Tag Archives: diy

How To Make A Button snake. Dressing Practice For Toddlers.

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One of the core principals of the Montessori prepared environment is beauty.  Not in a grandiose manner, but in a natural, tranquil, enticing and ordered way.

Learning materials should be equally beautiful, carefully crafted and presented.

It is for this reason that I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time creating materials relative to the amount of time he will probably spend on them.  Ok, I probably make things that are a little advanced, but I figure over time, these things will live a long, well loved life, that will make the hours of crafting worth while.

This button snake is a perfect example…it could be a much simpler task than I created for myself, but I wanted a snake that would look good and stand the test of time, in beautiful rich and tactile colours.

The idea of the button snake is to help with practical dressing skills…self-dressing coordination, concentration and independence from about 2 years of age.

The original inspiration was a much simpler version, made in felt.  The squares of felt simply need cutting to size, with a slit in the centre…have a look at Counting Coconuts version here.

I had this old fabric sample book which was going spare, the rich velvety colours were too tempting and the rectangular samples folded into perfect squares…no cutting needed!!.

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Here’s how to make one…

Start with your fabrics of choice, my squares were just over 10cm x 10cm.  You will need 20 pieces of fabric to make ten squares, don’t forget to allow for the seams, so your squares should be a couple of cm larger than you want them to end up.

With the patterned sides together, stitch all the way around, leaving a gap of approx 5cm.

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Turn the squares the right way, through the opening.

Use a chopstick to get into the corners and achieve nice crisp squares.

Press squares flat.

Close the seams with a blind (ladder) hand stitch.

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Set up your sewing machine for buttonholes.  Stitch a central button hole onto each square according to manufacturers instructions.  (Definitely practise this on a scrap of material first, it took several attempts to get this technique perfect and make sure your button fits through the hole!)

Use a craft knife or stitch-ripper to open up the buttonhole.

Tips:  I chose a contrasting thread for the buttonhole, to highlight the opening.  I also made the largest size hole available on the sewing machine, I plan to start with a large button, and sew up the hole for use with a smaller button as he masters this one!

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Finally, take a length of ribbon and securely attach two buttons, one at each end.  I tried a couple of techniques as you can see from the buttons in the picture, just use plenty of stitches as this is going to get pulled about…a lot!

This one could be quite frustrating for little fingers, so take plenty of time demonstrating how to thread and un-thread the buttons at the beginning.

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I’m linking up at Montessori Monday, check it out for lots of other great inspirations.

Montessori Monday

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Extra Sensory Scented Play Dough.

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Home made play dough is such a simple pleasure.  Grown ups and kids alike can’t help but give it a squidge.  It is quick and easy to make, and you can vary it in endless ways.

Today, I thought I would treat the little guy to a new batch of the squishy sensory stuff as we were a little housebound.

To make things a bit more interesting, and to stimulate the senses, this batch was a kind of aromatherapy dough.  After learning about importance of sensorial activities  in a Montessori setting, this seemed like an ideal variation on the usual play dough theme.

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I used the recipe below to make up a nice big batch of dough which I split in half.  I coloured one a light green and added a few drops of peppermint oil.  To the other half, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a little red colouring.  Mint creams and cookie dough, it would be a miracle if he didn’t devour the lot!!

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Not having had much luck with cookie cutters and rolling pins in the past, I decided to bring some contrasting textures and colours into the mix.  Some natural, some man made, the variety kept him interested for so much longer than I had anticipated.

Play dough is a great tool for fine motor development.  On its own, each squash, squeeze, poke and prod is developing a skill.  The extra elements help to multiply the possibilities of exploration and investigation.  The change in pressure required to poke in a spaghetti stick is different to the pressure required to press in a flat star shape. A bowl of rice behaves differently in little hands to a ball of dough.  Try out the recipe below, and add anything you can find to change up the experience.

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2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons oil
1.5 cups boiling water

Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil together in a bowl.

Add the boiling water and combine with a spoon until a dough forms, add more water slowly if needed to bring all the ingredients together.

Turn the dough out onto a surface and once cool enough to handle, begin to knead for a few minutes to create a smooth bouncy dough.

Divide the dough and colour or scent  using some of the following ideas…

Cinnamon
Ginger
Cocoa
Essential oils, peppermint, orange, lavender…
Rosemary
Ground cloves/nutmeg/mixed spice
Turmeric
Food colouring
Food flavouring

Then raid the cupboards for some textures…

Dried pasta
Dried beans
Dried rice
Straws
Pebbles
Leaves
Paper clips
Glitter
Beads
Feathers
Cookie cutters

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