Tying a Word

I frequently get requests from teachers and parents to help students learn to tie their shoes. However, these students typically come to school in velcro or slip on shoes for more independence and I don’t always have an extra shoe available. This activity is a fun and academically related way to practice tying a bow.

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OT Skills this Activity Targets:

-bilateral motor coordination

-visual motor skills

-fine motor skills


Materials/Equipment Needed:



-single hole punch


-transparent tape

Instructions to Make the Activity:

Cut out rectangles of cardstock, mine are about 3×2 inches. Write one letter per card (make extra of commonly used letters) and punch a hole on either side. I also laminated my cards for durability. Cut yarn into 6 inch pieces.

How to Play:

Spread the cards on the table or the floor. Have the student scan for the letters of a designated word, collect the cards, and tie together using a bow. One word will require multiple pieces of string. Many students often need to see a sample of a completed tied word to motor-plan this novel task the first time.

How to Grade the Challenge

-Random letter card placement makes visual scanning more difficult while placing the cards in straight rows decreases the challenge. Also pay attention to letter orientation (i.e. upside down or turned on its side).

-If tying a bow is too challenging, a simple overhand knot can be taught.

-Add tape to end of yarn for ease of threading.

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