Tips for Teaching Your Child How to Tie Shoes

From tears to cheers...teach your child to tie hisher shoes


Teaching a child to tie his/her shoes has got to be one of the most frustrating tasks for a parent of preschool or school-aged children (or maybe it is just me).  I think I would much rather potty train a toddler than attempt to teach a five-year old how to tie his shoes.

Okay, perhaps that’s a little bit of a stretch…but it is tough work.

Although this task is very important if your child attends school outside of the home, it is also very important for their self-help/adaptive development.  We could just buy them Velcro shoes for the rest of their life (and believe me, I’ve considered it), but at some point your child will need to know how to tie a simple bow knot.

I’ve been working with Big Brother for a couple weeks now (here and there).  Although he hasn’t mastered the skill quite yet, he has made a lot of progress!  I am far from an expert (I have yet to successfully teach a child quite yet), but thought I would share a few tricks we’ve learned along the way (and also some helpful suggestions from my wonderful readers).


1.  Start ‘em young.  No, no, no…I don’t mean to break out the shoelaces with your 2-year old and begin practicing.  Shoe-tying requires precise fine motor control, which is difficult for many young children.  When your child is a toddler, begin working on activities that require your child to use the small muscles in his/her hands.  As she progresses through her development, continue presenting challenging fine motor tasks.  When the time comes that your child needs to learn to tie her shoes, she’ll have lots of opportunities to develop those small hand muscles!  Looking for more fine motor activities, check out our Fine Motor Pinterest board.


2.  Be patient.  Teaching a child to tie his/her shoes is tough.  They probably won’t “get it” the first, second, or even twentieth time that you show them.  Hang in there…your child won’t be graduating high school still wearing Velcro shoes.  It will happen at some point.


3.  Give lots of praise.  Celebrate the small steps.  Once your child can complete the first step (crossing and pulling the shoelaces), praise him/her for their hard work.  Turn on some fun music and make shoe-tying practice a fun and enjoyable time!


4.  Work on shoe-tying for 15-20 minutes at a time.  I made the mistake of working with Big Brother for an hour one day.  I gave lots of praise and he made a lot of progress, but he was done with shoe-tying by the end.  Splitting it up into smaller increments makes it much less frustrating for your child (and you).


5.  Start big.  Several people on my Facebook page shared that they first taught their child how to tie a bow using a jump rope underneath both of their legs.  Once they mastered the skill on a larger scale, they then let him/her try it using shoelaces.






6.  Get the right laces.  Use flat, long laces to teach your child to tie his/her shoes.  The rounded laces are sometimes too difficult for little fingers to manipulate.


7.  Don’t lace the top holes on your shoe.  I’ve found that most shoelaces are just a tiny bit shorter than what is easiest for kids to learn to tie.  Remedy this problem by lacing only to the second holes from the top of the shoe.  This will give just a little bit of extra length for your child to work with.


8.  Mark and make a knot in the laces.  I learned this from the Magical Molly video  (although we simplified and adapted it quite a bit), I just marked the laces with a Sharpie where the first loop will be made and then then made a knot where he will pull it through the hole.







Helpful Resources:

Magical Molly Shoe-tying video resource for parents

Magical Molly Shoe-Tying Video for Kids (I didn’t actually show this to Big Brother since he already had the first step down and I didn’t want to confuse him, but it is a good resource).

Easy Shoe Tying Video (this looks GREAT and super easy for little kids but we had already started working on tying shoes using the loop and swoop method, so I didn’t try this with Big Brother as not to confuse him).

Melissa & Doug Wood Lacing Sneaker:  We don’t personally have this, but many people have suggested it to introduce a child to the concept of lacing and tying shoes.  It is basically just a tool to practice without having to put a shoes on your child’s feet.

Wood Lacing Sneaker


Check out more tips from moms and dads like you on my Facebook page.


Learning about Spatial Awareness with Boxes

Spatial Awareness with Boxes

Post by Contributing Writer Jennie

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE doing my Christmas shopping online!  When the packages arrive on my front porch I am not only excited for the contents inside, but I am just as excited for the boxes they came in!  Around our house, boxes equal hours of play time fun for all three kiddos!  They also provide an excellent activity to teach spatial awareness.

