12 Things to Let Children Cut When Learning to Use Scissors

scissor skillsLearning to use scissors is a wonderful skill that helps to build strong hands and coordination skills for children.  It encourages a child to use two hands together (bilateral skills) while developing grasping skills that are needed for writing (grasp using the thumb and first two fingers, just like holding a pencil).

I hear frequently from parents that “we haven’t let him yet” when I ask about a child’s experience with scissors.  I completely understand as a parent.  Giving young children scissors can be daunting and many children enter kindergarten without having learned this important skill.

However, as an occupational therapist, I strongly encourage parents to buy child-sized scissors (that are safe for kids!) and give their child opportunities to practice cutting.  There are many inexpensive scissors available (I usually find self-opening scissors for beginner cutters at our dollar store). I recommend it be a supervised activity that stays at the table, but that still allows exploration with this new motor skill.

Remember, kids need variation to stay engaged.  No child wants to learn to cut by practicing on boring lines on paper.  It is a great opportunity to explore and have fun!


Here are ideas of things to cut to make it more fun:scissor skills

  1. Paper strips (to make confetti) (or try paint samples from the home improvement store)
  2. Yarn, string, and ribbonsIMG_20160304_151013
  3. Packing peanuts
  4. Strawsscissor skills
  5. Play doughscissor skills
  6. Leaves, flowers, and grasscutting
  7. Empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes
  8. Magazines, junk mail, wrapping paper, coloring book pagesJunk mail play 2
  9. Sand paper
  10. Craft foam sheets
  11. Crepe paper (streamers)
  12. Fabric (a great way to use old clothing)

Anything else you find (a great way to recycle old things around the house!)scissor skills

Other blog posts about using a variety of cutting materials when learning to use scissors:

Looking for other ideas for home to promote hand skills (fine motor, dexterity, bilateral skills):

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net