Button You Must Wander

Button You Must Wander is a hit with my students. It is probably their most requested game out of everything we play all year. Even my 4th graders regularly ask if we’ll have time at the end of class to play it! I have a big bag of colorful buttons and get ridiculously sad when the button “wanders” away and becomes lost. The kids love hiding the button and guiding their peers as they find it. I love that they love it and the fact that they are practicing crescendos and decrescendos with every round.

Suggested Grade Levels: 1st grade, 2nd grade, 4th grade


***Note: The version I use with my students is a little bit different than the version I see everywhere else. I like to use mi-re-do for the A’ cadence points. The other versions have a melody with more leaps, which you can see below. Choose whichever version will work best for you and your students.

Unfortunately, I could not find much on the history of this song. All sources that I did find suggest that this is a traditional American singing game. I will continue searching for information and update it here when I do find it.

Game: There are so many different ways to play this game! I have included two versions that I have used with my students. Option 1 is by far their favorite.

Option 1: One child (the finder) covers their eyes or goes into another room while the rest of their peers sing the song. Another child will hide a button or another small object somewhere around the room as they are singing. Once they finish, the child hiding the button must return to their seat and the finder who covered their eyes must find the button. Their peers will help by using a “hotter/colder” approach. As the finder gets closer, their voices must become louder. As the finder gets further away, their voices must become quieter. Once the finder finds the button, they are the one who gets to hide it and a new finder is selected.

Option 2: Children pass a button or another small object around a seated circle and sing while one “finder” sits in the middle with their eyes covered. At the end of the song, all children will hide their hands in their lap or behind their backs. With their eyes still closed, the finder will sing “Who has the button?” (s-m-l-s-m) and the child holding the button will respond “I have the button!” (s-m-l-s-m). The finder then may open their eyes and take three guesses at who has the button. The child hiding the button can be the next finder.

Classroom Applications:
–Simple to play on xylophones
–Good song for F# and low D on the recorder
–Good to learn and practice crescendo/decrescendo (See game Option 1)
–Review piano and forte dynamics
–Encourages solo singing and solo response (See game Option 2)
–Great song for mi-re-do (if you use my version)
–Good for singing leaps

Game Option 2
Game version that older students may enjoy


–Bamberger, K. (July 2015). Song title: Button, you must wander. Kristinbamberger.comhttp://kristinbamberger.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Button-You-Must-Wander.pdf

Button you must wander. (n.d.). Kodály Cat. http://kodalycat.weebly.com/uploads/2/9/4/1/2941805/button_you_must_wander.pdf

Button you must wander. (n.d.). Sound Thinking Australia. http://music.soundthinkingaustralia.com/Button%20you%20must%20wander.pdf

–Hurley, C. (2018, December 18). Button you must wander [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t00atOrdCpA

–Thompson, B. (n.d.). Button you must wander. Beth’s Notes. https://www.bethsnotesplus.com/2012/10/button-you-must-wander.html

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