Here is what you’ll need: boxes of various sizes and a few toys

To get started, set the box on the floor with a few toys inside of it and invite your little one(s) to come and explore.


Gently set your baby inside of the box or let your bigger kids climb inside.








I started with a smaller box that Twin Girl and Twin Boy could see out of, and then I moved them to a bigger box that had taller “walls.”  This was a fun place for them to “hide” and play peek-a-boo.



I took this box and opened up both ends to make a tunnel that they could crawl through.


We also have a really big box that they could all walk or crawl inside of.




Our all time favorite box is one that their Daddy made into a “fort!”  He cut a little door out of it and some windows too.  They absolutely LOVE crawling in and out!


I laugh to myself when I see my kids try to squeeze through a tiny gap between our furniture and the wall because I know that there is no way they can do it; however, they do not know this yet.  They need those opportunities to understand how their body size and shape fits in a given area.  Using boxes to teach spatial awareness to young children allows them this key opportunity.


Jennie is a stay-at-home mom to a 3 year old boy and 1 year old boy/girl twins.  She received a degree in early childhood education and has several years of experience teaching both Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten prior to having children.  She realizes that as busy moms we need simple ideas that will make a BIG difference to our young children!

Printable Morning Routine Cards

It’s August, which means school is starting soon…and so are the crazy, chaotic mornings.  Help minimize the frustration by using these Morning Routine Cards!

The purpose of these cards is to encourage a bit of independence in the process of getting ready for the day.  And if you use a magnetic knife bar like we did, they are SUPER easy to rearrange and change (if needed).

Big Brother will be going to preschool 3 mornings each week at a local church-based preschool.  School starts at 8:30am.  I am the antithesis of a morning person, so establishing a morning routine is key for us this year.  I decided I would start a few weeks early because I figured it would take a while to get the hang of this new Morning Routine Card system.


I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The night after we hung these Routine Cards in his room, he woke me up by saying, “Mommy, I already did all of my cards!”  Sure enough…toothpaste on the chin, shirt on (backwards), and bed made!  I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least!!!

And best of all, I want to share these Morning Routine Cards with each of you!  Download and print your choice of 4 colors by clicking on the links below!

BLUE Morning Routine Cards

PINK Morning Routine Cards

GREEN Morning Routine Cards

RED Morning Routine Cards


To make the cards:

1.  Print your cards.  I decided to mount them (and round the corners) onto some red scrapbook paper to add a little bit of contrast.

2.  Laminate the cards.  This step definitely isn’t required but it will help them hold up longer.  I have used this laminator for the last couple of years and I love it!  I buy the generic pouches at Sam’s (a box of 200 for $20) and have had great success!

3.  Add your magnets on the back.  I pieced the remaining adhesive magnet roll I had left (that was sent to me for free from  Ideally, you would magnetize the entire back…but I just used what I had on hand!

To hold the cards, I purchased this 18-inch Magnetic Knife Holder from Amazon.  I wanted something that could easily be adjusted and something that we could add on to later down the road (once Big Brother can do his own hair, for example).  :)  This has worked perfectly for us and is sturdy enough to survive my rough boys!!



And here it is on the wall, underneath my favorite picture of all time



 Yep, his shirt is on backwards.  But he dressed himself without me even having to ask, so I’m not complaining!


In addition to these Morning Routine Cards, I also bought a hanging closet organizer.  They have some that already have the weekday names on them, but I opted for the cheaper route and then attached my own with some packing tape.  :)  I also wanted to make sure we had a Sunday slot as well since we want our boys to look nice for church on Sundays.

On the days that Big Brother goes to Preschool and Church, he will have clothes ready and waiting for him in his closet.  On the days that we are at home, he gets to choose whatever he wants to wear.  After much thought, this was the best way I could come up with to ensure he isn’t dressed like a pauper when he goes to school and church but also still gets to show some independence by choosing his clothing on the “off” days.


*After taking these pictures, I moved the weekday signs to the bottom of each shelf instead of the top.  It was much less confusing this way.


