Putting our school shoes to the test + 5 sidewalk chalk games that get kids moving.

Jan 14, 2014

This is a sponsored post.

My little girl is starting school this year! It is only a matter of weeks before she straps up her velcro, slings her gigantic bag over her shoulder and begins her career as a school kid. It's a very exciting and nerve-wraking time, and I'm not just talking about for her. I am busy labelling every single thing that might leave this house, getting together all the lunch box supplies and generally trying to get everything organised so that we're ready to roll on that first day. 

A very important part, for us, was getting really good school shoes. After all, they are in them all the time and as a teacher myself, I've seen how hard kids put their shoes to the test. 
Whilst the school we've chosen is quite relaxed on the choice of black school shoes or runners, my little girl has been looking forward to her own pair of "proper girl school shoes." I liked the idea of how nice they looked with the school uniform and for more formal occasions like school pics etc. but, I thought about how much running she was bound to be doing each day, so was leaning towards running shoes instead. 

When we were offered the opportunity to try The Athlete Foot's, Ascent range of school shoes, I jumped at the chance because they seemed to encompass the best of both worlds. Labelled, "Sports Shoes in Disguise" because they're built on Running Shoe Technology and being the only school shoes to be endorsed by the Australasian Podiatry Council (APodC) they sounded like the school shoes for us. I was certainly keen to find out.

The Fitting

I'd read of the importance of getting a professional fitting and there's no way I would have had the confidence to fit them myself. The amount of shoes that I've bought Maddie, based on her "shoe size," that have ended up hurting when she walked or not fitting right, is too many to count. I've also been through enough "cheap" shoes to know that for school shoes she was going to be in 5 days a week for hours on end, I was going to have to invest in a "good" pair. I was keen to get her fitted up properly and I was very glad I did. The sizing she ended up with was completely different than what she'd been sized as at the start of Summer.

The staff at The Athlete's Foot were really good with her and it was great to see that instead of just measuring the length of her foot, she was also measured for the width and had her balance and how she walked examined. I felt confident we were going to get a good fit.

She loved trying on the different shoes in the range and walking around the store testing them out.

And she was delighted with her chosen pair!

Putting them to the test

As with most new shoes, she wanted to wear them right away. The weather wasn't great outside so she spent the rest of the day wearing them around the house. The next day was great outside weather and she wanted to dress up like a school girl and go outside and play. The perfect chance to do all the things you can't really do inside a shop, like hopping, skipping, running and jumping. She certainly did them all.

She had a wonderful time and the shoes were great. No rubbing, no discomfort, no slipping around, no clunkiness. She didn't seem limited by them in any way and she said they made her "want to run." She has insisted on wearing them out now on a number of occasions (even when they don't go with her outfit at all) and I am really glad that we have them. I feel confident that they are going to be great at school. Now the next test will be to see how long they last... I have high hopes that so long as she doesn't have a major foot growth over the year (they allowed a good amount of room for growth in the fitting), they should last us a decent amount of time. :)

5 Sidewalk Chalk games that get kids moving.

One of the things that Maddie requested doing when we were playing in the front yard was for me to draw her a game of Hopscotch. She must have seen it being played on tv or in books by "school kids" so wanted to play it too in her new school shoes. She enjoyed playing it and it was a great way to encourage her to get moving, using only the concrete and some chalk. I decided I should find some more great games using the same materials so that we could mix it up a bit. Here they are.

1. Hopscotch (there are different variations around. This is how we play)
  • Draw 10 numbered boxes as shown. Single boxes are for hopping on one foot and the double boxes are jumped in with one foot in each.
  • Player throws a stone or stick into the first box. It must land in the box without touching the edges.
  • Player jumps or hops over the box with the stick/stone and hops and jumps up to the top.
  • Player turns on one foot at the top and hop/jumps back the same way until they reach the box before the one with the stick. 
  • Player must stop in that box and pick up the stick while still balancing. They then continue to the end.
  • Repeat with each number.
  • If players miss the correct numbered box or hop/jump on the lines, they must start again or let someone else have their turn. (Depending on whether you're playing solo or with friends)

2. Outdoor Alphabet Track by I Can Teach My Child

3. Human Board Game by True Aim Education

4. Sight Word Twister by A Mom with a Lesson Plan

5. Colour Jump Maze by Little Hands, Big Work

All of the games look like great fun. We can't wait to give them a go. Not only are they great for gross motor but they are all educational too! Shhhh, we won't tell if you don't.

