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scissor practice for preschoolers: fine motor fun!

May 18, 2011 // 25 comments // Categories: Uncategorized.

For many kids, scissors are not easy tools.

But with the right structure and a little support from parents and teachers, before long kids will get the hang of it and will be ready for cutting big-leagues.

Children have to be taught how to hold a pair of scissors (thumb of strong hand in small hole of child-safe scissors) and two or three fingers (depending on size of hand) in the larger hole. Just like the tripod grip that has to be modeled and practiced, the same is true for scissor work.

There’s a ton coordination required in the simple act of cutting a piece of paper; it takes work. Pure and simple, cutting requires a lot of practice. It requires a lot of reminding about the correct way to hold a pair of scissors and a lot of patience on the part of mom (or teacher) and kids.

So one of the activities I like to throw in every so often is something involving a little old-fashioned scissor practice. What I’ve found is that my tiniest loves cutting and often will cut anything in front of her–wrapping paper, ribbons, scraps of paper, Barbie hair (ugh), you name it.

  • Scissor PracticeHere’s how we have a little scissor fun. . .

1. Card Cutting: For a long, long time, I’ve kept a box of cards in our craft room for Maddy, Owen, and Cora to use for anything they’d like–crafts, coloring, or cutting.  These are cards from anything and everything, from birthdays to holidays to thank you’s, and they’re free game for the kids.  Some days, I’ll grab a few cards for Owen and Cora during homework time, and I’ll circle the items I want them to cut; other days, I’ll just ask them to free cut.

2. Ribbon Cutting: Ribbons are harder to cut, but kids love to cut them because they feel like they’re cutting something they shouldn’t. I have a huge bag of ribbon scraps, bows, curling ribbon, and the like, and some days I’ll throw some on a tray for Cora to cut. She loves it.

3. Confetti Cutting: If we have a ton of construction paper scraps around the house, I’ll ask the kids to make confetti.  We love confetti over here–to throw in a birthday card, to throw on the table for a party, to throw in the air on a happy day.

If I want to really give Owen and Cora a challenge, I’ll give them an egg carton and have them fill the compartments with separate colors or a combination of colors.

Cora loves to cut confetti and then either decorate an egg carton or hid pieces inside.


4. Scrap Cutting: Anything goes with scrap cutting–which is why it totally rocks. Have a huge bin of scraps like we do? Pull it out for scissor work.  Creating flash cards or activity cards for your classroom or kids? Put the scraps in a bag and drag them out at homework time.  Scraps can be anything: felt, material, aluminum foil, wax paper, paper plates, napkins.  It doesn’t matter, and sometimes it’s fun for kids just to mix it up a bit.


Want a little more focused cutting fun? Consider:

  • Having a ‘who can cut the tiniest square/triangle/ heart’ contest;
  • Gluing tiny pieces of confetti on shapes (you can download these shape cards);
  • Creating confetti letters by gluing confetti along letters of child’s name written on paper;
  • Cutting out all of the dogs/ people/ trees/ flowers from your card cutting box;
  • Making a goal of filling yogurt cups/ sandwich bags/ plastic bowls with confetti;
  • Using stencils to trace shapes on cards and cut along the shapes;
  • Trying Number Boxes–but instead of sticking stickers, stick pieces that a child cuts;
  • Get crazy and make Color Boxes (same thing as Number Boxes but with colors) and have kiddos cut certain colors from cards to glue in the appropriate Color Box;
  • Rainy Day/ Sunny Day Confetti–cut blues, greys, and whites for Rainy Day Confetti and yellows, oranges, and pinks for Sunny Day Confetti and spruce up the next rainy or sunny day!

And that’s it for now–any other fun ways of practicing scissor work with kiddos? Link up and share your ideas!

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Comment (25) | Leave a comment

  1. I love scissor practice! And even though I know I should do it, I don’t. I forget such a simple thing. Maybe if I pass this on, I’ll remember :)

    • Rachele–
      There’s so much I don’t do, either–no worries. I totally forgot about puzzles with my oldest until she was like well over 2.

  2. my favorite way is using old scissors with playdough “snakes” and cut them to bits… it’s an occupational therapy trick ;)

    • Cutting PLAYDOUGH!!?? Totally not in my radar, Leslie! Thank you!! I’ll store this one, for sure–

  3. I work with toddlers and preschoolers, and the moms are often surprised when I put out scissors for 2 year olds (these: ). To help them get the hang of opening and closing, I show them how the scissors look like a bird, with two eyes and a beak. I tell them “Open the bird’s mouth so they can eat the paper!”

    In addition, I cut strips of paper (1″ or narrower) in advance, so a single cut is a success for those little hands.

    • Great idea to compare a pair of scissors to a bird–super! And setting little guys up for success with smaller paper–awesome idea!

  4. I also love this countdown chain for teaching scissor skills!

  5. Cutting plastic straws is fun, too. The fly everywhere, but that’s part of the fun! You can use the pieces to string on yarn when you’re done.

    • OH YES!!! Totally forgot about straws, Amy!! Thank you, thank you!! Double the fun factor with stringing the pieces! YES!!

  6. My son LOVES to cut. The playdough thing is new to me too…he’ll love that!

    • I know, right? Glad to know I’m not the only newbie to play-dough cutting!! :)

  7. These are fun ideas to get in scissor practice, thanks! It takes a long time for my son so he ends up just having his older sister do it for him. We will have to pull out some of these ideas while she is at school!

    • thanks so much, Camille! I agree–that does happen sometimes with my kids, too, but when the bigger kiddos aren’t around, the little ones have to do it on their own!

  8. I love the playdough idea! One of my twins has some fine motor issues, and scissors are very difficult for her. We try to practice as “fun” as much as possible, since she doesn’t enjoy it.

    • Gina, I love it too! Hopefully there’s something here that may help your little one–good luck!

  9. What great ideas form everyone. We like making these simple lanterns:

  10. These are terrific and I’m an OT w/ 13 yrs of experience! Always good to get new ideas!

    • Thank you SO much, Dawn!! Means so much that you–an expert–have taken the time to read this blog and share your feedback. Totally appreciated, my friend–you rock!!


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