If you've not seen these before, they're basically a picture printed on heavy card stock with holes punched in it. The idea is for the little one to lace a shoelace or similar string through the holes, practicing fine motor skills. You could definitely make these yourself very cheaply, but the set was only $3.99 and I kind of knew I was never going to get around to making my own. This has been on my to-do list for a while, so I was pretty excited to see them at the store.
I showed the Eskimo what they were for and let him at it, trying to give as little guidance as possible. By the way, the whole process made me twitch. I wanted so badly to reach in there and "help" him by doing it for him. Incidentally, this would not actually be helping him. Doing it for him robs him of the experience of figuring it out. So, I modeled the behavior and then gave minimal verbal instructions for his first couple attempts. Then, I sat back and watched. Yes, he laced! No, he did not do it perfectly or sequentially. But that wasn't really the point of his first attempt. The point was for him to learn a new skill and work on his fine motor skills. And one day, when he can sew his own button on his shirt, he'll thank me (okay, he probably won't actually thank me, but he should!).
Look at that concentration:
I'm not going to lie, the Eskimo also tried to turn this into a fatal weapon. He was swinging that zebra card all over the place. He was also whipping the extra shoelace around until one end hit him in the face. Natural consequences, eh? I did warn him it was going to happen, but some things you really have to learn on your own. So, the Eskimo's lessons for the night: basic lacing skills, and plastic-tipped shoelaces sting when they whack you in the face. My work here is done.