Saturday, June 14, 2014

Loop, Swoop, HELP! Top 10 Resources (including apps) to teach shoe tying

Shoe tying is tricky business for lots of kids. I remember how challenging it was to teach my own children. My daughter is left-handed and every attempt ended in frustration until her lefty grandmother came to our rescue. For my son with weak fine motor skills, this task seemed downright impossible. Our Smart Apps staff OT, Shelly, pointed out that it's difficult because many skills go in to shoe tying including: a good pinch, good visual perceptual skills, stereognosis (the ability to perceive an object using tactile information) and good memory/sequencing skills. Whew, no wonder it's so tricky. Planning to tackle this skill over the summer? Take a look at these 10 resources (apps, a video, a book and more) to find the method that works best for your child.

If you would like to download an app, please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by using the links provided.

Recommended Apps

Shoe Tying 1 - Activity App by Accelerations Educational Software
Read Jill's 4.5 star review
Shoe Tying 1: Single Loop – Off Foot – Version 1: The Activity Trainer – Activity App – Shoe Tying 1 teaches a child, student, or special needs individual to tie a shoe. 
Teach your child to tie shoes in a fraction of the time with this video modeling made practical app! 

This app combines systematic teaching and video modeling into a practical teaching environment simple enough for parents and others not highly trained in these methods. This is an educational power tool that anyone can use! 

This app takes the frustration out of teaching shoe tying for the parent and the child. The app breaks down shoe tying into individual video steps that the student can master one-by-one building confidence and cooperation. The app teaches both the skill and the associated language with the various steps of shoe tying. The teacher can easily control the presentations to the student while assisting and fading the assistance until the student is independent. The teacher can easily replay individual steps and sequences in video or image formats. 

(iPad/iPhone, $4.99)

Show Me How: Shoe Tying by Goatella

Show Me How: Shoe Tying is an app that teaches the user how to tie their shoes using video modeling. Video modeling is useful for both regular education and special education students. 

The student can start by watching how to tie their shoes as a series of videos. You can replay each step as many times as you want before moving on to the next step in the shoe tying process. 

Once the student is able to follow the video, they can move on to images with audio prompts. This has the same audio instruction as the video, but just a photo of each step instead of a video. 

Finally the student can progress to just using the photo prompts with no audio. 

(iPhone/iPad, $1.99)

Tie Your Shoes by, inc.

This app was designed to teach all children to tie their shoes, especially those children whose learning needs flourish with strong, graphic instruction reinforced by repetition. 

 From “Pick up the shoe laces” to the final “Congratulations” each step is its own video clip including verbal instructions to reinforce the images in the video. 

Our “learning loop” approach let’s you easily repeat each step and conveniently start over when necessary. This creates a custom learning environment for your child focusing preciously on those steps that need the most attention. 

Repetition is the key to mastery and this app let’s you use this powerful tool to your complete advantage. It’s the perfect way to learn. 

(iPhone, $0.99)

Ian's Laces - How to tie and lace shoes by Ultra Software Solutions, LLC


Are your shoes laced up with an "ordinary" lacing method? Are you still tying them with the same "bunny ears" shoelace knot that you learned as a child? You may be surprised at what's possible! 

Compiled by Ian "Professor Shoelace" Fieggen, creator of the web's number one site about shoelaces, this app brings together more than a decade of Ian's shoelace research. Plus, you'll get exclusive material not available on the web site (or anywhere else). 

"Ian's Laces" includes 52 different lacing methods, many of which have several variations, for a total of 112 possibilities. Cool, trendy methods. Useful, practical methods. Unusual, special purpose methods. Each method includes one or more clear, color-coded diagrams, plus detailed, step-by-step instructions and helpful tips.  

(iPhone/iPad, $1.99)

How to Tie Your Shoes by Jill Dust

This application teaches children a simple way to tie shoes. One option slowly demonstrates the sequential steps in a 1st person view; the other option teaches the steps through music and lyrics. Created by a preschool teacher and classroom tested! This app makes learning to tie your shoes FUN and SIMPLE!

(iPhone/iPad, $2.99)

Shadow Puppet by Shadow Puppet Inc.

Video modeling using a top-down approach is commonly recommended by the OTs that I spoke with regarding shoe tying. This is a fabulous free app that allows you to create custom videos using pictures, video clips and narration. Use one of these resources as a model to create a step by step sequence featuring your child and the specific shoe he/she is using to learn. In even better news, it's free and can also be used in a variety of other ways. Learn more about this app here.

(iPhone/iPad, Free)


Videos and other Resources

Magic Fingers Method - This video shows a unique method and then breaks it down into simple steps. I really wish I had known about this approach when my son was learning.

Use a Jump Rope to Practice - Maria at the Montessori for Learning blog wrote about her struggles teaching her daughter to tie her shoes. She  had success using a jump rope so her daughter was better able to see the movements on a bigger scale. Check out her story here.

Red Lace, Yellow Lace book by Mark Casey, Judith Herbst, and Jenny Stanley

Several occupational therapists have suggested using two different colored laces. This helps by providing a clear distinction between the laces and makes it easier to follow the step by step directions.  Many of my students would find it easier to follow directions including colors rather than left/right. This book incorporates this idea in a cute way with fun rhymes.  It is available in a variety of stores for around $12. There were plenty of used copies available of Red Lace, Yellow Lace on Amazon for as low at $0.69.

Loopeez - Shoe tying aid

A mother of three invented this product that goes directly on the shoe and makes the shoe tying process a little easier. It is available in 10 fun styles and is sold in packages of two for $7.95. Their website has a tab devoted to special needs and rehab featuring information of one-handed shoe tying, teaching children with Autism and more.  This video demonstrates how the product works, but it can be used with other methods as well.

Do you have a tip, trick or suggestion to help children with special needs learn to tie their shoes?  We'd love to hear from you.  Please share in the comments below.

Sarah is writing this post while watching the World Cup games because she LOVES soccer.

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