Groovy Buttons

In this lesson, children will read a book about Pete the Cat. As Pete loses the buttons from his shirt, the children will count down from four to zero.

Math Lesson for:

Toddlers/Preschoolers
(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

Content Area:

Algebra
Numbers and Operations

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another
  • Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates
  • Analyze change in various contexts

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Understanding the effects of adding and subtracting whole numbers
  • Using a variety of methods and tools to compute—including objects, mental computation, estimation, paper and pencils and calculators
  • Developing and using strategies for adding and subtracting
  • Describing quantitative change such as a student growing two inches

Groovy Buttons

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • The book, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean
  • Multicolored, round dot stickers
  • Round 3/4″ diameter see-through labels in assorted colors
  • Yellow paper shirts

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. Ask the children if they know Pete the Cat. (Pete the Cat is a popular children’s book series complete with Pete the Cat merchandise.)
  2. Explain that today you will all read Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy ButtonsSay: “Pete the Cat has four buttons on his shirt, so we all are going to have four buttons on our shirts.” Have the children put four dot stickers on their shirts. Say: “You can put four dots on each circle to make each circle look more like a button.” Put four dot stickers on your own shirt as well.

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Read the story, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. As you read the story and Pete loses a button, have the children take one of the sticker buttons off of their own shirts and put the stickers onto their yellow paper shirts. Have them count how many buttons they have left on their own shirts to go along with how many buttons Pete has left on his shirt.
  2. The book will ask “How many buttons are left?” each time Pete loses a button. Before you turn the page, have the children tell you how many buttons are left on Pete’s shirt. The next page has the answer, as well as a number sentence. Have the children repeat the number sentences in unison.
  3. After each button pops off, there is a song that Pete sings. To download and teach the children the song, go to the following link: www.harpercollinschildrens.com/feature/petethecat/
  4. Continue until all of the buttons have been removed from the children’s shirts and placed on their yellow paper shirts. The children can use these paper shirts to re-tell the story to a friend or family member.

Extend the Activity

  • Create a little book with the subtraction equations from the book. Each time Pete loses a button and you read the number sentence in the book, have the children write down the number answer to the equation in their books.
  • After you count down from four to zero, count back up. Read the book backwards. Pete has no more buttons on his shirt, but then his Mom sews a button back on his shirt. How many buttons does Pete have on his shirt now? One.  0 + 1 = 1. You can also use the yellow shirts and stickers to have the children count the buttons that Pete’s mom sews back onto his shirt.

Step 4: Teach math vocabulary.

  • How many: The total or sum (e.g., “How many buttons are left on Pete’s shirt?”)

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Need help with one-to-one correspondence
Home child care providers may:
  • Help the child count the number of buttons remaining on the shirt after a button pops off. Then help the child count the buttons/stickers on his/her yellow sheet.
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Easily manipulate numbers one through four
  • Need help understanding the reciprocal relationship between subtraction and addition
Home child care providers may:
  • Create a little book with the subtraction equations from the book. Each time Pete loses a button and you read the number sentence in the book, have the children write down the number answer to the equation in their books.
  • After you count down from four to zero, count back up. Read the book backwards. Pete has no more buttons on his shirt, but then his Mom sews a button back on his shirt. How many buttons does Pete have on his shirt now? (One. 0+1=1) You can also use the yellow shirts and stickers to have the children count the buttons that Pete’s mom sews back onto his shirt.

Suggested Books

  • Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean (New York: Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2012)

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

  • Play a game of hide and seek. Count the number of children in the class. As each child is found, create a number sentence that illustrates the number of children hidden and the number of children found. You can even make up a song similar to the one that Pete the Cat sings when he loses a button.

Web Resources

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