by Cheryl A. Bastian
Includes: Activities, Helpful Links and Discussion Questions

A Missing Button Leads to Friendship
Based on Corduroy by Don Freeman
Child's Book
Realizing a button is missing from his overalls, Corduroy fears no one will want him. He makes a plan. When the store closes and shoppers go home, the stuffed bear climbs off the shelf and sets out to find his missing button. He searches everywhere, braving the dark and riding escalator mountain. Corduroy, a timeless children’s classic penned by Don Freeman (Viking Press, 1968), is an endearing must-read story.

The lovable, fuzzy main character of this picture book is courageous, and author/illustrator Don Freeman invites young listeners to join the beloved bear’s brave search. While on the journey through the closed department store, children learn to be less fearful of the dark, a common childhood concern.

Corduroy is worried when Lisa’s mom questions whether Lisa should purchase the bear if he is missing a button. This sends him on a hunt. As he searches, he knocks over a lamp, beckoning the night guard. As the guard approaches, Corduroy hides between bed covers.

Fear is real, and it does not discriminate according to age. Be honest about your fears and concerns, maybe sharing with your child your fear that you will lock your keys in your car or that you will run out of gas. Explain what you do when you are afraid. What tools do you have to defuse those concerns?

As a family, have members share what makes them fearful. Read Isaiah 41:10. “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you” (NASB). Talk about ways people can overcome their fears, particularly fear of the dark.

We purchased small flashlights—pocket-sized are especially helpful—for some of our children when they feared the dark. Though we memorize Isaiah 41:10, the flashlight provides a tangible means by which our children remember that light overcomes darkness.

Take apart a flashlight to discover how it works. Talk about why it needs batteries to operate. Once the bulb is out of the flashlight, demonstrate how the bulb can be lit using two wires and a battery. Point out where the positive and negative signs are on the battery and that every battery has a bump end and an indented end. To light the bulb, connect one wire to the negative end of the battery. Wrap the other end of the wire around the base of the bulb. To complete the circuit, connect the second wire to the positive end of the battery. Electrical tape may be helpful to hold the wire in place.
Make & Do
Shadows are made by light. Sometimes we see shadows during the day—made by the sun—and sometimes we see shadows at night—made by streetlights or flashlights. Shadows become less scary when they are understood. Turn on a flashlight, and hold it up to a blank wall. What shape appears on the wall? How can you make the circle bigger or smaller? Experiment with hand shadows by placing your hand between the wall and the flashlight. Put up two fingers. Do you see a rabbit? Experiment moving fingers and hands to make animals. Check out a library book about shadows or hand shadows.

Corduroy lost a button. Talk about a time when something was lost and found. How did it feel to find it? Read a Bible story about something that was lost. Play hide and seek with a favorite object or stuffed animal; one person hides the object while the others hide their eyes and then seek.

Buttons make math fun. They can be sorted by color, by shape, and even by the number of holes. We use buttons to make sets, beginning with sets of two and working up to sets of ten. Buttons can be purchased online.

Buttoning a shirt or fastening a pair of pants is an important fine motor skill. It takes muscle strength and practice. First attempts at buttoning are most successful with large coat buttons. Smaller shirt buttons take extra dexterity.

Corduroy got his name from his infamous bright green corduroy overalls. Corduroy is a fabric. Look for an article of clothing made of corduroy. Feel the bumpy texture. Look for other bumpy textures in your home, like treads on shoes and upholstery. Compare bumpy items (rocks and tire threads) to rough (sandpaper) and smooth (aluminum foil or a countertop) objects. If samples of fabric are available, make a texture book or place the samples in a brown bag for a touch-and-describe treasure bag.

Image of Little girl reading book
Explain that adjectives are describing words. Some describing words for texture include bumpy, rough, smooth, silky, pointed, fuzzy, hard, cold, hot, and soft. Take turns making sentences to describe favorite things, perhaps, “My bear feels warm and fuzzy,” or, “I love smooth, chilly ice cubes in my water,” or, “The laundry in the dryer feels cozy.”

Escalators are fun to ride. They go up and come down. They can also be dangerous. Talk about escalator safety: take one step at a time, remain standing, place hands on the handrail, and watch for the end.

While Corduroy sat on the shelf, “the store was always filled with shoppers buying all sorts of things, but no one ever seemed to want a small bear in green overalls.” Discuss what it means to save money for an important purchase. Identify the coins in a piggy bank. Older children can practice counting the coins and adding the amount.

Lisa bought Corduroy and ran home. Using a needle and thread, she sewed a button on Corduroy’s overalls. What adventures are ahead for Lisa and her stuffed friend? Read more in A Pocket for Corduroy, also written by Don Freeman (Puffin Books, 1980).