Giveaway * Please note this giveaway has now ended.

Thanks to the good people at Ascent Shoes, we have 1 pair of Ascent school shoes to giveaway to one of our Australian readers, valued at up to $139.95.

Ascent School Shoes are "Sports Shoes in Disguise" and are exclusive to the Athletes Foot. Some models even come with a 6 month outsole warranty which is great if you have a child who wears hard on the soles. You can find out more details about range of Ascent school shoes on the Ascent Footwear 'School Shoe' webpage and the Ascent Footwear Facebook page.

How to enter. Answer the following question in the comment section below.

What does your back to school routine look like? Do school shoes feature?

Terms and Conditions:
- Australian entries only
- Entries close 5:00 pm AEDST on Tuesday 21 January 2014
- See full terms and conditions here
- Please leave an email address so that we can contact you if your comment is chosen (especially if you post under anonymous) 

****Congratulations to our winner, Kate Young****
Please contact us to claim your prize.

If you win, don't forget to pop into the Athlete's foot for a professional fitting to make sure that you choose the perfect fit and size for your child. We're glad we did.

Happy playing, 
Debs :)

{Disclosure: this is a paid post for Ascent shoes sponsored by Nuffnang. We received a pair of school shoes to review. As always, opinions expressed in this post are my own and my children's.}

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  1. I don't have a school aged child but just wanted to say how great it is you highlighting the importance of fitting shoes correctly for our kids. These shoes look fabulous for kids on the go. Love the outdoor chalk games too.

  2. M must be so excited about starting school. She certainly looks like she is loving her new shoes.

  3. I have 2 at school, 1 to go, and all have orthotics so the right podiatrist-approved shoes are paramount!! I usually leave the shoes until just before school goes back to allow that summer growth spurt to tail off. Books and covering comes just after Christmas... lunch box ideas... yes please?!

  4. This year my older two children will be at school. This is now my third year of buying school shoes and we have purchased them at Athlete's Foot every year (I was just there last week having my children fitted by the excellent staff. My son who is starting school was also very excited about his first ever set of school shoes). As far as the back to school routine goes, I purchased the uniforms for my son and daughter in December as well as their books (our school offers an option where you can collect the bundle of books mid January). We have the school shoes. Now I need to order the book covers (online) and organise some new lunch boxes and drink bottles. Then there is the labelling (oh the labelling, that reminds me, I need some more of those for the school uniforms too). I also want to print off some lunch notes for my children. Most importantly, I need to make sure my camera batteries are charged for the big day! Elise @ Creative Play central

  5. With five children aged from 2 to 14, our back to school (kinder and daycare) routine starts the year before! I start by making sure I keep track of all incoming notices from the school about the following year. I use Evernote to do this so that I have them all accessible wherever I am and I can even search within the text of notices to find what I need.

    From all the notices, uniform lists and books lists, I create a master list of what everyone needs and start shopping for some items in the second half of the year before so that I can get some on sale.

    However, for items that they can grow out of (like shoes), I usually shop the week before school. I try to just take one or two kids at a time so that I can concentrate on getting the proper fit, rather than being stressed by the other kids getting bored.

    On the first day, they are loaded up with their new stuff, lunch packed, uniforms and shoes on and then time for a quick "First Day" photo!

    It's a busy time of year, but it is also wonderful to see the excitement that goes with the start of another school year!


