Buttons & Noodles (A Gentleness Lesson & Fine Motor Activity)

Gentleness is a very abstract word for many children and especially toddlers! To teach Big Brother gentleness when Little Brother was born, I used to take his hand and gently pat or rub his baby brother. He began to learn over time through hands-on experiences what the word ‘gentle’ meant. Now Little Brother is a whole other story! He is what many might call ‘ALL BOY! He loves to squeeze his food to see what happens, loves to throw anything and everything, loves to jump on people,loves to make faces to make us laugh, etc. In other words, gentleness does not come quite as naturally to him. This has become quite evident lately through his sometimes ‘overbearing’ love for his new little cousin. He just loves to love! :) This week I decided to teach and practice a little gentleness lesson with him and his older brother. The best part is that I combined it with our fine motor skill activity for the week! A two-in-one activity; doesn’t get much better than that! 


  • buttons (with holes in the middle; craft buttons work great)
  • uncooked noodles (thin enough to fit through the button holes)
  • apple or orange (a piece of fruit) -optional


1. Explain by using the word ‘gentle/gentleness’ repetitively as you encourage your child to place buttons on a piece of uncooked noodle. (The noodles will break easily, so have several on hand.) Show your child that you need to hold it ‘gently’ so that it doesn’t break as you add the buttons. It is helpful to ‘gently’ stick one end of the noodle into a piece of fruit; the fruit allows toddlers to hold onto the activity and keep the buttons from falling off the opposite end.

(Read an example of how to teach the word ‘Patience’ to toddlers here!) 


(Little Brother with his Little Little Cousin.)

2. Challenge older toddlers/preschoolers to ‘race’ you or one another to see who can add the most buttons in one minute.

3. For children with stronger fine motor skills, have them hold one end of the noodle while placing the buttons on the other end. This is challenging because they must learn to balance the noodle with one hand; this is especially difficult as more buttons are added.

*Note: I love this activity for many reasons: it is adds a concrete example of a word that is often hard for young children to understand, it refines fine motor skills through both holding the tiny noodle and focusing their hand enough to fit the noodle through the button holes, it uses inexpensive/everyday household items, it’s easy to add adapt to fit the needs of your child, and it’s a great and easy way to teach gentleness to a ‘youngest’ child! 

CAUTION: Be watchful when using small buttons with toddlers, as they can be a choking hazard. 

A special thanks to CraftProjectIdeas.com for these great Craft Buttons we received in their “Rainy Day Kit”!


  1. This is a really great idea! Gentleness is a great quality to teach young ones!

  2. This is a great idea. I think my little bird is JUST to an age now where she might get what we’re trying to do and follow along. thanks for this idea, Im pinning it! :)

  3. Tiffany says:

    Thank you! I have been trying to teach my daughter to be more gentle towards her older sister. I can’t wait to try this activity with her. I’m so happy to have found this through Tip Junkie.

  4. Love this one! What a simple and clever idea!

  5. Doing this with my kids today. I’ll be linking back to your tomorrow. Great idea.


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