Learning To Use Scissors

Learning To Use Scissors

23 March 2017

Using scissors requires small muscles in the hand to have strength and coordination to manipulate them.  It takes time and patience for children to master using scissors and to help strengthen the small muscles in the hand, there are a variety of fun games and activities for children to engage with through play:

  • Squirting trigger action spray bottles—aiming for a target such as a balloon or small container.
  • Using tongs or tweezers—picking up small objects such as cotton wool balls, small blocks, or pieces of scrunched paper.
  • Punching holes in paper—using a single hole paper punch to punch out a line or pattern in stiff cardboard or paper.
  • Playing with clothes pegs—placing them around containers to make fences for objects or to hang out paintings, drawings, dolls clothes, socks, etc.
  • Using playdough—squeezing and stretching playdough.

As children engage in games and activities to strengthen these small muscles, they begin to also develop fine motor and hand-eye coordination.  Cutting with scissors requires children to use bilateral coordination – meaning children use both sides of their body at the same time and in this case using both hands, with each hand doing something different.  One hand holds, turns and guides the paper being cut, with the other hand controlling, manipulating and guiding forward the scissors.  The development of fine motor skills, hand-eye, and bilateral coordination is important for children as it is required in many everyday tasks such as preparing food, getting dressed, or washing dishes.

Stages of scissor skill development.  Usually children develop skills in this order:

  • Holds scissors.
  • Makes single snips.
  • Holds paper whilst snipping.
  • Cuts across paper. Start with narrow strips of card then gradually introduce larger pieces of card.
  • Cuts along a straight line. Start with a thick line then gradually introduce a narrower line.
  • Cuts along a curved line.
  • Cuts around simple shapes (square, circle, oval, triangle).
  • Cuts around simple shapes with corners and curves (moon, heart, star).

Children might also enjoy practicing scissor skills when they are participating in a special activity. Some easy activity ideas for early cutting experiences are:

  • Cut paper lengths for a paper chain.
  • Cut fringes along a card or around a paper plate to make a lion mask.
  • Cut different textured items for a collage, such as straws, card, coloured paper strips and patty pans.
  • Cut a picture into pieces to make a puzzle.
  • Cut out pictures to paste.