Thursday, 14 January 2016

Tied Up

If this is your first year as a teacher and you are over the moon about beginning in a junior primary classroom then you need to read this!

It's a discussion that no-one had with me in my pre-service days but boy did I learn fast about shoelaces and the yucky, icky truth! If you have food in your hands - please eat first and then read. Maybe wait a little bit and then read.

I trained for upper primary but spent the first few years of teaching with junior primary. As a rule I really enjoyed the age but admittedly this age group do have some...habits that tend to gross you out...and today I am going to write about one.


As a mum I am thankful my kids have Velcro on their shoes - so much easier at such a young age. As a kid though I couldn't wait to get my first pair of "big girl shoes" - yes, they had laces. Now as a rule girl's keep their shoelaces clean (unless they've been outside and the laces come undone and then they've walked through puddles and mud and get the idea) boys however are a different matter altogether.

Now it isn't all boys but most suffer from the same problem. You see it comes down to the toilet. If you've never been inside a girl vs boy bathroom/toilet since you were in school then I say you need to familiarise yourself on a Friday after school when the kids are all gone. You will notice a difference. The girls' bathroom will probably be a bit muddy on the floor, usually paper where it shouldn't be and bubbles in the trough. That's the worst I've ever seen. Now the boys' bathroom. You will know it before you get there because of the smell! If your school has a urinal that flushes regularly then it might help a bit but I've worked in schools where it only flushes a handful of times a day (and in an Aussie get the smell!) The floor will be a mixture of water, mud and wee - and here is the difference between girls and boys.

So what? Well each time the boys go to the bathroom and their shoelaces are undone what do you think they are trailing in? Close your eyes and imagine a kids coming up to you to say: Can you tie my shoelaces? *shudder*

It used to be that parents' would teach their children to tie their laces - Mum told me I could only have proper shoes when I could tie the laces myself (which is why I had to wait until grade 1 as it took ages for me to learn - and even then it was the rabbit ears that came to the rescue). Sadly it seems more and more kids are not being taught and it falls to the teacher to either teach it or spend half of every yard duty tying up shoelaces.

First important note - make sure you have a hand sanitiser on you for yard duty. It is a quick way to refresh your hands and feel clean again. If liquid hand sanitisers are not allowed due to OHS&W then I recommend antibacterial wipes. You can usually buy them in small packets which fit well in your pocket and the wipes don't tend to leave your hands feeling 'wet'.

Now to combat the shoelaces
Learning to tie laces takes time and patience which is why I made it an activity for my students who had finished their work early. Here's how to set up a mini-life skills station.

What will you need?
* at least 2 pairs of shoes (I got mine for A$2 a pair when the season clearance sales started)
* enough pairs of shoes for the shoes you have
* craft stuffing (I like Hobby Fill)
* cotton to sew and a needle

Make sure the socks are the same size as your shoes otherwise they won't fit properly. Stuff you socks with stuffing (don't stuff to the point it is unmovable - it should be spongy to touch). Make sure you get the heel stuff so that your sock looks like it has a foot in it. Sew up the top of the sock - either by hand with a needle and thread or on a sewing machine.

Put it together
Untie the laces on the shoes and insert the stuffed sock. You may need to wiggle it a bit to get it to fit in properly. Then tie up the laces and adjust the sock as necessary.
There are several methods to tie your shoelaces ("rabbit ears" and "around the tree" are two that spring to mind). I decided to go with a pre-made instruction sheet that is also FREE!

****Click on the picture to go directly to SparkleBox and download the instruction sheet I used (they also have each step in flash card style) and is available in in English and Portuguese.****

I trimmed it back a little and mounted it on red paper before laminating. Not necessary but I thought it added a bit more appeal.

Find a spot
I just stored the shoes and instructions together on a shelf at the back of the room near our class library. Was a really great quiet activity.
Once students should show me (without looking at the instruction sheet) that they could tie their shoes I gave them a certificate. I printed them as mini-versions (about 8 to page) as they fit nicely in their diaries. These are also available for FREE from Sparklebox. Click the image to download (available in English, Spanish and Portuguese)


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