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Introduction to Shoe Tying

lacing tying

What you'll need:

Empty Egg Carton
Two different colored shoe laces
Pencil or Pen

Getting Started:

Learning to lace and tie one's shoes is a major milestone for any preschooler; and typically appropriate around ages 4-5.

Although it quickly becomes second nature, the act of shoe tying demands a large amount of concentration and coordination from young learners. Learning how to place and manipulate their fingers can prove challenging at first, and it is best not to rush the process. Select a time and day when your child is in the right frame of mind and excited to learn—and even then—expect some frustration as they learn and master this complex task.

To get started, clean out your egg carton, turn it upside-down, and poke holes in the center of each egg cup. You can easily create the holes with a pen or pencil.

Next, take your laces and tie them together at one end of the carton. We suggest using two different colored laces so that you can give directions using colors instead of right and left—which may cause confusion during the learning process.

Continue by threading each lace through the first set of holes and pause a minute to ensure they are even. Next guide your child through the process of threading the laces in and out of the holes to lace your practice "shoe"—pausing periodically to be sure your laces are remaining even.

For some children this will be enough challenge for the first day. If you sense your toddler becoming tired or frustrated with the activity, stop and come back to it another day.

Once your child has mastered lacing, begin to work on the act of tying the shoe and making a bow. Again, do your best to remain patient and let them work through the puzzle of manipulating the laces. Offer to demonstrate occasionally and celebrate their successes at each step. Given time and practice they will master this milestone skill.

Below are two examples of how to explain shoe tying to your child, however feel free to improvise and describe the process to your child in the way you feel they will best understand.


1. Put both laces on one side of the shoe.
2. Pick up one lace and go over and under the other lace.
3. Hold the ends of both laces and pull tightly.
4. Pick up the middle of the left lace and pinch it at the bottom. Hold it close to the shoe.
5. Pick up the other lace and wrap it around the loop.
6. Push the lace through with your finger.
7. Grab each loop with a hand and pull.

1. Pick up both laces and make and "X"
2. Pinch the "X" where the laces cross
3. Take the "purple" lace and fold it over the "white lace"
4. Pull/push it through the "tunnel"/opening
5. Pull the laces tight to form a knot
6. Make two "bunny ears" with each lace by folding them at the middle and pinching the bottom
7. Make and "X" with your "bunny ears"
8. Pinch the "X" where the laces cross
9. Take the "purple" lace and fold it over the "white lace" and push/pull it through the new tunnel/opening
10. Pull the laces tight to form a bow

Additional Shoe Tying Resources/Tools:
Melissa & Doug Wood Lacing Sneaker
I Can Tie My Own Shoelaces (Book)
PlanToys Tie Up Shoe

What it teaches:

Fine Motor Skills
Dressing Skills
Complex Problem Solving
Perseverance in a Difficult Task

Frequently Asked Questions


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Sunday, 21 July 2024