    1. Hi Kate, we've tried to get in touch with you but haven't heard back yet. Unfortunately, if we haven't heard from you in the next 24 hours, the prize will have to go to the next person on our list. Please email asap to learnwithplayathome@gmail.com. Cheers, Debs :)

  6. This year my last baby is starting school so the routine has been getting his uniform ready and labelled, lunch boxes, drink bottles, backpacks and hats ready, and of course, making sure they all have a good quality decent pair of school shoes that will hopefully last the year.

  7. Shoe fitting is so rare these days! I am really pleased to see that there is still a shoe store that provides this service. It is so important for kids growth and development to wear the right fitting shoe :)

  8. I have been stressing about what shoe to get my son, who starts school this year, yikes! We've never gotten a "good" pair of shoes... but then again, we go barefoot most of the day which will change when he's at school. I'd really love to get some good quality comfortable shoes for him, so thanks for sharing about Ascent, they look great.

    Our getting ready for school routine has been a lot like yours! Got his backpack, lunchbox, starting to label things and make a list of lunches he will like. And taking lots of deep breaths and remembering it will all be okay :-)

  9. I had to get new shoes for both of my boys towards the end of last year, as their feet just grow so fast, so am off the hook for shoes for school prep - no doubt after the summer growth spurt though I'll be back again in the very near future! Love Ascent, my eldest has problems with pronating and achilles pain, so needs a strong shoe with a rigid heel and my podiatrist friend put me onto Ascent a few years back

    1. email addy is lettuce71@hotmail.com

  10. With my youngest starting school this year, miss 6 starting year 1 and my second eldest her HCS the back to school routine will be essential. Last year I made a mistake and bought $30 leather school shoes in Target for my daughter and I was in shock that by the end of term 1 they were completely worn out with holes on the bottom. I bought her another pair from another store and they are worn in uneven. All my children have 'flat' feet and I will need to make The Athletes Foot part of my back to school routine.

  11. I need to get organised with our back to school prep as Miss4 will be starting Kindy and Miss6 going into Year 1 - your blog has prompted me to get prepared!

  12. We usually buy the stationary supplies throughout the year when they are on special so we don't need to go rushing out for bits and pieces. My youngest picks a new lunch box each year. I found having him pick it means he's less likely to lose it! For shoes and uniform we usually wait until the week before they go back to school. I've been caught out too many times with my boys who decide that January is the perfect time for a growth spurt!
    mum5boyz @ hotmail.com

  13. The 1st week of January is review time!
    Displaying school items to ensure we save EVERY dime!
    A pencil and paper for each tyke,
    Writing their school list is what they really like!
    A “school uniform” fashion parade from top to toe!
    Then mummy (me) has a list, judges and enjoys watching the show!
    Easy way to decide what does and doesn’t fit!
    If hats and socks are missing mummy has a FIT!
    The second week of January is when all the catalogue specials are received in the mail,
    We circle and price to ensure that our “ONE” stop shop motto does not FAIL!
    Office Works! School Uniform Shop! Shoes and Sox! we cautiously spend!
    “Organisation” our growing family of seven does depend!

  14. We only have 20 mins to get ready in the morning so it's rush rush rush with no time to spare for anything other than toilet, food, teeth, clothes and shoes! Done with military precision every morning!

  15. Our Back to School routine involves a mix of clothes washing, clock watching,
    and crossing fingers!

    Uniform at the ready, getting him to bed earlier in readiness for the school hours, then crossing all our fingers and toes he will be well enough to go.

    The words 'Back to School' really mean a lot to us,
    my son's chronic immunity problems have caused him to miss a huge amount of school, plus his feet fall in badly,
    which we discovered is causing leg pains,
    making him hesitant about returning;
    sooo...to approach this coming year with less fear,
    he needs something comfortable and light but supportive too,
    that will encourage him to go to school,
    that's a lot to ask of a school shoe,
    but I am sure that Ascent CAN DO!

  16. Maddie is so cute! Back to school for us means back to preschool - but shoes still count! JJ has a narrow heel, so I'm on the lookout for a new pair of "big girl preschool shoes" that will fit snugly around her heel so she can feel confident playing, climbing, jumping, running and hopping. (She can't quite skip yet, but hopefully we can add that to the list soon too!).

