Learning how to use scissors plays an important role in developing the fine motor skills young children need in order to hold pencils and crayons.
Having strong fine motor skills will help children as they begin the tricky process of learning how to write.
It might sound easy, but teaching young children how to cut with scissors is a very complex task.
Sequence of Scissor Skills
This is the order in which cutting skills should be introduced to young children.
- Straight lines
- Zig zag lines
- Curved lines (circles, waves, hearts)
- Right angles (squares and rectangles)
Scissor Skill Definitions
Ripping sturdy paper such as construction paper is the perfect activity for young children to engage in before being introduced to scissors. Children exercise their tripod grasp- or their thumb and first two fingers as they grip the paper to rip it. Ripping also requires children to move their hands in opposite directions at the same time which helps develop bilateral coordination skills. Cut sturdy paper into strips and invite children to rip away! When they demonstrate they are ready, move to larger pieces of paper.
Snipping is the act of opening and closing the scissors one time only which results in successfully cutting something. Snipping will help children develop the muscles in their hands necessary to cut longer lines later so their hands won’t become fatigued.
Fringe is repetitive snipping without cutting the paper in half.
The Importance of Scissor Skills
The opening and closing motion of cutting with scissors helps children develop the small muscles in their hands otherwise known as fine motor skills. These muscles are crucial for holding a pencil or crayons and gripping and manipulating objects.
Cutting also helps develop eye-hand coordination as children hold the paper with one hand and cut with the other while tracking the movement of the scissors with their eyes.
Another important skill that is developed through cutting is bilateral coordination. Bilateral coordination involves using both sides of the body at the same time while each hand is performing different tasks. For example, to cut a square, the child must hold the paper with one hand and turn it while the other hand is not only opening and closing the scissors but also moving along the line. Easier said than done!
Tips for Teaching Scissor Skills
Provide high quality scissors for beginners- my absolute favorite brand is Fiskars. Fiskars open and close easily and have a short, blunt tip for safety. Cheaper scissors tend not to cut as well and lead to frustration.
Wrap electrical tape around the thumb hole so children will know where to put their thumb.
Use a song or chant to remind kids where their fingers belong. I use Dr. Jean’s Scissor Snips song from her All Day Long CD.
Start with snipping things like paint chips, play dough, and straws.
Draw lines with a ruler on construction paper and cut into strips with a paper cutter. Place stickers between lines on the strips and invite children to snip on the lines.
Place samples of each child’s snippings in an envelope and label with their name and date. Place the envelopes in the children’s portfolios to discuss at parent conferences.
Use a ruler to draw evenly spaced lines from the bottom of a square piece of green construction paper up two inches. Then, place insect stickers at the top of each line. Invite children to fringe the paper by cutting on the lines. When they have finished cutting, fold the fringe upwards to create the effect of bugs hiding in the grass.
Save the fronts of old greeting cards (age appropriate of course) and invite children to cut as they choose. Cards are thicker and provide more resistance and stability that helps beginners hold the paper and maneuver the scissors.
Provide rolling pins in the play dough center.
Provide activities that use tools such as tongs, hole punches, tweezers, eyedroppers, and clothespins to strengthen fine motor skills.
Tools to Support the Development of Scissor Skills
- Fiskars Kids Blunt Tip Scissors
- Fiskars Spring Action Scissors
- Helping Hands Fine Motor Set
- Rolling Pins
- Hole Punch
- Strawberry Hullers
- Spray Bottle
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Posted by Pre-K Pages on Thursday, March 24, 2016
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