When I was a child my mother had a jar full of buttons that she used when she made us dresses, waggas (what she called bed quilts), jumpers etc. She collected them. She even cut them off worn out clothes. Then when it was a rainy day and we were inside we would pull out the bottle and sort them, by colour, by size, by texture, make patterns with them, sew them on to things and count them! It was a fun activity. I can't imagine the children I teach, being interested in counting buttons too often, but recently when we decorated cardboard birds as a follow up activity to Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot (Anna Brandford & Sarah Davis) a large number of children chose to decorate theirs with coloured buttons of varying sizes that I had put out with the other collage materials. And I was surprised to see some choose to give a red button the pride of place on their bird ... no doubt as a result of the story where Violet finds a red button in the dirt at the Saturday markets.
While investigating this day further I learned that there is also World Button Day on 16th November, so I thought that I better think some more about picture books with buttons as a focus. A recent purchase, Button Boy by Rebecca Young and Sue deGennaro is about a boy called Banjo who collects buttons and takes them home to his grandmother who then sews them onto his favourite jumper. He is an endearing character and this story of friendship is about much more than collecting buttons.
Another book that would fit with this theme is Button Up!: Wrinkled Rhymes by Alice Schertle and Petra Mathers. This collection of poems is about clothes so buttons feature in some, but in particular the one that the anthology is named for. The interest here lies in the fact that the articles of clothing have been anthropomorphised and the poems are told from the clothing's point of view.
Moomin and the Birthday Button was the first of a new set of picture books about the Moomins, fictional characters of Tove Jansson which was released to coincide with the Moomins' 65th anniversary. It would also make a good starting point for a study of buttons.
There is also a book in Michael Dahl's 'Know Your Numbers' series called Bunches of Buttons which is about counting in tens. If you have a bottle of buttons this could make a fun maths activity with prep classes.
There, five books to get you started on buttons! And, I haven't even mentioned Corduroy by Don Freeman and none of them are craft books!