Tying Things Together – A Brilliant Book

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Boo’s Shoes: A Rabbit and Fox Story – Learn To Tie Shoelaces

As a teacher, I am always shocked to discover how many children get through life without knowing how to tie their own shoelaces. I am forever being asked to help them to tie them and I cannot believe they can get to eight years old and wear laced up shoes, without being able to do them up independently.

I have to admit that in recent years I have struggled to find useful resources that enable me to go through lace tying step-by-step, so having come across this incredible educational book, I am more than pleased to big it up. The book is called Boo’s Shoes: A Rabbit and Fox Story – Learn To Tie Shoelaces and stars two really cool characters, Boo the bunny and Farah Fox. Check out the colourful cover page below:


Boo’s Shoes is written by Sybrina Durant

Why is this book handy for parents?

Boo always wants shoes without laces and doesn’t have the confidence to learn to tie his shoes. His friend, Farah, convinces him that tying laces is an important life skill and will help him feel better about himself.

As well as telling a beautiful story, which can be read again and again, this book includes an instruction section, where the reader can learn step-by-step how to make a bunny ear bow with their laces. The thing that I love most about it is that it encourages parents and children to share a love of reading whilst also learning a valuable lesson.



So, tying things together, this wonderful children’s book is an educational treat. Boo’s story is part of a series of teaching books, including one about tying a tie and another about neck scarves. Sybrina’s book shop can be found at The Rabbit and the Fox Book Store and is full of brilliant stories, with animal characters who find fun ways to teach these important life skills.

Thank you for reading this shoe tying book post. I am keen for young people to develop their own independence through shared learning experiences. This book is a useful way for parents and children to work together and enjoy getting to grips with tying laces.

Reading Lessons – Top Tips

Reading matters. Us confident readers need to help others to engage with books.

Over twenty years I have taught in many different settings, to a wide range of learners, including adults and early readers. One of the things I have noticed is that some people get bogged down in reading certain amounts of text for set amounts of time. Although, with most things – the more you practise, the better you get -, with reading it depends how well you use that time. Here are some reading lessons worth integrating into book sessions.

For instance, asking a student to read a chapter from a complicated book by the following day is quite demanding. That student may well go away and mechanically read through those twenty pages and feel like they have achieved their goal. However, if that reading time was not engaging, then they will probably still have very little understanding of the text when writing about it the next day. This causes frustration which may lead to them losing interest in reading.

I am not going to spend time talking about phonics in this article. I will save that for another day. Instead, I want to give some general suggestions for teaching reading, which apply to children and adults who already know the alphabet and can segment or blend words. These tips are for comprehending texts and gaining strategies to interact with them usefully.

Ask the right questions

Let’s take a parent who really wants to encourage their child to read. Imagine that this parent is literate and regularly reads themselves. They may be under the impression that speed is of the essence. This misguided idea is common and some young people rattle through books at a rate of knots.

I am not criticising this approach but I have seen this many times. Often parents will say. ‘They have read every book on that level. Now can they move up to harder books?’ Of course, reading lots of books is not an indication of being a more competent reader.

A better approach would be to take a shorter piece of text and practise unpicking it. This applies to those learning to read English at any age. I’d suggest reading three paragraphs and interacting with the text more. Here are some ways to achieve this:

1) Find a word

You might get a student to examine a short extract and then challenge them to find a word that means something in particular. This game is basically using synonyms and helps with scanning techniques.

‘Find a word that means worried.’ As they look through the paragraphs, they then become more familiar with the overall text and eventually find the word anxious. Of course, this relies on word knowledge. I suggest after first reading a piece, to ask them which words are new to them and then discuss their meanings.

This could apply to phrases too. For instance –

‘Find a phrase that means ‘think very hard.’ The answer might be ‘rack my brains.’

2) Read between the lines

Retrieval of facts or details is really handy but comprehension is about understanding and contextualising what is read as well. Starting to get to grips with this is especially difficult. Therefore I would start with this kind of activity:

‘The sentence – ‘She slammed the door and stomped off’ – shows the mood that Jemma was in. What was that mood and how do you know?’

You may then follow that up with –

‘Now find a phrase that shows how Cam felt about moving house.’

We talk a lot about inference skills and these types of questions can stimulate our brains to become better at understanding what we just read.

Reading Rocks

Let people enjoy what they read. Never dismiss their texts as pointless.

My final thought for today is that reading needs to be fun. One of the most damaging things that I have seen over the years is people dismissing certain types of books or text as not valuable. ALL reading is valuable!

