Because tying sneakers can be tricky and daunting, practicing before the real deal can strengthen fine motor skills. In addition, kids are more likely to learn when they feel supported and confident. A few years ago, we made this fun shoe lacing printable for my daughter who was just learning how to tie knots! Our printable shoe tying activity helped her master this life skill. Soon, little brother will be learning 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 these shoe lacing printables for print 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 events, 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 these printables bring a little culture 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?
The process is challenging for many kids because:
- The many steps require fine motor skills, balance, and eye-hand coordination
- Young children are learning to distinguish left from right
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 learns to tie shoes.
Benefits of practicing with shoe lacing printable cards
When my daughter was younger, she used these shoe lacing printables over and over again! Through this hands-on activity, she mastered 打结 / 打結 (dǎ jié / tie a knot) and 绑鞋带 / 綁鞋帶 (bǎng xié dài / tying shoe laces).
Here are other benefits of learning how to tie shoes with this printable:
- You can use our shoe lacing printables before buying 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 鞋 (xié / shoe) as well as 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 set up shoe lacing activity
Download printable shoe-lacing practice template in 3 languages!
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Other recommended 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-lacing printable 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/or 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 shoe laces
- 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!
If your child is struggling with shoe-lacing practice, it’s okay to take a break. Validate his or her feelings with compassion and understand, 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! You can see videos of other fine motor activities that my kids have done on my Instagram story highlights.
If your child often has a difficult time with coordinating his or her fingers, please contact his or her doctor for further evaluation and advice.
Have you tried this printable shoe lacing practice 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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