If you remember playing Go, Fish! when you were young, you might want to introduce a different version for your grandchildren, using buttons.


Button-Red (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  • A range of buttons of various sizes, colors and shapes, that each have at least two so they can be paired
  • One large container for the buttons that you cannot see through
  • Small boxes that you cannot see through


  • Have each of your grandchildren draw out 7 buttons from the no-see-through container and put them in their own no-see-through boxes
  • Draw out your own seven buttons and put them in your own box
  • If anyone has any pairs of buttons, they can lay them down on the table in front of them to start. If there are more than two of the same kind, they can all be laid out together
  • Starting with the grandchild on your left, invite them to ask anyone in the circle if they have a button that matches one they have in their own box.
  • For example, “Grandma, do you have any blue buttons?”
  • If yes, Grandma has to give up all her blue buttons
  • Every time there is a match, the pair or more of buttons is laid out on the table in front of whoever got the match
  • Continue until someone runs out of buttons. They are the winner.
  • Optional: in addition to colors, grandchildren can ask for buttons of a certain shape, number of holes, designed for coats or sweaters or shirts. Grandma and grandchild can agree in advance on what is considered small, medium and large

What Should Happen?

Young grandchildren will quickly start to recognize colors and shapes. Older grandchildren will start to notice other common characteristics of the buttons, like the number of holes or the kind of material they are made of – wood, plastic, or metal.

Why Is This Important?

Learning to recognize colors and shapes is a fundamental skill for young children.

Adults describe the world around them in terms of colors, for example.

“Stop at a red light. Go when it’s green.”

“Our house is the one with the red door.”

Colors can be a benchmark. “Is your knee black-and-blue?” “Is the grass green?”

Recognizing shapes helps prepare children to recognize numbers and letters.  

Noticing different characteristics of objects in a group helps older children start to sort objects, an important organizational skill.

Thanks to the book “Grandma’s Button Box” for this activity.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers”



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