Button Snake – a Homemade Toy to Develop Fine Motor Skills

Make a simple button snake to help your child strengthen his buttoning and fine motor skills.

Learning to pass a button through a button hole is no easy task for a toddler!  That’s where a button snake can help!  A simple homemade button snake will help your child learn to “do” buttons, and it’s a really fun fine motor activity for toddlers and preschoolers.  Of all the homemade toys I’ve made for the hooligans, our button snake is one of my favourites!  Let me show you how to make one for your toddler!

Button snake - a toddler toy and fine motor activity by Happy Hooligans

  For your convenience, Amazon Affiliate links have been added to this post.

Supplies needed to make a button snake:

felt, ribbon and button for button snake

How to make a button snake:

Cut a your felt into 2.5 inch squares.  Ensure that your squares are a bit bigger than your button.

For toddlers, I like to use a button that is about the size of a quarter.  For older children you could use a smaller button.

With your scissors, make a slit in the center of the felt square.  This can be done easily by folding your square in half and making a small notch.  Ensure your button will fit through this hole.

With a needle and thread, sew your button onto one end of your ribbon.

Slip one square of felt onto the button snake, and slid it all the way to the end of the ribbon.  Knot it in place so it acts as a stopper.

Just look at the concentration!

Child developing his fine motor skills by threading felt squares onto button snake.

Happy buttoning!

button snake with felt squares on the ribbon

Looking for more inexpensive fine motor activities?  Try our:

Cardboard Drop Box

Paint Chip Swatch Drop

10 Fine Motor Activities for Babies and Toddlers

Cheerio Bird Feeders

Mitten Match Up

5 Scissor Exercises for children

Get the 3-5 Playful Preschool e-Book!

25+preschool activities, 10 printables, 50 links to activities not featured in the book all for $6.99 until May 25, 2014. Price increases to $8.99 after the 25th. Download your copy today:

3-5 Playful Preschool 3-book



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    • happyhooligans says

      Thank you Tereza! What a lovely comment to wake up to! I find anything bright and colourful so refreshing these days after the loooong, grey winter we’ve had!

  1. says

    Wow, that’s a great price for a DSLR! The cheapest I’ve seen here was more than $500. I may just have to add another camera to my collection.

    The buttons snake is a really cute idea. I haven’t packed all my felt and sewing supplies yet – I may just have to make one of these for the travel time coming soon.

    • happyhooligans says

      Hey, Erin, That price would be for a used one, I believe. I bought mine on sale through Amazon for 400-something though, which was really good. It was totally worth every penny. It seriously is my pride ‘n joy. lol

  2. says

    I will definitely be making a button snake for my 2.5 year old. He loves that kind of thing. Pinned it.

    I really need to buy a new camera. That ones looks great.

  3. LeAnn B says

    I made 4 of them for my preschool class. They love them! :)

    we have used them not only to strengthen their fine motor skills, but also for color identification, sorting and patterning

  4. says

    What a fun quiet activity! I can’t wait to make one to carry in our “going out ” bag. My daughter is legally blind and has Down syndrome so I will make it using a large button and contrasting felt. ( I might even use a permanent marker to draw a line before I cut to out line the button opening )

  5. says

    This is an interesting take on tactile learning. This is a fun and cute resource. Thank you for sharing it. Thank you for linking up this week to the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop :-)

  6. Alma says

    I love it!! We are going to Disneyland in two weeks and I was looking for waiting activities for my 2 year old. I can fit this in a small ziplock and stash it in my backpack.

  7. Gaye Dorkin says

    I loved this so much and made a few button snakes for my daughter who is a pre-school teacher. I put a button at each end of the ribbon instead of tying a knot in the piece of felt. One snake has huge buttons and the other has much smaller buttons – one end has a square button and the other a round one- just to see if the shape will make a difference to how the children grip the button. Cant wait for her to use them in class this week. Would love to send a picture so you can see your ‘inspiration in the flesh(felt!).

    • happyhooligans says

      Great thinking using buttons of different shapes and sizes, Gaye! And I don’t know why I didn’t think to put a button on each end! Brilliant! I’d love to see pictures! Can you upload them to my facebook page?

  8. Sue says

    I just made this for the children’s museum that I volunteer for. I can’t wait to see the kids try it! What a fantastic idea.

  9. Angela G. says

    I am a Therapy Director and was looking for a easy activity that could be used during occupational therapy sessions. Because April is OT Appreciation Month, I made 11 button snakes to give to my OT staff! I can’t wait to pass them out, I know they will be just as excited about them as I was! Thanks for the great idea :)

  10. Nancy Garbish says

    I’ve made fine motor skill boards with buttons on it but the snake is an awesome idea. Not only will they get to practice buttoning, it can also turn into a nice toy for them to take home.

  11. Sharon says

    This is a great idea! Can’t wait to add it to the Early Childhood rooms at church and for my grandson. Wondering if you can wash these and if anyone has tried it with fleece material?

    • happyhooligans says

      I imagine they’d wash well, Sharon, and fleece would likely work too because it wouldn’t fray, but the squares would be floppier/not as stiff as felt.

  12. Cathy Stine says

    I would love some help thinking of ideas to put on a figit/fiddle blanket for both those with Alzheimer’s or for my grandson who has Autism. The blankets and any attachments need to be machine washable. I would like to make several so low cost or handmade additions would be best. Sure having a hard time thinking of ideas and not much on the Internet.
    Thanks much!

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi Cathy! You should drop Dayna from Lemon Lime Adventures a line. She has a son with sensory processing disorder, and she blogs all about tools and materials for people with sensory needs. I’ll bet she’d have some ideas. Here’s her blog, and she has a facebook page too. You could always msg her through her facebook page: http://lemonlimeadventures.com

  13. Vivienne says

    Thank you for this. I made one for my almost-2 year old, and she loved it. Since playing with it, she has been finding buttons everywhere (on her pjs, her dad’s shirt, etc).

  14. Monique says

    I love this idea! I am an Early Childhood Education student and I have to bring different resources to my field placements. I am going to definitely give this a try. I love the suggestion of using this to match up colours or shapes – i.e. have the children put all of the circles on one snake and the squares on another or put all of the blue pieces on one snake.

    Thanks for the idea!

    • happyhooligans says

      I think it would work, Aimee. You might have to re-glue from time to time though. It’s super-easy to sew it by hand though. Just thread a needle, knot your thread at the end, and go in and out of the button holes, securing the button to the ribbon. There’s really no right or wrong way to do it because it’s just a toy. If you were putting the button on a shirt, you’d want to look nice and neat, but no worries with this. :)

  15. Cecilka says

    Thanks for the lovely tutorial. I just made 2 snakes tonight for my 2 years old twins. I’ll give them the snakes tomorrow, I hope they’ll like it.

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