Learning to cut is a process, just like learning to walk, and you can help children develop and strengthen their fine motor skills by planning scissor activities of varying complexity.
When teaching children to cut, first demonstrate how to hold scissors. Show the child how to place your thumb in the upper hole, and your first two fingers (index and middle) in the lower hole. Have the child practice picking up and holding the scissors. After the children have mastered picking up the scissors, teach them how to “snip.” Prepare strips of construction paper in different colors not wider than 1". Encourage the child to hold the scissors in their dominant hand and the piece of paper in their subdominant hand. Demonstrate how to snip the paper with one cut. Provide a tray so that the snippings are contained. Some children like to take their snippings home, which emphasizes the importance of learning the process, not the beauty of a finished product. To encourage the children to practice snipping, change the type and texture of the paper strips. Children will develop fine motor skills at different rates, so it is important to teach individual children the skill that matches their development. The following cutting skills are arranged in order from simplest to most complex.
1. Cutting Lines. Provide construction paper, 1" wide, with preprinted vertical, horizontal, or diagonal dotted lines. You’ll also want to give each child a tray to catch their cuttings and a baggie/envelope.
Write the child’s name on the front of the baggie or envelope, put his or her cuttings inside, and send the envelope home with the child. Once the child is successful cutting one line, add two preprinted lines, an X, or one curved line on 1" wide paper.
2. Cutting on Extended Lines. Using strips of construction paper, 4" to 8" in length, add curved,crooked, jagged, or wiggly lines. Extend the activity by connecting two or more cuttings to make crowns, belts, necklaces, or fences.
3. Cutting Shapes. Prepare a tray with preschool scissors and 4" to 5" squares of colored paper, each preprinted with one of the following shapes: Square, circle, or triangle. Invite the children to cut out the various shapes.
4. Cutting Spirals. The most difficult skill for children to master is cutting circular, triangular, and square spirals that have been preprinted on squares of construction paper. Have the children cut the spirals and hang them from the ceiling, window, or doorframes to decorate your classroom.
Sammy Scissors Says, “Here are Some Safety Rules to Remember When Using Scissors!”
Scissors are sharp.
Caution should be taken when using scissors.
Instruct children not to run with scissors.
Store scissors so sharp edges are not exposed.
Safely hand over scissors. Wrap hand around closed blades, handle up.
Organize supplies to keep scissors out of children’s reach.
Review safety guidelines each time scissors are used.
Scissors are a tool, not a toy.
Adult supervision is always required when using scissors.
Follow age recommendations – the right scissors for the right age.
Exercise good judgment when using scissors.
Tables are the best place to use scissors, with hands in plain view.
Youth specific tools are great for building self-esteem.