Did you know that the journey to being able to write correctly should start long before your child really even knows how to form letters or shapes? It starts with the strengthening of fine motor skills.

Today I’m sharing one of our favorite homeschooling activities. I have three homeschooled children, ages 6 and 4. Yes, twins! It’s not nearly as chaotic as it may seem. To get their little wrists and fingers ready for writing, we do various activities but their favorite by far is lacing cards, taking shoestrings and threading them through holes in specific shapes.

What You’ll Need:

  • cardstock or foam from a craft store (it needs to be sturdy)
  • hole punch
  • scissors
  • shoelaces, or yarn
  • laminator or self-laminating envelopes for extra stability (optional)

Prepping for Play


    1. Cut cardstock into various shapes. Use geometric shapes to practice math or letters for letter recognition.
    2. Punch holes about 3/4 or 1 inch apart around the edge of each of the shapes.

Play Time!


Give your child(ren) the string to weave through the holes!

I’ve found that this activity provides a nice session for strengthening tiny little fingers and wrist muscles that my four-year-olds have, but the imagination portion that stems from it is priceless. The song “Go through, go up, go down…” is usually what accompanies my daughter as she strings her shoestring through her shapes.

Some parents aren’t aware of how important it is to do these activities in conjunction with introducing crayons, pencils, markers and other writing utensils to their children. It’s essential because these activities help children perfect their pincer grip – you know, using your thumb and pointer finger together to grab things – which is necessary to hold a pencil properly.
Activities like this are crucial because it allows a break in the sometimes monotonous tasks of tracing or even coloring, and provides a wide range of motion that children can use. They’ll also become aware of the roles of their dominant and non-dominant hands. Stabilizing the cutouts while working the shoestring through the holes really strengthens those little fingers and muscles.

About Natasha Nicholes

Natasha blogs about sewing, cooking, and homeschooling her three young children at Houseful of Nicholes.

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  • http://www.mouseinmypocket.com/ Andrea Turner

    Thanks for the tips! Do you ever print out fun pictures for the kids to lace around?

    • http://www.pbs.org/parents/ Mary Hope Garcia – PBS Parents

      That’s a great idea! You could even lace these Daniel Tiger and friends masks!

    • http://www.housefulofnicholes.com/ Natasha Nicholes

      Andrea, I have not, but we are planning to do more seasonal themed lacing cards for them. I will definitely put the printing of some pictures on cardstock on my list of figures to do.

  • Mandi Buckner

    I love this idea! My little one isn’t quite old enough for this yet. Right now she’s working those fine motor skills by scribbling and coloring.

    • http://www.housefulofnicholes.com/ Natasha Nicholes

      That’s one of the best ways to work your wrists! Even crawling is helpful!

  • Pamela : Still Dating MySpouse

    Oh this is a really cool idea. I never thought about having the three year old do something like this to help with her motor skills.Thanks for this tip.

    • http://www.housefulofnicholes.com/ Natasha Nicholes

      She should have lots of fun! And it doesn’t take us being super crafty either! I cut all of my shapes freehand (except the circle, I cheated and used something circular)

  • BrandiJeter

    This is a really fun and easy idea! I could do this for Ayva but with designs and different colors of string! Thank you!

    • http://www.housefulofnicholes.com/ Natasha Nicholes

      You’re more than welcome! The different string colors were definitely a hit in my home!

  • Eric Weinstein

    There’s a searchable database of learning strategies and teacher-reviewed resources by cognitive skills (how you learn) as well as academic subject (what you know). https://mindprintlearning.com/