such as buttoning and unbuttoning a sweater can be quite difficult.  


Poor motor planning (dyspraxia)–  Sensory processing issues may present with resulting dyspraxia or motor planning difficulties.  These kids have trouble organizing and following through with the movement needed to perform tasks such as buttoning and zippering.  These children will have trouble with precision of fine motor manipulation, making engaging a zipper and buttoning and unbuttoning very difficult. 

Visual Spatial Processing and clothing fasteners:

Difficulty seeing with eyes working as a “team”, particularly when managing fasteners on the body.


Difficulty shifting gaze from different planes when managing fasteners on the body.


Confuse or mis-align buttons to button holes. May present with increased difficulty when managing buttons on the body.


Difficulty with sequential tasks in buttoning or zipper management.

Looking at all of these different areas, it is easy to see why the child with sensory processing issues has trouble with managing clothing fasteners!

Many children have several of the above issues that present as a result of sensory concerns.  Bilateral coordination or low tone concerns may be accompanied by evidence of poor sensory processing.  Observations of issues described above may be part of the explanation for difficulty with fine motor manipulation, but it is important to note that every child is different and what is described here may not be the entire story.  Strategies and descriptions here will not explain every issue with clothing fasteners when sensory issues are present.


So, what is to be done to help kids with building independence and carrying over skills to allow kids to independently managing buttons, zippers, snaps, and buckles on their clothing?


RELATED READ: Zipper Activities for Kids

Sensory Strategies for clothing fasteners:

Some children with tactile discrimination difficulties have trouble processing the the spatial or temporal information gathered through touch during tasks such as managing clothing fasteners. Intervention for tactile dysfunction can be done along with intervention for dyspraxia.  Deep pressure, activities that provide tactile sensation with temporal and spatial qualities, brushing the skin, using vibrating stimulation to the skin, and tactile play activities can help with discrimination needed for clothing fasteners.  


Sensory needs may benefit from heavy input through the hands, strengthening, positioning, visual and verbal cues, practicing fastener management on the body, and practicing fasteners while seated or standing. 

Sensory Strategies to Help Kids with Clothing Fasteners



Affiliate links are included in this post. 

Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues



Provide vibrating tactile sensory input with this Orbeez foot spa.  Typically, this toy is used with water beads for a sensory play activity.  We filled ours with crafting pom poms in various sizes and textures.  The vibrating bottom provides a vibratory tactile sensation, which is perfect for the hands. We explored the textures of the crafting pom poms as the foot spa vibrated and shook the pom poms.  Add additional components to this activity with small hidden toys that allow for visual discrimination, tactile perception, and awareness of body movements. 

Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues using vibrating tactile sensory tools



More sensory strategies that can help with independence in clothing fasteners:

  • A weighted weighted blanket can be a source of heavy input for proprioception needs.  
  • Outline the button holes with a dark color thread or marker for easy visual perception.
  • Deep pressure through the hands is a technique that sometimes helps when manipulating clothing fasteners.  Try using fingerless gloves in stretch material when practicing clothing fasteners.  The fingers are able to manipulate the buttons or zippers and the hand and joints receive deep pressure and warmth.
Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues using fingerless gloves
Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues using fingerless gloves
Clothing fasteners and sensory processing issues using fingerless gloves

Teach Buttoning Skills with Heart Buttons

Teaching kids functional skills like how to button their coat happens naturally during a day’s progression.  You help your Toddler or Preschooler into their coat before an outing and sneak in a few verbal cues while you show them how to slip the button through the button hole.  Then, before you blink your eyes, they are saying “I do it, Mommy!” and your little one is on their way to independence. This would be a great addition to a Valentine’s Day theme in occupational therapy.
 
NOW, I am a huge supporter of teaching kids to do things like buttoning and shoe tying in a natural setting, with real buttons and shoe laces and on their body.  BUT, sometimes a child just needs a fun way to practice the skills that make up the task of buttoning a button.  Other times, it’s just fun to practice buttoning so that kids can show off what they can do and get a little boost of self confidence.  
 
This Buttoning Skills Activity is easy to put together, fun to do, and a creative way to practice buttoning.  Before you know it, your little “do it myself”-er will be buttoning their pajamas up in a flash.  For now, we play our way to independence!
 
Teach kids how to button with this easy DIY buttoning teaching tool for fine motor practice and play, with hearts. Perfect for Valentine's Day
 
 

Teach Kids Buttoning Skills with a DIY dressing board

 
 
This post contains affiliate links.
 
