5 fun cutting activities to help toddlers and preschoolers develop their scissor skills.
A couple of questions that I often hear from parents with young children are: “how can I help my child improve her scissor skills“, and “when should my child start using scissors“. Read on to see how I introduce the hooligans, at a young age, to using scissors with a variety of fun and simple materials for cutting. We don’t have an end result in mind when we’re using these materials. These activities are experimenting, having fun, and the excitement that the little ones express whey they have success.
I’ve put these cutting exercises in order ranging from easiest to most advanced.
When can your child start using scissors?
You may be wondering when your child can start to use scissors. The answer to this will vary a little from child to child, but in my daycare, the hooligans generally start experimenting with scissors at age 2 or earlier. Most of the children are cutting quite well by the time they’re three.
As for what kind of scissors to introduce your child to, a pair of basic safety scissors are a great way to start, but if your child finds them difficult to use, these beginner scissors are super to start off with because they’re spring loaded, and the child manipulates them with their whole hand rather than with their fingers.
A tip for teaching proper hand positioning:
If you’re using regular safety scissors, a good tip to help your child remember how to position his or her hand is to draw a smiley face on the thumbnail of their cutting hand, and remind your child that they should always be able to see the smiley face while they’re cutting. This prevents the child from turning their hand upside down while cutting.
5 cutting activities for children:
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Using scissors with play dough:
Whenever the hooligans play with play dough, I set out several pairs of scissors. They’re always one of the most popular tools on the table. Play dough is easy to cut through so it provides a great medium for little ones to get started with. You can give your child regular safety scissors for this activity, or you can use plastic scissors designed for cutting dough.
Cutting up drinking straws:
Colourful plastic drinking straws. Without a doubt, this is one of the hooligans’ favourite cutting activities. Straws are fun and fairly easy for young children to cut through. This activity is a lot of fun because the straws make a satisfying snap when they’ re cut, and they fly into the air causing hysterical fits of laughter. Bonus: Once your straws are all cut up, you can string some yarn through the pieces to make a necklace.
Cutting styrofoam meat trays:
Styrofoam meat trays are another favourite for the hooligans to practice their scissor skills on. Like the drinking straws, there’s a neat sound that comes along with cutting through the styrofoam. Scissors slice through the styrofoam easily, and the pieces can be used for crafting. Before crafting with meat trays, run them through your dishwasher to sterilize them.
Cutting paint chip samples:
Cutting up paint swatches is a popular cutting activity here, and one that the hooligans ask for several time a week.
The older children love to cut along the white lines of the paint chip cards. We use the scraps for various art and craft projects. Click here to see our Paint Chip Mosaics.
Using Scrapbook scissors or scissors with a fancy edge:
Older children who have mastered their cutting skills love using my scrapbook scissors to make scalloped and fancy cuts. These scissors are sharper than regular scissors so use your best judgement when deciding when to introduce these scissors to your child.
Looking for more cutting activities for your toddler or preschooler? I have a collection of Five More Cutting Activities that you might enjoy.
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.