Here’s a fun snake craft that kids of all ages will enjoy! Make snakes from salt dough, and then paint them. Kids can pattern them after real snakes, or they can just paint them fun colors!

I don’t know about you, but we are ALL ready for the end of the school year around here!  We’re finished with a couple subjects, but we’ve still got more math and grammar to do.

Anyway, to keep interest going for the younger ones, I did a couple of snake books last week, and then we made salt dough snakes.  All of the boys really like snakes, and I really don’t.  But at least these were harmless!

To make the salt dough, we mixed:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 T oil

Mix all the ingredients and knead the dough until it’s smooth. Then you’re ready to make some snakes!

Salt Dough Snakes The beauty of this activity (provided that your kids like snakes) is that even a preschooler can roll out a snake, and older kids can work on making realistic models of different species.

We baked our snakes for 3 hours at 200 degrees F.  Then I let them sit out overnight before we painted them.

Once our snakes were ready to paint, we got out some of our animal books to decide what colors and patterns to use.

Then we painted the snakes with acrylic paint.

My 13 year old wanted to make a realistic rattle snake, and I think it turned out well!

I sprayed the snakes with a coat of polyurethane to keep the paint from chipping.

Another thing to keep in mind when using acrylic paint is that the paint easily comes off the salt dough if kids handle the snakes before they are fully dry. Try to paint the snakes without holding them, or hold the part you haven’t painted yet. If you want to add a second coat of paint, let the snakes dry for an hour or so in between coats.

Aren’t the snakes fun? I honestly can’t believe I’m saying that about snakes! I painted the coral snake, and the kids did the others. I really like how the kids posed their snakes. Looking at pictures while making them really helps.

This post was originally published in May 2013 and updated May 2020.

Need more animal craft ideas?

Make some Pipe Cleaner Monkeys – these are really cute!

These Egg Carton Turtles are another favorite craft.

And if you like snakes, we also recommend this Paracord Snake Craft!


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  1. JDaniel4's Mom May 6, 2013

    I think my son would love these.

  2. katepickle May 6, 2013

    These are cool!
    My snake loving girl would love these... though I wouldn't as I really don't like snakes! (We have a lot of snakes where we live in Australia and all of them are poisonous - hence my fear!)

  3. Valerie May 7, 2013

    Looking forward to trying this with my kids.

  4. Anna - The Measured Mom May 7, 2013

    LOVE these! Pinning for the letter S.

  5. Esther May 7, 2013

    There are so creative! looks like real ones, it freaks me out!

  6. Kirstylee May 7, 2013

    These are so awesome! My boys would absolutely love making these. I never would have thought to spray them with shellac, but it makes such a huge difference. These snacks look professional. :)

  7. Kirstylee May 7, 2013

    And by snacks, I mean snakes. oops ;)

  8. maggy, red ted art May 14, 2013

    Awe they look great fun!

    Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  9. Jessica Jul 29, 2013

    Can you speed up the cooking time at all? I was thinking of doing this for a work project and we only have 45 min for the program.

    1. Sarah Jul 29, 2013

      Hmm, I'm not sure! I'm afraid that the dough would scorch if you turn up the heat.

  10. Michelle Sexton Jul 30, 2013

    This is awesome. We are definitely going to give this a try...when we can keep the oven on for 3 hours without heating up the house during the summer. :)

  11. Adrienne Aug 13, 2013

    Hi there,

    Just rolled out the snakes with my boys. I had such trouble with the dough! I kept having to add more oil because they kept breaking. Was the dough supposed to be cooked on the stove top before we rolled the out? It seemed likeour table salt grains were causing them to crumble. I live in Kenya and our table salt grains might be bigger than yours. Any ideas? They are bakin right now. I hope they don't break after they are done baking.

    1. Sarah Aug 13, 2013

      Hmmm, I don't know! Our dough felt somewhat salty, more salty than play dough, but it became smoother the longer we played with it. It may be a difference in ingredients! I hope they work out for you!

  12. Carol Nicoll Jan 26, 2014

    I'm a Preschool teacher and tried this recipe last week to make hibernating snakes. Because I needed enough dough for 16 kids, I doubled it - it was the perfect amount - but made up half a batch (the amount in this recipe above) the week before to estimate quantities, drying time, etc. I stored the first batch, wrapped in plastic wrap in a ziplock bag and made the second batch in front of the class so we could compare/contrast flour and salt and talk about measuring, etc. The 2nd fresh batch rolled out much nicer than the "premade" batch so next year I will wait and make it all at once. Funny story - I brought the snakes home to bake and covered them with a towel on the dining room table after they cooled for the night. My new rambunctious cat found them and batted them all over my house. Not one snake broke! Now that's a dough I will use again :-)

  13. Lindsey Jun 6, 2014

    Hello! I love ideas like this for my 3 1/2 yr old. They're fun and cheap! Do you have to use spray paint? Or will another kind work as well?

    1. Sarah Jun 8, 2014

      We used acrylic paint, and then I sprayed it with a coat of shellac to keep the paint from chipping off. Tempera paint would work as well, and would be more washable. You might want to spray it with shellac afterwards if your child is going to want to handle it a lot!

  14. Amii Feb 15, 2015

    These are great! Definitely pinning to do with my 3 year old. We like to make art for the garden... do you think the shellac will allow it to be in the elements without instantly degrading?

    1. Sarah Feb 15, 2015

      Hmm... I think it will break down eventually in the garden. I wonder if you could make some out of plaster of paris or cement? You'd have to have a mold to pour it into and then paint. Not sure where to find a snake mold - ha! The salt dough might last for one season, but I think that even with the shellac it would eventually break down. Cheap materials, though, so it might be worth a try!

  15. Shanna Mar 9, 2015

    Hi. May I ask what kind of oil you used...just vegetable oil?

    1. Sarah Mar 11, 2015

      Yes, just vegetable oil.

  16. The Little Tourist Mar 11, 2015

    AWESOME! That pretty much describes this craft! lol!

  17. Jenny May 20, 2020

    can we use almond flour as a substitute?

    1. Sarah May 20, 2020

      I haven't tried almond flour, but my guess would be that it would not hold together the same way. Definitely test it out first if you're thinking of doing it with a group of kids!

  18. Lisa Williams Sep 8, 2020

    Hello, do you have to stick them in the oven? Can I let them dry overnight?

    1. Sarah Sep 14, 2020

      You can definitely air-dry them. However, it may take longer than just overnight. Drying time depends on how thick/big they are.

  19. Evan Sep 23, 2020

    I did this with the kids I babysit, and they turned out so cute!! The kids loved making the dough and painting them. I definitely recommend. When it says T oil, we put 1 tablespoon on vegetable oil.

  20. Dappled Skies and Diys Nov 3, 2020

    These snakes turned out wonderfully. Used olive oil instead of vegetable oil bc that was what I had. Dough was easy to roll and after baking was very durable! Loved the shellac idea to protect the paint!
    Great craft!! Thanks!!


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