quick trick: how to teach kids to tie their shoes
This Quick Trick is admittedly a work in progress. While Owen hasn’t quite mastered tying his shoes yet, he’s getting there. Slowly.
He expressed interest last summer to learn how to tie his shoes, but each time we sat down to try it, he balked. Now, as he’s only a few months away from making the big leap into kindergarten, he’s ready to learn how to tie those kicks, solo.
For many preschoolers and early elementary students, learning how to tie their shoes takes a simultaneous jiving of both fine motor skill readiness and cognitive readiness. Learning how to tie shoes takes a huge heap of concentration, and kiddos must be at a developmental stage where they are able to try, fail, try again, fail again, and re-try until it finally clicks. That’s the hard part.
Oh, and they have to want to learn how to do it. If they don’t want to do it, forgettabout it.
That’s where were were last summer with Owen. But now, he wants to learn, and seriously, just like potty training, I feel like I’ve got to jump on this train while it’s here. Or it might not arrive again until he’s in like second–or fifth–grade.
So when I was invited to participate in a Cardboard Box Creative Challenge this week, I knew exactly what we needed to do. I grabbed a small cardboard box, some ribbon, and a huge chunk of patience, and I set out to create a little something that I thought would help the O-Man learn to tie his shoes: A Shoelace Box.
Or, as Owen named it, Ribbon Rows.
Owen cuts ribbon for his Shoelace Box
- How To Teach Kids to Tie Their Shoes — Shoelace Box: I grabbed a small cardboard box, a shoe box, and I gathered tons of ribbon and string from our ribbon bag.
I made several holes on the box: three sets of two holes, one inch apart on the top and two sets of holes on each side.
Owen threads the ribbon through the holes.
My thinking was that some would be easier than others, and whatever worked we’d go with.
I was also thinking that once he got the tying thing down pat, he could use the other lengths and textures to hone his new skeeeels.
We used the language that I had heard but was not taught–that each loop was a ‘bunny ear’, but that wasn’t sticking, so I moved to something that I knew would: swords. I used the image of a sword fight, since I thought it would be more enticing than bunny ears. I was right.
Make one sword, then make the other. Then cross them. Bam! This guy ducks under, through, and PULL!
Owen tries the loop–or sword–as we called it.
But it was frustrating, slippery, and challenging for him–even though his brain and hands seemed ready.
So we took some breaks, focused on his successes, which was the first part. He could totally complete the first step in shoe-tying; it was just the blasted bunny ear/ sword part that got him all jumbled up.
We took breaks, and tried and re-tried. Rewarded and took deep breaths.
And then we had a break-through. . .
BIG CHANGES! BIG CHANGES: two-toned ribbon did the trick!
After a few days with Owen practicing on his Shoelace Box, I noticed he was still having a hard time with the second part of tying–the looping under and pulling through.
So I un-taped his box and took out the red ribbon on the bottom and the white ribbon in the middle; I tied them together so that one side was red and the other side was white, and the two-toned ribbon made a world of difference!
We figured out something that will work–and he wants to try to tie a few times each day. Some days we forget, and some days he’s not feeling it, but most days, he’s ready to practice tying his shoes.
Woot! Now I have TWO kids who can tie their shoes in ONE house! I can hardly contain my excitement!
Many thanks to Rachelle, of TinkerLab, for inviting me to participate in this Creative Challenge! The other participants who stepped up to the plate to figure out a fun way of using a cardboard box are:
- Kate, of An Amazing Child
- Jean, of The Artful Parent
- Regina, of Chalk in my Pocket
- Amy, of Child Central Station
- Christie, of Childhood 101
- Melissa, of The Chocolate Muffin Tree
- Jamie, of Hands on: as we grow
- Anna, of The Imagination Tree
- Amy, of Kids in the Studio
- Jenny, of Let the Children Play
- Rachele, of Messy Kids
- Michelle, of Michelle’s Charm World
- Jill, of A mom with a lesson plan
- Rashmie, of Mommy Labs
- Jen, of Paint Cut Paste
- MaryLea, of Pink and Green Mama
- Roopa, of Putti Prapancha
- Rachel, of Quirky Momma
- Deborah, of Teach Preschool
- Tom, of Teacher Tom
- Sherry and Donna, of Irresistible Ideas for Play-Based Learning
- Rachelle, of TinkerLab