It’s been almost a week since we’ve implemented our new Morning Routine Cards and closet organizer system and it has been AMAZING!!!


My Potential Future Project…Making some Morning Routine Cards for MYSELF.  First on the routine chart would be “Get your rear end out of bed before the kids.”  Do you think they have clipart for that???  ;)


*The links in this post are my affiliate links.  Please read my full disclosure.

Swimming Lessons: Why Every Child Needs Them

As summer draws near and we spend more time in swimming pools and lakes, it’s important as parents of young children to be extremely vigilant around the water.

Here are some alarming statistics about drowning from the CDC:


-Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for children under 14 years of age.

-80% of drowning deaths are males.

-In 2007, there were an average of 10 drowning deaths each day in the US alone.

-In 2007, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, almost 30% died from drowning.

-For every child who dies from drowning, another four received emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

-Among children ages 1 to 4 years, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools. Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.

Here’s the good news:  Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1 to 4 years (source).  

Both of our boys (4 years and 2 years) recently started taking swimming lessons at a local swim club.  Prior to this, Big Brother had loosely participated in a toddler swimming class.  After brushing up on these alarming facts on drowning (especially since we have a pond in our backyard), I am upset with myself for not starting these lessons sooner!

The swimming lessons the boys are taking are hard-core.  In fact, they ask that parents don’t even watch for the first few sessions because it distracts the kids and often makes them emotional.  The instructors are tender with the emotions and feelings of the children but they also realize that the reason they are there is to learn how to swim…and learning to swim could save that child’s life someday.

If you don’t have your child enrolled in swimming lessons, I would HIGHLY recommend it!  If you are unable to afford swimming lessons, check with your local YMCA, fitness club, or parks & recreation department to see if they have any discounts available.  You could even ask grandparents and family members to give swimming lessons as a birthday/Christmas gift instead of toys!


*If this post resonated with you, would you consider sharing it with others?  I had no idea of some of these statistics until I started researching it…EVERY parent needs to know this information!

The 5 Best Board Games for Young Children…and why you should play them!


There are so many great reasons to play board games with your child(ren)!  First of all, board games allows you to spend quality, intentional, and uninterrupted time with your children.  In this world filled with constant distractions and Facebook beckoning our every waking moment, it’s easy to try to multitask while spending time with our kids.  Chances are that by diving into a board game, you are committing to playing until that game is finished.  If you’re playing Chutes and Ladders, which is a game that never. seems. to. end., finishing a game might not be doable…which is precisely why it wasn’t including on our list!  :)

Second to quality time together as a family, children learn how to take turns and be graceful losers when playing board games.  Playing together offers the perfect time to demonstrate to your child(ren) how to be a good sport.  It is easy as parents to want to let our children win every single time we play because we don’t want to harm their fragile self-esteem.  That is the absolute worst thing we can do for our kids.  There is a time for winning and a time for losing…children should frequently experience both to learn how to handle the triumphs and disappointments that will inevitably come later in life.

Big Brother (4 years) is extremely competitive.  He gets angry when he loses at anything…or at least he used to.  Playing together as a family has offered us a perfect opportunity to teach him how to handle his feelings of disappointment in a positive way.  Now, he will usually (though not always) shake hands after he has lost or say, “good job” because we have coached him during the times of playing together as a family.

Finally, board games are excellent for your child’s cognitive development.  Even the simplest of board games includes some type of strategy as well as counting, color recognition, matching, and more!   Children learn best when they are engaged and having fun.  Board games offer exactly that!



Here are just a few of our favorite board games for young children.  Please note, this is not a sponsored review.  We are simply sharing our experience with our favorite board games in age order.


Roll and Play Board Game  :: For Children Ages 18 months and Up

Think your toddler is too young to play board games?  Think again!  This simple board game specifically geared towards toddlers is a wonderful way to introduce games to your little one.

There is a large plush die with a different color on each side is tossed.  The child then chooses the corresponding color of card and must perform the action on that card.

