Go, Button!

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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Comments (11 )

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  1. Interesting concept, though kids can be sneaky. What do you do when they cheat.

    • carolcovin says:

      An age-old problem, Jon! You take into account their age and decide if you are going to call them on it or let them think they put one over on you, or don't even know they are playing wrong.

  2. That is a good question Jon. What would you do? Nevertheless it is an interesting game that can teach many skills a child (doesn't cheat) will need to learn as they grow. 🙂

  3. This is a perfect game for , as you say a number of different skills for children to learn from. What interested me to , in the age of all things computer related that basic games like this are still ones that children love.

    • carolcovin says:

      I love finding activities that leave the video games in the backpack. The value of visits with grandparents is uninterrupted face time with adults, so it needs to be fun!

  4. JeriWB says:

    I would totally be the little kid who would cheat on this game…

  5. patweber says:

    I think I will skip this one. My youngest granddaughter already cheats on board games. When she cheats, I call FOUL on her, ask her to think about things and why she did such a thing. Then if I don't get an answer I just say, well time to quit playing then because I won't be caught by your cheating again. And to add to that, if she is losing, she wants to quit playing. Ayeyaeyae.

  6. carolcovin says:

    You're a good role model, Pat. I either ignore it or correct it without confronting them over it, assuming they just made a mistake and it's my job to help them do it right. Just played Parcheesi with my 8 yo grandson this weekend and he routinely miscounted his moves, but he's now old enough that he doesn't get discouraged if I send him back home. But, sometimes I don't take advantage of such an opportunity, either. Is that cheating in reverse?

  7. Dan Meyers says:

    My dad does "grandpa school" with my three year old nephew and this would be great for them… I'll pass it on!

  8. carolcovin says:

    "Grandpa school"! What a great idea!