Even with the very best intentions, saying that a book is worthless is very unhelpful. If someone is enjoying a particular book or comic then let them read it. Show interest in their choice of reading material and try to engage with them about it. Instead of knocking it, perhaps merely suggest a wider range of texts. Try drawing them into something you enjoy reading and take a more collaborative approach.

Being told that their choice of book is wrong or invalid is only going to deter a reader from wanting to spend more time reading.

Thank you for taking the time to look at my post about reading. I welcome comments below the article and any feedback about if you would like more posts about this topic. I wrote a recent post about why reading is important too. Please follow my blog for similar posts about books, entertainment and climate change.

Remember What You Read (Studying Tips)

Throughout my career I have always worked in the field of education. From marking University essays to tutoring and moderation, I have done it all. This article will link my love of reading to my passion for learning. I thought it would be helpful to share some learning advice just before everyone gets back to studying.

Learning involves remembering what you have read.

So let’s begin by talking about making notes. When we study we read a lot of content, but unlike when reading a story, we usually are bombarded with a lot of facts that we have to try to remember. Stories come and go but learning needs to somehow stick.

Here are a few pieces of advice regarding learning to remember facts.

1) The devil is in the detail.

Yes, education requires a lot of factual recall. In the old days, you would write facts down hundreds of times until you remembered them, just as children rewrite their spellings multiple times before doing a weekly spelling test. The trouble with repetition is that after a while you move on to repeating new facts by rote and these ones take over from the previous ones. Kids often learn spellings for a test and then not use those words again for a while and so forget how to spell them again.

What am I saying here? Don’t try to learn every single detail. Learn and remember the facts that are most important. Then find ways to link these ‘super facts’ to smaller snippets of information or reference points. For instance, when learning about water transference in cells, by all means commit to memory the term ‘osmosis’. Then learn an associated example or reference point.

Some facts take a while to get rooted in your memory.

Remember ‘Osmosis’.

Related info – tree roots transfer water into their roots because the roots have a lower concentration of water molecules than the soil.

2) Technology can’t remember things for you.

We all depend on technology and I am no exception to this. I feel like my arm is detached if ever I cannot find where I left my phone. However, past experience has taught me that notes on paper and in notebooks can be so much more accessible than typed information stored on a laptop or iPad.

That tried and tested method of making maps of facts with connecting arrows is still a very efficient way to make sense of a subject. If my topic was glacial geomorphology (the study of glaciers and how they alter the landscape) I may have a map (formerly know as a mind map) with bubbles for key terms and lots of bullet point lists scattered around under headings. I could wake up in the morning and revise a series of facts before I’ve even had my breakfast, merely by consulting a wall map.

3) Annotation

Highlighter pens and post-it notes are still relevant.

Just like when an author edits their story, making notes across your work is very useful. Coloured pens and highlighters got me prepared for many an exam over the years and certainly have their place in the learning process.

Having a system where you know how to find vital revision facts or case studies is useful. Perhaps you could use green post-it’s for pages linked to key topic overviews and orange for pages with diagrams on and maybe red for hot topics or examples that stand out for you.

4) Little and often.

Revision can consume you so it is important that as you start to learn a subject you give yourself reference points as you go along. Also, throughout the year, return to different subjects regularly, especially those which do not stuck in your memory so easily. With me, learning geography, I always found facts about rivers easy to recall but anything to do with soils always went straight over my head. Therefore I would have to keep recapping details related to soils on a regular basis.

Trying to list key terms or five examples of something or other was my way of revisiting a topic and trying to keep it fresh. For example, I might list soil composition types. Lists and mini self-tests are tried and tested methods for keeping information locked in.

5) Practise test skills

Just like in school, it is important to keep the skills you need to answer questions under pressure up to date. Sometimes timing yourself to write an essay can help you to focus on a subject and keep you fresh. By fresh I mean used to writing answers against the clock. If you do not train your mind to apply this very specific way of doing things then you may find yourself stuck in a real exam. Practise makes perfect, so making opportunities to rehearse unpicking a question and formulating an answer in a given time is really good.

I find that rehearsing the process really helps when it comes to revision generally as it removes distraction and room for finding other things to do. When I set aside 30 minutes and challenge myself to practise the steps of sequencing my answer on paper, I also find areas I am remembering effectively and can then work out where my gaps in subject knowledge lie and build my revision around these.

If you enjoyed this article please drop a comment below. I will write more tips for students in the future as it all links in with my reading theme. Please consider following my blog and helping me to grow.