Learning how to tie shoelaces can be tricky and daunting for children. By practicing before the real deal, kids can strengthen their fine motor skills and become very prepared for their first pair of real laces. Plus, kids are more likely to learn when they feel supported and confident.
A few years ago, we made this fun shoe template printable for my daughter, who was just learning how to tie knots! Our printable shoe tying board helped her master this life skill. Soon, little brother will learn how to tie his shoes with this printable, too.
Since my children are learning 3 languages (Chinese, Korean, and English), we wanted to include the words “shoe,” “left,” and “right” on this shoe template printable for language exposure.
Also, young kids easily mix up their left and right sides. For children who are starting to read, labels can remind kids about left versus right.
We want our children’s languages to be part of regular life, even something as simple as learning how to tie shoes. Especially since we live in a community that doesn’t share our family’s languages, seeing words in the minority language can remind everyone to speak it.
Because resources in our family’s minority languages are difficult to find, I hope this shoe-tying board brings a little language and fun into your home!
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When should kids switch from Velcro to lace-up shoes?
During the toddler and kindergarten years, children commonly wear Velcro sneakers. Velcro footwear is easier for little hands to take on and off and cultivates independence. Furthermore, since untied shoelaces can be a tripping hazard, Velcro is safer for little kids.
As kids grow and participate in more sports and outdoor play, they should switch from shoes with laces which have more adjustment possibilities compared to Velcro.
With laces, the shoe can better fit the foot shape without excessive constriction.
When are kids ready to learn how to tie their shoes?
Like all milestones, kids are ready for shoe-tying at different ages, often ranging from 5-8 years.
Give kids opportunities to use their hands, such as cutting practice, using play dough, drawing, and playing with open-ended toys. Practical life skills, such as cooking, getting dressed, and household chores should be part of the daily routine.
These are all natural opportunities for improving the coordination that is necessary for tying shoes!
Why is shoe tying so hard for many kids?
Learning how to tie shoelaces is almost a rite of passage for most kids. If you notice your child exploring twisting and trying to make knots with yarn or string, it may be time to encourage them to start tying their own shoes. But oftentimes, many kids find the process challenging. Why is it?
- The many steps require fine motor skills, balance, and eye-hand coordination.
- Young children are learning to distinguish left from right.
- They don’t have motivation yet.
Since many modern kids watch YouTube videos and have a lot of screen-time with iPads, they may not be using their hands as much. This is a problem not only for shoe lacing skills but also for learning how to write.
Be patient with your child as he or she becomes more coordinated and learns to tie shoes.
Benefits of practicing with shoe template printables
When my daughter was younger, she used these shoe template printables over and over again! Through this hands-on lacing activity, she mastered how to tie a knot (打结 / 打結 / dǎ jié) and tie shoelaces (绑鞋带 / 綁鞋帶 (bǎng xié dài).
Here are other benefits of learning how to tie shoes with this printable:
- You can use our shoe lacing printables before investing in new sneakers.
- Practice any time of the year, even during the winter (eg, boot season) or summer (eg, sandal season).
- The template can be used as a coloring sheet.
- Each Chinese shoe is labeled with 鞋 (xié / shoe) and 左, 右 (zuǒ, yòu / left, right). Korean and English shoes are labeled as well. Therefore, the shoe-lacing printables are “sight word” flashcards in disguise (wink, wink).
Video demonstration of how to tie shoelaces and shoe lacing activity
I tried to make learning how to tie shoelaces as easy as possible for my kids and now for yours too! Watch how easy it is to assemble this activity using my printable down below.
Download printable shoe-lacing practice template in 3 languages!
To get started tying shoes, start with downloading the printable. Included in the printable is a black and white labeled template. You can either print it on white paper to color and decorate yourself or on colorful paper to brighten up the lacing activity.
You’ll also find step-by-step instructions so that you can easily print and get started right away. This is also convenient if you want to save the printable for later and forget to reference this page!
The printable is also handy for making multiple copies for classroom or daycare use. You can save time by printing enough for all the kids and then letting them cut and assemble the shoe-tying board together.
I try to make every activity an opportunity to teach language, so I’ve made 3 versions of the printable: English, Chinese, and Korean. When printing, simply choose which one you want to download!
Other supplies for shoe-lace tying practice
- 3/16″ Shoelaces (or yarn, string, ribbon)
- 1/4″ Hole punch
- Colored paper (or markers for coloring)
- Painter’s tape
- Optional: Laminator and laminating pouches for durability
How to set up shoe tying board for tying practice
- Print on colored paper
- Cut out shoes
- Use 1/4” hole punch to create holes
- Tip: Use painter’s tape to affix shoe to any surface. This helps keep the shoe in place so that it’s easier to work on the shoelaces.
- Practice knotting and lacing!
- Print on white paper
- Color shoes with favorite art supplies: crayons, pencils, or markers
- Cut out shoes
- Glue to thin cardboard
- Use 1/4” hole punch to create holes
Tips for teaching kids how to tie shoelaces
- Present the whole process as the introduction.
- Then focus on one step at a time.
- Keep practicing with the shoe lacing printables.
- Try it with real lace-up sneakers!
Some children have difficulty maintaining balance and keeping their core upright while trying to tie their shoes. Have your child sit with their back against the wall while they tie their shoes to give them extra support. Tuck their legs in so they can easily reach both feet and encourage them to rest their head on one knee.
If your child is struggling with shoe-lacing practice, it’s okay to take a break. Validate his or her feelings with compassion and understanding, such as saying:
- I know this is hard. 我知道这很难。(Wǒ zhīdào zhè hěn nán.)
- We can try again another time. 我们可以改天再试一次。 (Wǒmen kěyǐ gǎitiān zài shì yīcì.)
In the meantime, keep giving your child lots of opportunities to use their hand muscles! Try working on their fine motor skills with this clothespin color matching activity.
If your child often has a difficult time coordinating his or her fingers, please contact his or her doctor for further evaluation and advice.
Get the shoe lacing template here
Have you tried this printable shoe lacing activity?
If you try this activity, please let us know in the comments below! What age(s) are your kid(s), and how did it go? We’d love to hear about your learning experience!
More activities that teach left versus right
- Jumping on Footprints to Learn Left Versus Right!
- Left Versus Right Hand: How to Teach Your Child Left and Right with Stickers!
Learning activities for every topic!
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