15 Corduroy Activities For Toddlers – Before Five In A Row

by Melanie on June 2, 2014

What child doesn’t love Corduroy by Don Freeman?

This has been a favorite in our household for the past year and I was super pumped about planning activities around it!

For those who have never read it, it’s about a little toy bear wearing green corduroy overalls and sitting on a shelf in a department store. A little girl sees him and wants to take him home with her, but her mother says they don’t have enough money and that he’s missing a button, anyway.

That night, he goes on an adventure in search of his missing button. He doesn’t find it. But it doesn’t matter because the girl’s love for him was never about the button! She returns to the store the next day with money from her own savings and takes him home with her. The story is about friendship and having a place where we belong.

Corduroy

Sorting bears and buttons by color.

 

Corduroy Activities

 

1) Types Of Cloth Tray

2) Buttons & Piggy Bank Tray

3) Buttons & Play-Doh Tray

4) “I’m Not Perfect” Song

5) Buttoning Practice

6) Escalator Adventure

7) Imagination Laundry

8) Buttons & Bears Color Sorting Tray

9) Search For The Lost Button

10) Happy Hotsauce’s Hat Hide & Seek

11) Reading With A Focus

12) Related Reading

13) Corduroy Actions

14) Broken Toys & Book Repair

15) Corduroy Craft

 

1) Types Of Cloth Tray

 

Corduroy

The bin: a variety of different fabrics. We talked about the materials of each article of clothing. These included cotton, wool, silk, jeans, khakis, and of course- corduroy!

Corduroy

Checking out the khaki pants.

 

2) Buttons & Piggy Bank Tray

 

Corduroy Buttons And Piggy Bank Tray

The tray: our set of jumbo-sized colorful buttons and the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Piggy Bank. The toy was out of batteries and since Rocket is currently obsessed with changing batteries, I included those on the tray for us to replace together. 

Corduroy Buttons And Piggy Bank Tray

These bright buttons are one of our favorite manipulatives. In consideration of little Corduroy’s search for his lost button, they were exactly what we needed for our theme!

 

3) Buttons & Play-Doh Tray

 

Corduroy Play Doh Tray

The tray: Play-Doh and a cup full of buttons.

Corduroy Play Doh Tray

The diverse shapes of these buttons were great for making imprints in the Play-Doh.

Corduroy Play Doh Tray

He also enjoyed standing them up vertically using the Play-Doh as a base.

 

4) “I’m Not Perfect” Song

 

This book is about a little bear who was loved despite his imperfection. We jammed to Laurie Berkner’s “I’m Not Perfect” all week and talked about unconditional love. Every child should know that his/her parents will always love them no matter what!

 

5) Buttoning Practice

 

Corduroy Play Doh Tray

We used this octopus toy to practice buttoning and other skills essential for getting dressed. You can browse Amazon for other Learn To Dress toys here.

Corduroy Play Doh Tray

For early buttoning practice, make sure to introduce them to BIG buttons! Don’t give them more than they can handle or you’ll just wind up with a frustrated tot. 

 

6) Escalator Adventure

 

There was a time in my younger years when I was quite the thrill seeker. I’ll spare you the details on this blog! As many other parents have discovered before me, priorities shift completely when you are suddenly responsible for itty bitty people.

Want to know what my idea of risk-taking is now?

Stepping onto an escalator with a newborn baby in one arm and holding a 2.5 year old’s hand with the other.

Seriously. Exhilarating.

This was Rocket’s first time stepping foot on an escalator. He was apprehensive at first, but intrigued and wanted to give it a try. Once he did it, he decided it was incredible and asked to do it again! And let me tell you, the thrill of seeing my toddler overcome a fear is way better than any of the thrills teenager Melanie once sought!

Unfortunately, the baby was ready to nurse by the time we reached the end, so we had to say goodbye to the escalator after a mere 1 trip up and 1 trip back down again.

But that one time was all it took to imprint a very special memory in his head. He has been talking about it ever since and continues to ask when we can do it again!

Side note: He chose to wear corduroy for our trip on the escalator. I love how much he gets into these literature-based activities! Before Five In A Row is such the right fit for him.

 

7) Imagination Laundry

 

If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that I don’t plan our lessons rigidly. Nothing is set in stone. Everything is malleable to the child’s interests. Many of my ideas fail miserably and that’s okay. If he’s not into it, we walk away from it and find something else to do. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CHILD.

As such, some of the best ideas are the ones he comes up with on a whim.

On laundry day, I dumped out 4 hampers full of clean clothes onto the bed. Yes, I said FOUR. I was playing catch-up from too many days of falling behind on the laundry and the pile to be folded was ENORMOUS.

As I folded, Rocket climbed the clothes and called it a mountain. Ha! He was right. It looked just like a mountain.

In Corduroy, the little bear thought that the escalator was a mountain. So after pretending to do some mountain-climbing, Rocket shifted gears and announced that the pile was an escalator instead.

