Welcome to your ultimate guide to teaching scissor cutting in preschool. We have included the stages of scissor cutting, the skills developed, and ideas and tips to make teaching scissor cutting a smooth process. Plus lots of ideas for fun scissor cutting practice!
With this guide, you will come away feeling confident and prepared to teach your preschoolers all the steps to become proficient and confident with scissors. It’s one of the best way to develop fine motor skills!
What You Need to Know About Teaching Scissor Cutting to Preschoolers
Learning how to use scissors is a life skill that takes time, patience, and practice.
Scissor cutting requires an incredible amount of skill for a preschooler, which can lead to frustration for a child who wants to cut but is still learning. Cutting with scissors requires a lot of coordination. More specifically, it takes bilateral coordination, which is the ability to use both sides of the body at the same time to do two different things.
Why Do Preschoolers Need to Learn Scissor Cutting Skills?
Well, first, because it is an important life skill. That was an easy one.
Scissor cutting also requires bilateral coordination – both sides of the body have to work together simultaneously. There are lots of other life skills that require bilateral coordination, such as:
- opening a box or an envelope
- buttoning clothes or tying shoes
- putting a straw in a juice box
- scratching the opposite arm
- peeling an orange or a banana
- clapping hands
- writing or drawing
The Benefits of Scissor Cutting in Preschool
Did you know that the act of using scissors is all about learning how to move each finger independently? Through the use of scissors, the child learns to move the thumb, index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers one at a time. Plus, using scissors increases the chances of having neat and legible handwriting. After all, cutting and writing use the same skills, so this makes total sense.
We know that preschoolers need to learn scissor cutting to improve everyday life skills. But how do these skills translate into daily life?
Using scissors builds:
- Hand strength – opening and closing scissors help to build and strengthen the small muscles in the hands. These small muscles are used in daily activities such as coloring, eating, brushing teeth, and putting on shoes.
- Hand-eye coordination – children must pay close attention as they use scissors, and rely on their eyes to decide where they should move or cut next. Playing sports, catching and throwing a ball, and playing an instrument are all tasks that require good hand-eye coordination.
- Attention and focus – using scissors to cut along lines demands concentration and precision. Cutting with scissors helps keep the brain on task. Increased opportunities to focus help children to listen and learn, read books, and complete prolonged tasks.
Related Fine Motor Activities
How to Teach Preschoolers to Cut with Scissors
These scissor cutting stages help prepare your preschoolers to cut with scissors no matter the ability level they are currently at. It’s important to start slow and at their level to ensure that hands don’t become too fatigued to properly hold the scissor or frustration starts to set in.
Scissor Skill Activities
Before you hand over the scissors, it’s important to practice some similar movement-type activities to help master the grasp-release (open-close) motion of the hand. Consider using spray bottles, jumbo tweezers, droppers, clothespins, hole punches, and kitchen tongs for practice. These are all great fine motor activities!
Ripping paper is another great pre-cutting activity that strengthens the fine motor muscles needed for scissor skills. Children must use their thumb and first two fingers as they rip the paper. Ripping helps to improve bilateral coordination since children are ripping the paper between their fingers in the opposite direction.
Cutting Paper Into Strips
Cutting pieces of paper into strips into a cutting tray is a perfect first step of scissor cutting practice. This encourages confidence because it is only opening the scissor one time to make a cut, leading the child to feel proud of their first scissor attempt. Cutting short snips at a time increases hand strength without causing tiredness and encourages children to keep practicing!
Cutting Straight Lines
Once some stamina and hand strength have been established, children are ready to begin cutting straight lines on paper. Begin with the child’s ability level and consider how many times the child will have to open and close their hands to reach the end. You may hear, “My hand is tired!” which means that the child could use some more practice with fine motor skills to continue building their hand strength.
Cutting Zig-Zag or Curved Lines
Next in the lineup is cutting zig-zag or curved lines. Zig-zag and curved lines are pretty difficult to cut! The child has to hold the paper differently so they can turn it, or their hand, while they cut. Cutting this way is far more advanced than the previous stages.
Teach the child to turn the paper as they cut with their other hand. This will take modeling and practice before this becomes an easy task. To make it easier, consider using pre-printed cutting practice worksheets.
Related Activities to Build Fine Motor Skills
Tips for Teaching Scissor Cutting to Preschoolers
While scissor cutting practice may not begin for many children until they are of preschool age, even toddlers of two years are old enough to begin learning how to cut. The following are some tips to consider when teaching a child how to use scissors.
Ensure Proper Cutting Stance
It’s important to teach the correct body and arm positions when cutting with scissors. There are a few things to check for when monitoring scissor cutting. They are as follows:
- scissors pointed away from the body
- elbows tucked in by ribs
- thumb facing up and is through the top or smaller handle
- pointer and middle fingers are threaded through the larger handle
Children need reminders that scissors are a special tool with sharp edges that need to be handled very carefully. They are not toys and children should never treat them as such. Children should always be supervised by an adult while using and handling scissors.
Materials for Learning How to Cut With Scissors
These are some of the best tools when it comes to teaching scissor use in preschool. Check them out!
Activities for Teaching Scissor Cutting to Preschoolers
Providing a variety of high-interest materials is a great way to invite preschoolers to scissor cutting practice. Here are some fun ideas to get your preschoolers cutting in a variety of ways.
- Cutting paper – use newspaper, magazines, wrapping paper, junk mail, etc. to encourage children to cut out interesting things. This activity also builds vocabulary and language skills as the children talk about their objects.
- Cutting craft items – use straws, paper towel rolls, yarn, tape, foam, ribbon, paper plates, etc. Invite the child to get creative with their cuts!
- Play dough – cutting playdough is such fun and the best part? Smash it back together and do it all over again!
- Nature – collect appropriate outside items like grass, leaves, herbs, and other wonders of nature and allow the children to practice their cutting skills.
Related Fun Scissor Cutting Activities for Kids
These scissor cutting exercises for preschoolers are sure to be a hit!
I am an educator, book enthusiast, and a stay at home momma to two precious and long-awaited littles. My degree is in Early Childhood Education and Curriculum and Instruction and I have spent the last 15 years working with young children. I feel very fortunate to have this time to watch my babies grow and I can’t wait to share my passion for learning and reading with you!