Button Dance

Here’s a little card game I designed. It’s free for you to download, print and make.

Get the printable file here:

  • Who is it for?
    It’s for you! It’s suitable for children and adults. Small children can play with simplified rules. It’s very easy but fun, it’s strategic if you use all the rules, and a game of luck if you play it simplified.
  • Don’t have a printer?
    You can draw your own cards! Cut them out of cardboard or paper, and draw the right number of button-dots on them. Copy the numbers from the downloadable file. Draw your own creatures, or just play with dots if you want to keep it simple!
    You could also play this game with dominoes, if you have them.
  • Want to make cards but rules seem complicated?
    Just make them and play dominoes with them instead.
  • Made an awesome set and want to share it with others?
    GREAT! Go ahead! But please credit me – I am giving this away for free, and usually selling it would be my livelihood, so it’s nice if you give me the credit. I make interactive picture books and books about games as well, if you enjoy this, check them out. Thank you!
  • Been playing this for days now and taking photos, is there a hashtag?
    Why not! #ButtonDance
  • Totally WANT to throw me a treat in return?
    Yay! Here’s my Ko-Fi.

Here are the Rules!

2 to 3 players (you can try more)

You Will Need

A printed deck of Button Dance cards, and one button (or similar marker) per player. If you’re playing with the Button rule, each player needs a differently coloured button.


Deal out a hand of 4 cards to each player, keep them secret. The player who will start gets one more card, and the rest form a face-down draw pile.

Playing the cards

The aim of the game is to be the first player to empty your hand. The starting player chooses one of their cards and plays it into the middle of the table, either way up. 
Players then take turns to add one card from their hand to the row. You can put it on either end. When you place a card, an animal on that card must have the same number of buttons as one of the animals next to it, like the two mice here:


It doesn’t matter if it’s the top or the bottom half that matches, and you can turn the card around when you play it.
Now compare the OTHER numbers on those two cards: the numbers that DON’T match. If that number on the card you just added is lower, you must draw back up a new card.
There is one exception: If there are already two matching numbers next to each other and you place a third one (or a fourth or fifth or sixth) in a row, this is a Dance. You don’t have to draw a new card in this case, no matter what the other number on your card is.


If you can’t play a card on your turn, you must pass and draw a card instead.
Keep playing until one player has no cards left at the end of their turn: they are the winner! If you run out of cards to draw up, the player with the fewest cards in their hand at that point wins the game. 
If you are teaching the game to young children, practise it with just these rules before adding the next ones about crocodiles and buttons! 

The Crocodile

The crocodile has no buttons at all, so is worth zero when comparing to other animals. But it chases other animals away! 
After you’ve played a crocodile (and after you’ve drawn a new card if you have to), you may knock off as many cards as you like from the opposite end of the row. Put them on a discard pile. 
If the draw pile runs out of cards, shuffle the discard pile to replace it.



Now it’s time to strategically stitch on some extra buttons. It’s easy! 
Every player starts with a button in front of them.
Instead of playing a card on your turn, you can place your own button onto any of the four animals at the ends of the row (if your button is already on an animal, you can move it to a new one). This counts as an extra button on the card, meaning that the animal will now match different animals, both for playing new cards and for Dances: if you add a button to a mouse, it matches cats instead of mice from now on, and so on.

If a card with your button on it gets knocked off by a crocodile, the button returns to you.
If you pass, neither playing a card nor moving your button, you must draw up a new card to your hand.


This little guy worked it out and won a lot. We’ve also been playing it with grown-ups at boardgame night!