learning to cut with scissors

Learning to Cut with Scissors: How to Teach Preschoolers to Use Scissors

So, your crafty kiddo just starts learning to cut with scissors? Breathe deeply, you can handle this.

It can be scary to put something sharp — even when it’s a blade as dull as can be — in small hands, but with the right precautions, and a good strategy, teaching kids to use scissors early can be a huge benefit for their fine motor skills and their sense of responsibility.

1. Develop the right motor skills.

Here are a few steps to take in the learning to cut with scissors journey:

Begin by helping your mini Mozart develop the hand movements necessary to operate scissors. Here’s an idea: try out Wundercare’s clothesline alphabet activity[1] ! The fine motor skills necessary to open and clothes a clothespin will help when it comes to operating scissors.

2. Set the rules.

Once you’ve practiced with the grasp-release method, introduce a few ground rules for using scissors:

1. Stay still and seated with scissors in hand.
2. Only use scissors to cut paper (or whatever has been designated as OK to cut).
3. Always keep the scissors pointed down and away from others (model this yourself, so that young ones understand).
4. Only use scissors with supervision.

These rules are important and should be enforced without leniency. If any of them are broken, be prepared to take the scissors away or limit their use until safety lessons are learned.

Tip: Don’t forget that positive reinforcement is generally better than negative! When a preschooler follows the rules, make sure to commend them for being responsible and safe.

3. Start with a line, one at a time.

Let this be your scissor-usage mantra. A small dotted line looks like the easiest thing on Earth to cut, but it can be tricky, since it requires precision.

Draw a dotted line on a small piece of paper — one that only requires one snip to cut straight through. Eventually, you can lengthen the line to two or three snips.

Find time throughout the day to introduce the use of scissors in small groups or one-on-one, that way you can supervise preschoolers as they work on slicing through that dotted line.

4. Find other materials to cut through.

Practice using scissors to cut through foam, cardstock, and playdough. Experimenting with different textures and thicknesses will help children develop a sense of how pressure and difficulty can vary.

Also, cutting through playdough is just satisfying.

5. Upgrade to a zig zag!

When the line becomes a drag, start to zig-zag.

Fine, our rhymes are getting less clever, but you get the idea. Draw simple zig-zag and jagged lines on paper to increase the challenge for older learners.

As kids get older, they should be able to upgrade to cutting out shapes and following more complex patterns. Biggest advice: Don’t rush learning to cut with scissors process. Spend a little extra money on safety scissors that are actually safe. Take it slow and steady, emphasize the rules, and celebrate the small successes!

Keep up with your snipping scholar’s progress using scissors and learning fine motor skills with a childcare center software like Wündercare!

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