So, we’ve practiced buttoning with egg cartons and tissue paper.  Today, I’ve got a new idea for you.  We used Foam Hearts to practice precision in fine motor skills while working on the motor control and dexterity needed for buttoning.  This was such a fun activity for my preschooler to do.  She can button large buttons on her body at this point, so it wasn’t hard for her to practice these motor skills.  BUT, adding the novel component of flimsy fabric and fragile paper made her practice the fine motor control that she needs for buttoning small buttons and many fine motor tasks.
 
To make a DIY heart button activity, you’ll need just a few items.
Heavy Cardstock
Embroidary Thread
(we received ours from www.craftprojectideas.com)
Scissors
 
Teach kids how to button with this easy DIY buttoning teaching tool for fine motor practice and play, with hearts. Perfect for Valentine's Day
 
This is an easy project to throw together, and equally adaptable to your child’s age and fine motor needs.  We made out Buttons with Foam Hearts, but for a child who needs more help with buttoning skills or has weaker fine motor control, use cardboard or plastic buttons.  
 
Sew the foam hearts/buttons along the edge of a piece of felt.  We used a thicker felt sheet for more control.  A thinner piece of felt would be more like fabric of clothing, so if you are working on certain aspects of buttoning, like controlling the material with two hands in a coordinated manner, you can make your buttoning project with fabric or thinner felt.
 
Use a cross-stitch pattern to simply sew the Foam Hearts
in an “x”.  This is a great real-life skill activity for older kids.  Threading a the large needle is a nice fine motor task and the project is so simple that it’s a great beginner sewing activity for kids. 
 
Fold the felt over and add snips for button holes and you have a nice portable practice activity!
 
We practiced buttoning with the felt a few times and then added another way to practice.  I marked button holes on a sheet of thick Cardstock
.  After cutting the holes with scissors, my preschooler practiced pulling the foam buttons through the holes.  Using paper to practice is a real workout for little fingers as the paper will tear with too much force.  The point for this part of the activity is to practice pushing the button through the hole and pulling it out.  The paper is a great reminder that the button slides through the button hole easily when both hands are working together in a coordinated manner. 
 
TIP: Snip the cardstock or Stiff Felt Sheet
button holes just a bit longer than you think you need to for kids who are working on buttoning skills. You can also cut the hole wider for easier buttoning.  This is one way to grade the activity for kids who need help learning how to button their clothes.
 

 

 
Teach kids how to button with this easy DIY buttoning teaching tool for fine motor practice and play, with hearts. Perfect for Valentine's Day
 
More ways to teach kids buttoning skills using this DIY button project:
 
  1. Lay the fabric on the child’s lap as a beginner task.  This is a good way for the child to see what they are doing as their hands are working together on the buttons.
  2. NEXT, lay the fabric on the child’s lap, BUT position it so that it would be if the child were buttoning a coat on their body.  Make sure the buttons are on the child’s lap and not on their truck for easier accessibility and success.
  3. THEN, position the buttoning activity up higher on the child’s trunk to simulate buttoning a shirt or coat on the child.
  4. Finally, move on to teaching buttoning with real-life articles of clothing.  
Be sure to provide real clothing items along the way of teaching buttoning skills, while adding in fun motor planning activities like this DIY Button activity or our egg carton buttoning activity.  Learning through play in creative ways is fun!
 
This post is part of the Activities for Kids blog hop. This month, each blogger is posting about hearts.  Stop by to see what our friends have come up with:
 
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
FREE Number Bingo // The STEM Laboratory
Heart Match Up Activity // Frogs, Snails and Puppy
Dog Tails
Counting Roses // Best Toys 4 Toddlers
Love Bug Clock // Fairy Poppins
Heart Wreath // Powerful Mothering
Magic Heart Sight Words // Playdough to
Plato
Valentine Numbers and Counting Hearts // Play and Learn Everyday
I Spy Valentine’s Day Heart Bottle// The Pleasantest Thing
Color Sorting Hearts // Modern Preschool
Candy Heart Addition Cards // The Kindergarten
Connection
 
 
 
Teach kids how to button with this easy DIY buttoning teaching tool for fine motor practice and play, with hearts. Perfect for Valentine's Day
 
 
MORE fine motor activities that we love and you will too:
 
Neat Pincer Grasp Fine Motor Activity Buttoning Tips and Tricks
 
 

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.