5 Fun activities to strengthen toddlers’ and preschoolers’ scissor skills. Using materials other than paper can be the easiest way for kids to learn how to use scissors. In this post, I’ll share several of my favourite materials for cutting practice exercises that you can use with your children.
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 toddlers and preschoolers in my daycare 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 all about experimenting, having fun, and the excitement that the children 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 from child to child, but in my daycare, the hooligans 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.
Pro tip: How to teach kids how to hold scissors the right way:
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’s great for helping kids who are just learning how to use scissors. 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. Straws are fun and fairly to cut through so they’re one of the hooligans favourite things to practice cutting with. 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 with. Like the drinking straws, styrofoam makes a nice sound when you cut through it. Scissors slice through the styrofoam easily, and the pieces can be used later for crafting (see our mosaic art with styrofoam pieces here).
Note: Before crafting with meat trays, sterilize them in your dishwasher first.
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.
Kids can practice cutting in a straight line by following the white lines on the paint chip cards. We use the cut up paint chip samples various art and craft projects. Click here to see our Paint Chip Mosaics, Paint Chip Candy Canes and Paint Chip Fall Trees.
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 introducing these scissors to your child.
More Scissor Skills Activities:
Here are Five More Cutting Practice Activities for your kids to try.
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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. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.