  17. My Back to School Routine every year includes a YIPEE!
    No more boring kiddies.
    Kids soon in school in freshly pressed uniform,
    new shoes and water bottles too.
    Eager to see their friends
    and meet the Teacher again

  18. School shoes always feature in the back to school routine. They grow out of them so fast but it's important to get a great pair. Other than getting great shoes we also celebrate going back to school by counting down. I think it's important for children to love to love school and so a countdown is a lovely way to do this. One day we'll cover the books as fun craft the next, go through all the lovely classroom books and stationary and then we write goals for the year that she's going into to. School is so much fun!

  19. This is the first time for me to be the school mum so it is all new. I also took my daughter to Athletes Foot for her first shoe fitting and I am so glad I did. I am pretty confidant that she loves her new shoes and they will be comfy. Now just to sort out the lunch time gear and school uniform!

  20. swimming lessons at nanna's with a compulsory trip to the shoe shop for new school shoes and sneakers and maybe sandals if we can convince mum
    louise taylormadecakes@hotmail.com

  21. I try to minimize the expense of back to school costs by giving school bags, stationary and accessories to the kids for Christmas. Clothing and shoes is mainly what I am left to buy when the new year begins.
    Having a tight budget means I wait for the best sales, scouring catalogues and stores for the best buy. It time consuming and can be quite a headache but it is necessary in order to financially survive.

  22. We are homeschoolers so our back to school routine is a little different! However, school shoes are always helpful!

  23. I'm no longer in school, but hopefully when I start teaching, it'll be a really exciting time for me! I remember always being so excited as a kid when it was time for back to school.

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. My daughter is just about to start school too! And apart from sorting uniform and lunchboxes, I can tell that a yearly trip to get school shoes fitted will be part of the summer holiday tradition! These shoes just look perfect for a busy, active Kindy kid :)

  26. Love the sidewalk chalk games! We have a little one going to big school for the first time so it's all a new routine for us. Shoes are sooo important and I have 'bad' feet myself that I don't want my kids to end up with by spending their childhood in ill-fitting cheap shoes, so we're going for the proper fitted 'good' shoes too.

  27. Doing the 'wiggle toe poke check' to see if shoes can last a few months into the new year, and then blowing the budget buying new underwear, stationery and lunchboxes anyway! Okay, it's true, I buy double the stationery and keep a lot for myself!

  28. A last minute rush as returning to school always seems to sneak up on me. Comfy, well fitting shoes are a must - for me that is!

  29. This is my first year sending my first child to school. So, routine? I do not have, Shoes, umm I also still do not have. I am freaking out because i have 10 days and no shoes, no uniform, holy snapping ducks, what am I going to make him for lunch? Should I be learning to cook quiche? Bed-time routine? Should he have one? Routine. (breathe) Routine... ummm yes , I'm working on one, and ummm... yes, shoes will feature, they will... tell me I'll get through this????


  30. Not much routine in my house but we always get to school on time.
    my son went through 4 pairs of shoes last year so some good school shoes would be fantastic.

  31. "sports shoes in disguise" sounds perfect for my little guy. He loathes wearing shoes so school shoes will be a big adjustment for him. At least with a pair of Ascent shoes he would get something with a perfect fit, they'd be comfortable and he'd actually want to wear them. Our back to school routine is pretty relaxed at the moment! This is my son's first year at school and we have all of the essentials bought, and now it's all about relaxing so he's calm and happy on the big day!

  32. Like some of the other ladies here, this is my daughters first year of school! So i haven't tried out the routine yet! I am however organised, that should work in my favour.

  33. Our back to school routine involves a whole lot of denial on my part! Eeek... not long to go now... must get those brand new school uniforms out of their packaging. That would be a start, eh? xo P

  34. Our school routine looks and sounds like chaos. I've tried to be organised every year and every year my children foil me. Do school shoes feature? Of course they do! They get lost, every morning, both pairs vanish into thin air only to reappear as we already become late for school!

