I’m always trying to dream up easy-to-make DIY toys that are fun, educational, and affordable. Frame Lacers are a colorful DIY toy that double as a great fine motor skills activity for kids. The bonus is I was able to make them in about 30 minutes for roughly $4 each.
Fine Motor Skills Activity: Frame Lacers
Make the Lacers:
- Unfinished Wood Frames (no glass) If you buy them in bulk you can get them for $1 each! TIP: Pick these up at Michaels individually – also for $1 each.
- Shoe Laces– These colors are beautiful!
- Drill & 3/16” Drill Bit
- Sand Paper
- Step One Remove the metal tabs in the center of the frame with pliers.
- Step Two Mark equidistant holes around your frame. Start in the corners and then mark equally spaced holes in between. Our frame had a hole at the center of the back so I tried to avoid that. When using a wide frame mark two sets of holes. I suggest a minimum of 3/4” apart.
- Step Three Drill your holes using a larger bit. I used a 3/16″ bit.
- Step Four Sand it!* Sand both sids of the frame and the edges of the holes to prevent against splinters. Since this is made from an inexpensive piece of wood you will probably encounter a bit of splintering around the holes. Roll up a piece of sandpaper and push it through each hole to smooth out the hole interior.
- Step Five Select the laces you are using for each frame. Tie a knot in one end of one lace and feed it through a corner hole from the back. Repeat with additional laces in each corner.
*Sanding tips: Start with a rough grit, 100, for a first sand, and then switch to a finer grit, 150+ for a final sand. I used a sanding block, which is always great when sanding flat surfaces. I didn’t get too crazy with the sanding; that’s probably why I never did so well in my art school shop classes, I just don’t have much patience for fine finishing work!
You’re done! You may want to start a lace or two before handing it off to your child. I think a prompt of how to use something goes a long way.
- Fine Motor Skills Activity: Use these as a fine motor activity. I suggest starting a lace or two as a prompt and then quickly handing it off to your child. Here is what my children did with theirs.
- Set this up like a loom: Weave a long shoelace in one direction across the frame, then weave the other shoelaces through it like a mini loom!
- Decorate it! Continue to use this as a photo frame with the laces decorating the edges of the frame. When the design is complete, tie off the end of the lace, trim it and use a dab of glue on the end to hold the laces in place and prevent the end from unraveling. This would be a fun holiday present kids can make for family members.
- Paint the frame: For an extra color punch paint that frame! Simply prime and paint it with your favorite color!
Gunta Stolzl. Gunta Stolzl was the director of the weaving department of the Bauhaus from 1926-31. She was the only female master at the Bauhaus and elevated weaving from crafty “women’s” work to high design. Her tapestries are full of color and patterns that still look modern today. These lacing frames brought to mind the vivid interaction of color that happens through weaving and lacing projects.
So was that a better use for laces than on shoes?
Shoelaces make the best “thread” for little hands because they have a built in “needle” and are nice and chunky to hold. Lacing toys are a wonderful fine motor skills activity and are a great way to introduce the concept of patterns to kids. Endless weaving and lacing variations can be created from them; make one for your budding textile designer today!
Another Fine Motor Skills Activity to Try:
More DIY Toys to make:
Fill your child’s life with more art, design, science, and engineering!
Subscribe and get our projects delivered straight to your inbox.