Friday, February 13, 2009

Felt Snakes for Boys

I originally saw the idea for making felt snakes over at the blog Montessori Mama, but was only reminded of it recently when it was featured again on The Moveable Alphabet.  It was perfect timing because I have felt that Kal-El just really isn't ready to try the buttoning frame yet based on what I've observed when watching him work with the snap frame and the occasional button on a  Learn-to-Dress Doll doll.  

For this project I used some "vintage" buttons, some sheets of felt, and some ribbon.  I cut lengths of ribbon just long enough to go around my neck in case the boys wanted them to be "necklaces for Mommy."  I sewed a button on to each end of the ribbon so that they could work from either side and that the button on the opposite end could serve as a "stop."  Because this project might look suspiciously like sewing to my husband (who probably wouldn't mind anyway), I tried to make it look as manly as possible.  This is how it turned out:

I was really happy with the ribbon I used.  I thought one looks like a man's dress tie, and the other has the alphabet (which Kal-El loves) in non-girly colors.  I also found a really great package of felt that had a tiger stripe, zebra stripe, and cheetah print with coordinating solids.  Kal-El recognized the patterns right away and was very excited.  I used the most manly buttons I had in my button bag.  Here he is working on putting the button through a hole.

I had so much fun making it I got really carried away, much to my husband's amusement, and cut out 200 pieces of felt before I realized what I was doing.  I separated that into three groups and made six ribbons with buttons instead of two.  I put very large buttons on one set, medium on the next, and small on the last and cut the buttonholes to size accordingly.  This way I can increase the difficulty as I wish.  I really liked the buttons I used on the medium set by the way, I had some that looked like black snake skin.  Very manly.

The project worked like a charm!  He was very interested in working with it even though it was difficult for him.  He never did actually finish a snake...he discovered the joys of unbuttoning well before that happened.  I think this was just the intermediate step he needed.  


  1. Those snakes are really cool - not sure how I missed them! I've noticed that my dressing frames are NEVER used, but I bet these button snakes would be a big hit.

  2. Great idea! Cute photos of your son working on these.
    We will have to get making boys will love these.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you so much for this. I made one tonight and my three kids (5, 4, and 2) are FIGHTING over it. I mean, hitting each other in the head kind of fighting!

    The most amazing part is that my 5-year-old, who has autism, has already gone through almost 100 of the squares. He has never been able to button anything before, and it took me awhile to show him how to do the snake version. Once he figured out how to do it himself, he was HOOKED! And he was SO proud of himself when he finished all the squares...he has come back to me 4 times asking me to make more of them. And he runs up and down the hallway with his stack of completed squares clutched to his chest when he is done...he is so happy!

    It took him months and months and months to learn how to use a zipper (not even with the starting point, just zipping up and down)...fine motor is very difficult for him. I can't believe he pulled this off in one night. I can't wait to tell his therapy supervisor tomorrow!

    Thanks again for the idea... :)


  4. Tamie,

    I'm sooo glad you found something here that proved useful for your family! Thank you for the nice comment!

  5. I've been wondering what I could do in lieu of the dressing frames for my little guy - I love the felt snakes!!!

  6. I love this idea. I have a six year old and an almost two year old. I know the six year old could definitely handle the buttoning but I forget what age most kids develop the dexterity to button. I think the baby would definitely get frustrated at this age with this on the shelf but I will have to make one later. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I hear ya about going overkill on the felt. I decided to make a snake today and before I knew it I had more felt than I was ever going to need. I'm putting together a busy bag swap with some of my mommy friends to unload some of the extra.

  8. I LOVE your button snakes ... so much more inviting than dressing frames (and the price is much better, too)! I featured your photo and post in my DIY Dressing Frames and Alternatives at

  9. I am so glad I took the time to read this! I have seen the post and picture from your home page, and just went with what I saw a made some, but they were completely out of felt, instead of ribbon for the snake itself! I think the ribbon will go much better, as the felt just pulls funny when being worked with 100%. I also love the buttons on both ends! When I did my original snake, I only used one end and they just pushed the felt pieces off, but I like that they can both button and un-button when there are two buttons! :) Once again, I am so excited by something I found on your blog! I'm going to make some of these for a valentine's day tray!