He climbed up and down the pile, again and again. He placed a yellow diaper cover at the end of the pile and called it the caution line on the step that marks the end of the escalator. It sounds so simple, but have you ever seen a toddler on a massive pile of clean clothes? Endless fun! Remarkably, it also kept him busy for most of my clothes-folding session, until the pile was too small to climb.

And I have to admit, it put a cheery smile on my face in the middle of what would have otherwise been just another mundane chore.

 

8) Buttons & Bears Color Sorting Tray

 

Corduroy Button Color Sorting Tray

The tray: an ice cube tray, each slot containing a different colored button and a cup full of counting bears. The object here was to match the bears to the buttons by color.

Corduroy Button Color Sorting Tray

Red bears matched. Deciding which color to do next.

Corduroy Buttons And Bears Matching

At his request, I brought out the party platter tray for him to sort all the objects (bears and buttons) by color. This turned into small world play and some of the bears decided to visit the objects that were not their own color. Building that imagination of his is way more important than sticking to the “rules”! In planning skill-building activities, always consider what you’re really trying to teach. If a tray designed to hone matching/sorting skills turns into open play that hones character traits like creativity and confidence (as a result of having a voice in decision-making), then the outcome is even better than what was originally planned. This is why in these early developmental years, the best thing we can do as “teachers” is to follow the child’s lead. They teach themselves. We are just the learner’s assistants. By accepting this as our role, we do our children a great service!

Corduroy Buttons And Bears Matching

The Laugh & Learn Piggy bank joined the fun too. Looking at the first photo of how this tray was set up with the ice cube tray, you can see how our activities warp depending on Rocket’s interests. It is my strong belief that toddlers should not be restricted by too much structure in their play, unless they welcome it.

 

9) Search For The Lost Button

 

After Lisa’s mom pointed out that Corduroy was missing a button, he went on a mission to find his lost button.

So we did the same!

I hid buttons all over the schoolroom and Rocket had a blast collecting them. After he found the last one, we counted them together.

Here were some of the spots where I hid them:

Corduroy Button Hide And Seek

Corduroy Button Hide And Seek(26)

Corduroy Button Hide And Seek

Corduroy Button Hide And Seek

 

10) Happy Hotsauce’s Hat Hide & Seek

 

Corduroy

Happy Hotsauce is Rocket’s teddy bear. My husband and I had nothing to do with the hilarious naming of that bear, by the way! Happy Hotsauce has a hat that comes off, so I hid the hat around the schoolroom a few times for Rocket to find. Like Corduroy, Happy Hotsauce is a teddy bear who was missing something he wears. I gave my son verbal clues to determine the bear’s location, as he loves games with clues (and so do I because they’re great for language development/comprehension).

 

11) Reading With A Focus

 

We had a lot to talk about during our readings of Corduroy, including:

  • Appreciating our friends. Corduroy was so grateful to have Lisa as a friend. How grateful we are for ours too!
  • Making mistakes. When people aren’t familiar with things, they often make mistakes. Corduroy thought the escalator was a mountain. He thought the top floor of the department store was a palace. We all make mistakes and that is perfectly okay.
  • Counting. On the page where Corduroy reached the top floor, we counted beds, lamps, couches, and tables.
  • Saving money. Lisa used her saved money to buy Corduroy. Early lesson in economics!
  • Manners. Lisa very politely followed her mother when she said no to buying Corduroy. She also said, “No, thank you,” to the sales clerk when she was asked if she needed Corduroy in a bag.
  • Emotions. We talked about the different ways Corduroy felt throughout the story- from the beginning when Lisa’s mother said he was missing a button and didn’t look new to the end when he first arrived to his new home with Lisa.

 

12) Related Reading

 

Corduroy Books

  • Gregory’s Shadow by Don Freeman – Written by the same author who wrote Corduroy.
  • Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson – Another story with a bear as the main character.
  • Corduroy’s Thanksgiving by Lisa McCue – A board book featuring Corduroy.
  • Humphrey’s Bear by Jan Wahl – Another tale of a toy bear and his friend.

 

13) Corduroy Actions

 

Another fun game we played involved reading through the book and acting out everything that Corduroy did.

Corduroy

Here, Rocket is pretending to be Corduroy and claims to have found his lost button. It’s actually a guitar pick! He made a mistake just like Corduroy had with the button on the mattress.

 

14) Broken Toys & Book Repair

 

Corduroy Fixing Tray

The tray: various broken toys I’ve been meaning to fix. Rocket loves to learn how to fix things (and take things apart). Since Lisa sewed Corduroy’s button back on at the end of the story, I decided we should repair our broken toys too! The lack of eyes on these finger puppets DID teach Rocket what it means to be blind, but it was time to repair them. “I can see!” He said when they had brand new googly eyes. We also fixed the actual book- our copy of Corduroy was so old, it wasn’t even bound to the cover anymore.

 

15) Corduroy Craft

 

Corduroy Craft

The invitation: a teddy bear picture, a cut-out of green overalls, a pom-pom to represent the attached button, and a glue stick.

Corduroy

Rocket asked me to cut out shapes so that he could paste them onto Corduroy. And that is why I didn’t take any pictures of the process- I was cutting out shapes the whole time!

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