  35. I am still developing my routine as my oldest starts prep this year. So just hoping I get it right and am totally organised for the big day.It's bringing a tear to my eye just thinking about it. But today is book covering day (god please help me remember how it's done!) Lunch box, uniform and shoes are ready to go. I have bought shoes that still have a little room for growth so am just hoping they will be comfortable for my active little boy.

  36. my routine starts with the most important shoes and school uniform. Making sure I get in early for the sizes I need before they are all sold out everywhere is a must as I learnt the hard way a few years back when I couldn't find any uniforms in the sizes I needed.
    followed by all the other school necessities, Bag, lunch box, pencil cases etc. I let the kids help choose with these. I usually have everything sorted 2 weeks before school starts.

  37. My back to school preparations began with getting list of requirements from school.

    I bought Mr 5’s school uniform at the onsite uniform shop, when we visited the school for Kindy orientation.

    Next to do was buying 2 pairs of school shoes, one for every day and one for sport. We needed shoes that meet uniform requirements, while being comfortable, easy to put on (Velcro), were supportive (we got a professional fitting to ensure this) and shoes that my son can easily sit down on the floor in and also feel comfortable running around in. I just got him to try the shoes on again to ensure they still fit, kids can grow fast!

    Over Christmas we bought stationary and a lunch box big enough to fit enough food in. I’m pretty much done labelling school items. I’ve also applied for a day’s leave from work – to be able to drop him and pick him up from school on his first day, and join other parents for ‘tea and tissues’ as our kids begin big school.

    Next to do, is to re-read my orientation booklet to find out what time school starts, where the Kindy classroom is, where to drop and pick up. The night before school commences, I’ll be laying all Mr 5’s clothes and shoes out ready to wear and making school lunches and snacks – so nothing is missed and stress is minimised, on our very first day of Big School. :o)

  38. My back to school routine is to start early and slowly tick off the list the things I need to buy and prepare.

  39. Our back to school routine is making the most of every last minute of the holidays and doing lots of family projects and outings together!

  40. I have already started my back to school routine ensuring new uniforms, shoes and school supplies are purchased. Next week I put all stationery in school bags, ensuring it is labelled clearly and the night before first day, lay out new uniforms and shoes :D

  41. Back to school is done and dusted! all bar the shoes that is they get left until the week before school starts to ensure a perfect fit and time to be "broken in"

  42. My back to school routine this year consists of getting one child ready for high school (new uniforms, textbook hire, book pack, new school bag) and one child entering Year 4 (book list, one new uniform, new lunch bag). I have opted for slip on covers this year...so easy!
    Just need to do a big baking/freezing session of school lunchbox treats.

    School shoes most definitely feature as I always buy the girls new good quality shoes each year.

  43. New school shoes are a very important part of getting 'school ready!' I let my kids wear their new shoes in several days before school starts, therefore addressing any problems that may come into light ( good fitting shoes usually don't cause discomfort but too thick/thin socks are usually the problem.)


  44. We are enjoying AUSTRALIAN OPEN these days,
    & our kids are going back to school in few days.
    We are preparing for back to school THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN way,
    aim is to OVERPOWER stress ,have THE ADVANTAGE & be WINNERS.
    COVER YOUR GROUND - make lists & shop now for back to school,
    Take the ADVANTAGE - of all the back to school sales to be cool.
    PRACTICE & PRACTICE - maintain a back to school routine,
    TRY YOUR BEST SHOTS - cook & choose their favourite recipes.
    BEAT THE MELBOURNE HEAT - with hats, water bottle & sunscreen,
    PERFECT FITTED SHOES - as feet stay in them for 7 hours.
    LOTS OF CHEERS from the spectators on the first day of school,
    Remember to have photos of the winners on the final day.

  45. They're all so pretty! Great activities for kids. These days, most would just keep them occupied...and quiet playing games on their ipads
    fun Activities for Kids


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