It’s a rite of passage: learning to tie your own shoes! Some kids pick this up quickly, while others need a lot of practice. Learn how to teach kids to tie shoes with these clever tips, videos, books, and activities.
(WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
Tips for Teaching Kids To Tie Their Shoes
This can be a frustrating experience for everyone, so here are some tips and tricks to make things easier.
Take off your shoes
It’s much harder to practice tying shoes when they’re on your feet. Instead, place shoes on a table at kid height so they can see what they’re doing up close. (Lay down some newspaper if you’re worried about getting the table dirty.)
Sit in the right place
If both you and the child are right-handed or left-handed, then you can sit side-by-side so they can see exactly what you’re doing. But if you’re right-handed and they’re left-handed (or vice versa), sit facing them instead, so they can mirror your actions.
Start with pipe cleaners
Source: Your Kids OT
Shoelaces can be frustratingly floppy. Pipe cleaners, however, hold their shape nicely and make it easier to do things step-by-step.
Use split-color laces
Make it easier to see exactly what the laces are doing by having one color on each side. These specialized laces are worth the investment, plus they look pretty cool on kids’ shoes even after they learn!
Be patient—practice makes perfect
This really goes for any skill you’re teaching, of course, but it’s especially key with shoe-tying. Give your child or students every opportunity to practice. You might be tempted to take over when you’re in a hurry, but try to make time to let them give it at least a couple of tries. Try different methods (see below), and if kids get overly frustrated, take some time off and try again later.
How To Teach Kids To Tie Shoes: Methods
If you’ve tied your shoes the same way your whole life, it might surprise you to learn there are actually a variety of different ways to do it. What’s best for you might not be best for a child, so learn the different methods and give each one a shot.
This one is also known as “loop, swoop, and pull.” It’s probably the most traditional way of tying your shoes. We also love this video, which shows a kid demonstrating the same method.
2-Loop Method (Bunny Ears)
This cute method, using bunny “ears” and “tails,” is much easier for some kids. For students who need a little extra help making the ears, watch this version of the bunny ears method.
Modified Bunny Ears
Here’s another version that makes the bunny method as easy as can be. Watch a mom demonstrate, and then see her child show off their skills.
The Ian Knot
Forget all the loops and swoops, and try the Ian Method instead. With just a couple of simple moves, your shoes will be tied in no time flat.
How To Teach Kids To Tie Shoes: Books
These books are great for introducing the subject or giving students practice.
How To … Tie Your Shoes
This cute book includes a practice shoe built right in. So smart!
Buy it: How To … Tie Your Shoes board book at Amazon
Red Lace, Yellow Lace
This is one of the most popular books on Amazon for teaching kids to tie their shoes. One reviewer says, “My son knew how to tie his shoes in less than 10 minutes of practice. The visuals in the book and dual-colored strings really helped.”
Buy it: Red Lace, Yellow Lace at Amazon
Boo would rather wear shoes without laces than learn how to tie his shoes. His friend Farah Fox is here to change his mind!
Buy it: Boo’s Shoes at Amazon
Charlie Shoe and the Great Lace Mystery
Charlie’s untied shoelaces keep tripping him up. Fortunately, his friend Sophie has a clever rhyme to help him learn to tie his shoelaces.
Buy it: Charlie Shoe and the Great Lace Mystery at Amazon
I Can Tie My Own Shoes
Here’s another book with a practice shoe included. A reviewer says, “My son literally learned how to tie his shoes the exact same day we got the book.”
Buy it: I Can Tie My Own Shoes at Amazon
Activities and Products for Teaching Kids To Tie Shoes
There are some cool learning toys available for helping kids master this key skill. Plus, other parents and teachers have come up with some really clever ideas.
Craft tissue box shoes
Kids’ shoes can be really small, making it harder for them to work with the laces. This easy craft gives them a larger practice surface.
Learn more: Laughing Kids Learn
Use a wooden shoe model
Classrooms will benefit from sturdy wood models like this one, which can be used again and again, year after year.
Buy it: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wood Lacing Sneaker at Amazon
Try some lacing cards
Lacing cards are a classic way to help teach kids to tie shoes. If kids have trouble keeping them in place, try taping them to the desk or floor.
Buy it: Toyvian Shoe Lacing Cards at Amazon
DIY your own lacing cards
No need to buy these—you can make your own! Get the free printable at the link, then add your own laces.
Learn more: Living Life and Learning
Make a bunny board
If you’re using the bunny ears method, make a bunny board so it’s easier for kids to visualize the ears.
Learn more: Education.com
Sing the Bunny Ears song
This sweet song is perfect for kids learning to tie shoelaces the bunny ears way.
Celebrate shoe-tying success
Give your students something tangible to celebrate when they’ve finally mastered this “grown-up” skill!
If you’ve got more tips for how to teach kids to tie their shoelaces, come share them on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook!