Again, I was inspired by Montessori Mama's blog. She posted a picture of ribbon and felt snakes that she did with some of the children in her family and I immediately wanted the work in my classroom. The simple project has children thread small squares of assorted colored felt onto a 1/4 yard long piece of 1/2 inch wide ribbon made of a sturdy material. In the middle of each of the small squares, which I cut to the size of a quarter (the coin) squared, I made a small, buttonhole by simply folding the squares and making a cut in the middle of the felt - no sewing required. At both ends of the ribbon, I sewed a single button. A larger one was sewn on one end to help keep the pieces of felt from slipping off of the bottom of the ribbon. The buttons were initially sewn on by myself for all of the children, but later I will have the older children include sewing on the buttons as part of the steps involved in this work. The items on the tray are as follows:
1. a small basket filled with multicolored squares of felt that have a small button hole-like slit cut in the middle.
2. a small basket which has several pieces of ribbon that have buttons sewn on each end.
3. A small pair of scissors (*these are used for the children to make the button holes slightly larger if I made a few too small)
4. A non-food-work place mat/ oil cloth
I re-presented the button frame to the entire class and then, when I finished that work and put it away, presented the ribbon and felt snakes/ or simply the "threading work" to demonstrate that they both involved buttons and buttonholes. Using the name snake was a good choice for me as the day before I had presented the addition snake game to some of the younger five year olds. To me it signaled a continuity of construction throughout the classroom.
*Important note in regards to presenting the assemblage of the ribbon and felt snakes: make sure to highlight that the felt is not to be pushed down on the ribbon but rather a small space should separate each piece so that one child does not use all of the squares of felt in the basket on the tray.
In the second, smaller basket with the lid on are the ribbons with buttons sewn on them at each end.
This is the beginning of a ribbon and felt snake. I went back to the table with this child and showed her again how to space out the pieces of felt. The child had one last question for me, "Do we get to take them home, Miss Dyer?" "Yes," I replied to the now wide smiling four year old.