Learning how to tie their shoes can be frustrating for some children. To be successful, children must have strong hand muscles and good fine motor coordination. To help support these underlying skills, try some of these fine motor activities at home.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Have your child move cotton balls from one bowl to another using their pincer grasp (thumb and pointer finger), tongs, or tweezers. Squeezing the tongs will help strengthen his hands.
  • Three-year-olds—Encourage your child to dress and undress herself independently. See if she can manipulate the buttons, snaps, and zippers on her own.
  • Four/Five-year-olds—When you think your child is ready to attempt lace tying, introduce the skill using ribbon. Tie a long piece of wire ribbon (1/2”-1” thick) around the leg of a chair in a simple knot. Then, model how to tie the ‘shoelaces’ (ribbon) into a bow. Let your child practice as many times as he wants and maintains interest. Don’t force it if he’s not ready.

Skills Supported: hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills (using tongs/tweezers, tying shoelaces), self-dressing, independence, confidence, self-help skills