Lacing & Tracing Activities for Brain-Building Fun

Lacing and Tracing Activities for Brain-Building FUN!As your child gets ready to go ice-skating this year, take a deep breath, summons all your patience, and let them lace up their ice-skates on their own. LACING is great fine-motor practice, and what better way to start the shoe-tying lessons than with a pair of ice skates or tall winter boots!

No ice rinks in December where you live? How ’bout letting your child practice their TRACING skills instead. Every parent of a preschooler has seen some holiday-themed craft that starts with tracing their child’s hand and then turning it into an adorable personalized decoration (usually featuring some very uneven googley eyes). But . . . do you let your child do the tracing, or do you do it for them?

Here’s a handful of LACING & TRACING ideas, games, and activities for you to try with your little one!

Patterning & Lacing Games

Patterning & Lacing Games

Most parents know that teaching kids about patterns helps them learn their colors, shapes, and sizes. But did you know that patterning can also foster problem-solving skills, help kids understand mathematical concepts, and set the stage for pre-writing skills? Yup! The simple act of teaching kids how to recognize and replicate a pattern is a BRAIN-BUILDING dynamo. Ready-made lacing kits (like a Wooden Lacing Bead Set) are a simple, engaging way to have little ones practice making patterns. Free Printable Christmas Pattern TemplateGuest Blogger Kim Vij gives her tips for working patterning in your day – indoors and out – with materials from around the house. She even includes a FREE PRINTABLE patterning game, with everything you need to print-and-pattern your way through the holidays. Click here to read Kim’s full post: “Learning with Patterns.”

Trace Blocks to Make Your Own Blueprint

Trace Blocks to Make Your Own BLUEPRINT!

If you have a budding architect in the family, you’ll love this block-play activity that has children create their own “building plan” to follow. Children trace blocks onto paper to create floor plans and patterns to replicate in terms of height, depth, and width. What a clever way to introduce little ones to concepts like elevation, scale, and perspective — in a totally hands-on way. Learn beginner tips and get expert advice, depending on the skill level of your child, in the full post: “Blueprint for Block Fun.”

Trim a “Lace-Up Tree” OR Make a “Mitten Match-Up Garland”

Trim a Lace-Up TreeMake a "Mitten Match-Up Garland"

Guest Blogger Julie Kieras proves you don’t have to be a Crafting Queen to quickly set up not one, but TWO holiday-themed lacing and tracing activities for your little ones. Paper and pencil, scissors, ribbon, and a paper punch are all you need to get started making these adorable tree and mitten decorations for your home. Julie walks you step-by-step through both activities (and includes 3 other crafts) in her full post: “6 Wondrous Winter Activities for Kids.”

6 Easy Activity Bags for Instant Entertainment and Learning

6 Easy Activity Bags to Buy You Some Quiet Time

If you’ve ever needed a quick go-to activity to occupy your preschooler, Guest Blogger Julie Kieras has you covered. She’ll show you how she created 6 “activity bags” to have at the ready when you need a few minutes to make a phone call, throw something in the oven, or tend to another child’s needs. LACING BEADS TO THE RESCUE!  Julie created some ready-made colored patterns on cardstock and put them in a bag with some lacing beads for an independent activity of replicating the printed patterns with real beads. Voila – a quiet, self-directed learning activity that can be pulled off the shelf at a moment’s notice. Learn how to make this activity bag (and 5 more) in her full post:6 Easy Activity Bags for Instant Entertainment and Learning.

BTW: Julie claims her Lacing Bead Pattern-Making Bag kept her son’s attention for a solid 30 minutes, and her Lacing Bead Play Dough Bag gave her at least another 30–40 more. Who couldn’t use more time on their hands while their child was busy LEARNING? Get the full scoop here.

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We hope you enjoyed these LACING & TRACING ideas!

At Melissa & Doug, we’re proud to help parents and teachers foster children’s creativity and concentration by putting activities in their hands that aren’t electronic. For more suggestions like these, see Blog Ambassador Zina Harrington’s post: “Foster Imagination with Battery-Free Toys” or check out our Battery-Free Pinterest board.

Do you have a favorite LACING or TRACING activity? Tell us about it in the comments below or on the Melissa & Doug Facebook page.


  1. Sue Peters says:

    Take used Chritmas cards or other colourful cards, hole punch around the card to use as a lacing activity. You can use wool or heavy string, tape the end with masking tape to make it easier to lace.