Category Archives: Bilateral Skills

Shoe Tying Tips & Tricks

I have to admit that my daughter who recently turned 6 has not learned to tie her shoes. My mom tells me that when I was in preschool I was the kid tying other kids shoes under the table (not sure why we were under the table but thats besides the point!). I would have been four years old in preschool. It seems that kids these days are learning some of these skills later in life. Is it because of the invention of velcro shoes or are we just not teaching them these skills when we used to? Since my daughter is starting grade 1 really soon I thought now is the time to focus on teaching her to tie her shoelaces. Today I used the video below for the around the tree method and a lacing card I made (picture below) and she picked it up very quickly!

Here are some general tips and tricks I have compiled for children learning to tie their shoes or those that are needing some extra help learning:

  • Replace thin, round shoelaces with soft, wide (but not too wide) shoelaces that are easier to grip (also they stay tighter when tied)
  • Cotton or other natural fibres will be easier then slippery synthetic shoelaces
  • Use shoelaces that are designed for learning – half one colour and half another colour (can make them by cutting two different coloured laces and sewing or tying them together)
  • Try using a double starting knot to keep the shoelaces tight
  • Knot the end of each shoelace to prevent them from slipping through the loops
  • Have the child start practicing with the shoe on a table or on their lap so they are in a good, comfortable position
  • Help your child to make their own shoelace tying practice board out of cardboard


  • There are commercially available products to help with practicing (e.g. Melissa & Doug lacing sneaker)
  • Try out different methods to see which works best for your child:
    • Standard shoelace knot (around the tree method) – see video here
    • Two loop shoelace knot (bunny ears method)
    • Ian knot – see video here
  • Make sure your child’s shoes are untied every time they take them off so they can practice each time they put their shoes on – repetition is the key to success

Good luck!


Mr. Ball – Increase Hand Strength, Pincer Grasp & Coordination

Mr. Ball activities are great for working on:

  • Hand strength – helps develop the arches of the hand
  • Pincer grasp – picking up objects with thumb and fingertips
  • Translation skills – moving objects from the palm to the fingertips
  • Bilateral skills – using both hands together

How to make Mr. Ball:

  • Make a mouth by cutting a slit in the middle of a tennis ball using an utility knife (be careful!)
  • Decorate your Mr. Ball with googly eyes, hair, anything you want!
  • To make the activity easier – make the slit larger
  • To make the activity harder – make the slit shorter

Activity ideas:

  • Feed Mr. Ball by squeezing his mouth open with one hand and feeding him objects with the other hand:
    • Coins
    • Pom poms
    • Marbles
    • Buttons
    • Beads
    • Dried beans
    • Pieces of paper
  • Make Mr. Ball talk and play with other Mr. Balls

Ways to change the activity:

  • If it is too hard – place your hand on top of the childs and help them squeeze the ball
  • To work on translation skills – have the child pick up more than one object and feed Mr. Ball one object at a time
  • To work on colours – ask the child to pick up a certain colour object and feed it to Mr. Ball
  • To work on letters – use letter tiles/magnets and ask the child to feed Mr. Ball a certain letter
  • To work on counting – ask the child to feed Mr. Ball a certain number of objects
  • To add a resistive component – hide the coins in putty and have the child take it out before feeding it to Mr. Ball