20+ Tips, Tricks, and Activities for Teaching Kids To Tie Their Shoes

Bunny ears, loop-swoop-pull, and more!

Collage of How To Teach Kids to Tie Shoes Activities

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.

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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

Tennis shoe with green and yellow pipe cleaners forming a bow. Text reads Pipecleaners help with tying shoelaces!

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

Black tennis shoe with split color laces that are half white, half red (How to Teach Kids to Tie Shoes)

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!

Buy it: Adapt-Ease Multi-Color Tying Aid Learning Shoelaces

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.

1-Loop Method

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

How to Tie Your Shoes board book

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

Red Lace Yellow Lace book to teach kids to tie shoes

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’s Shoes

Boo's Shoes book to teach kids to tie shoes

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 Shoe and the Great Lace Mystery book

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

I Can Tie My Own Shoelaces book

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

Toddler holding a shoe made from a tissue box and shoelaces

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

Large wood model of a high-top sneaker used to teach kids to tie their shoes

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

Sturdy cards in the shape of shoes, with real shoe laces

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

DIY shoe lacing cards made from laminated paper

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

Cardboard with bunny face and shoelace loops to represent ears (How to teach kids to tie shoes)

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

Printable shoes laced with twine reading I can tie my shoes with kid's names on them

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!

Plus, check out Kindergarten Teachers Want Incoming Students to Focus on Life Skills, Not Academic Ones.

20+ Tips, Tricks, and Activities for Teaching Kids To Tie Their Shoes