My favorite part of this game is the cards.  There are six colors:

  • Red:  Action Cards.  Example:  Do a silly dance.
  • Yellow:  Emotions.  Example:  Make a sleep face.
  • Purple:  Body Parts.  Example:  Rub your belly.
  • Green:  Animal Sounds.  Example:  Roar like a lion.
  • Orange:  Counting.  Example:  Clap your hands eight times.
  • Blue:  Colors.  Example:  Find something blue.
You can play this in a group and take turns or you can just let your toddler play again and again…either way, it’s an excellent first board game for kids!
The only downside?  Older kids might get bored after a while.
Zingo ::  For Children Ages 3 and Up

Our game has been well-loved…so much so that there is a hole in the box!

Zingo is, by far, Big Brother’s favorite game to play.  It is simple to understand and tons of fun for the whole family!  Rather than winning by having a certain number in-a-row like regular Bingo, in Zingo you have to fill the entire board to call out “ZINGO!”
The game comes with durable cardboard Zingo cards as well as plastic chips that are housed in an equally impressive “chip distributor”.
It is also great for matching pictures to text, even though your child will do it subconsciously.  Children younger than 3 can usually pick it up (especially if they have older siblings), but they’ll need lots of guidance.

We have a winner! He’s calling out “ZINGO!”

We only have the original Zingo game, but they also make Zingo 1-2-3 (that teaches number recognition and one-to-one correspondence) and Bilingual Zingo (which is in both English and Spanish).
Hi Ho Cherry-O ::  For Children Ages 3 and Up
Hi Ho Cherry-O has been one of our go-to games for a while now.  An entire game can be played in about 5-10 minutes.  I love how this game teaches color recognition and one-to-one correspondence while simultaneously encouraging fine motor development as your child has to carefully place the small pieces of fruit onto the game board.  This game is also perfect for introducing turn-taking to your young child.
This game comes with the game board, baskets that are inserted into the game board, a spinner, and the individual pieces plastic of fruit.  Each person will take turns spinning the spinner and adding the specified number of cherries (or other fruit) to their basket
The downside?  The tiny pieces that go with Hi Ho Cherry-O get lost easily (which is why you’ll want to put them in a baggie ASAP) and can be dangerous to children who still put small objects in their mouths.  The quality of the game board could be better as well.
The Ladybug Game ::  For Children Ages 4 and Up 
The Ladybug Game is near and dear to my heart because it was actually invented by a first grader (the grade that I taught before staying home with my two boys)!  I love how this game blends fun with learning about ladybugs (what they eat and who preys on them) as well as lots of counting practice.  The box says it is appropriate for ages 3 and up…but I would suggest it for kids 4 or older as there is quite a bit of components to this game that could get confusing.
It is a typical board game with various colors of ladybugs for the markers.  Each player must draw a ladybug card and then follow the directions on that card (either move a certain number forward or a certain number back).  Some cards even have a little ladybug at the bottom that means you get another turn, which you have to be paying close attention to notice (oops).  Then there is another component of collecting aphid cards to use just in case you land on a certain spot.
The only downside?  The Ladybug Game can take a while to finish (still not anywhere near as bad as Chutes and Ladders) and can get confusing if you don’t pay close attention to each of the components.
Bug Trails ::  For Children Ages 5 and Up (or modified for younger children)
Bug Trails is a domino game with a twist!  We really enjoyed playing this game and I think it is one that will easily grow with our family!  We modified the game slightly to make it simple enough for Big Brother to play.  As the boys get older, however, we’ll be able to modify it to make it more challenging.  This would also be a fun game to play with another family!
What I really like about Bug Trails (rather than just plain old dominoes) is the fact that there is more strategy involved.  Each bug has six legs.  You have to try to match the color of at least one of the legs of your bug to one of the bug pieces already played (if you have older children, there will be “flag” that you’ll use so that the next player can only play on that particular bug…we skipped that to simplify the game).  If you only match one leg, you have to draw another bug from the bag.  If you match two legs, you don’t have to draw another.  If you match three legs, you get to put one of your bug pieces back into the bug bag.  The first player to run out of bugs wins!




What are your family’s favorite board games any why???




*Please note:  The links in this post are my affiliate links.  Please read my full disclosure policy.