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Buttons! Buttons!

  • Lesson
Location: Unknown

In the following lesson, students participate in activities in which they focus on connections between mathematics and children's literature. Specifically, students use clues to sort and classify buttons.

Story Summary  

Toad has lost a button and Frog helps him look for it. During the search, several buttons are found, but each time Toad tells Frog why that button is not his button.  After a frustrated Toad goes home empty-handed, he finds his button lying on the floor of his own home!  He makes a special gift for his friend, Frog.


829 buttons


Structuring the Investigation  

Start the lesson by reading the entire story aloud.

Then, distribute bags of buttons to small groups of students. Direct them to empty the bags onto their tables. Reread the story, stopping after each description Toad provides to allow students to eliminate buttons that couldn't possibly be Toad's. At the conclusion of the reading, one button should remain. Ask students to describe the remaining button.

Distribute copies of the Buttons! Buttons! Activity Sheet to the students.

pdficonButtons! Buttons! Activity Sheet

Direct students to cross off buttons that Toad says are not his after carefully reading each of the clues at the top of the page. After the final clue is read, one button that is not crossed off should remain on the activity sheet.

Ask students to describe the remaining button in the space provided.

Encourage students to discuss how they eliminated groups of buttons; for example, if the button is not black, it must be white.

Check the activity sheet by rereading the story.


Lobel, Arnold. Frog & Toad Are Friends. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1970.

  • Buttons! Buttons! Activity Sheet 
  • Book: Frog & Toad Are Friends, by Arnold Lobel
  • Sets of black, white, large, small, thick, thin, square, round, two-hole, and four-hole buttons
  • Crayons


  1. Provide students with a collection of buttons. Ask them to choose one of the buttons secretly and hold a class discussion to help others guess which button they have selected.
  2. Students can create a similar set of clues and have other students determine which buttons should be eliminated and which one button would remain.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Use clues when sorting and classifying buttons.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties.
  • Recognize, describe, and extend patterns such as sequences of sounds and shapes or simple numeric patterns and translate from one representation to another.
  • Analyze how both repeating and growing patterns are generated.

Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

-Kindergarten, Counting & Cardinality

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.C.6
    Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies.

-Kindergarten, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.B.3
    Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.

Common Core State Standards – Practice

  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP4
    Model with mathematics.
  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP5
    Use appropriate tools strategically.