Teach Cutting and Scissor Skills to Children: Questions and Answers

Teach Cutting and Scissor Skills to Children: Questions and Answers

October 14, 2013 - 9:29 pm

Two important questions Occupational Therapists ask Parents about cutting and scissor skills:


  1. Are you teaching your child to first hold scissors and then to cut?

  2. Is your child’s progress with learning to hold scissors and cut causing you concern?











My Occupational Therapy answers based on my 20+ years of experience:


  • Ideally toddlers and children learn fine motor skills like holding scissors and cutting, step-by-step, with each step building on the previous skill and reinforced by practice.


  • Fine motor skills refer to hand dexterity and the ability to manipulate and control tools like utensils, pencils, crayons, scissors, and so on.


  • When it comes to learning to cut with scissors parents, educators, professionals and caregivers may be at a loss as to where to start.


  • The most common error is to start with scissors, which seems like the right thing to do!  It seems obvious; you cut with scissors, so you should start teaching how to cut with scissors.


  • But toddlers and pre-schoolers actually need to learn, develop and practice the grasp patterns, eye-hand coordination, and muscle strength along with many other pre-cutting skills well before they pick up scissors.


  • Without a step-by-step plan to develop toddlers and preschoolers fine motor skills, holding scissors and cutting can be a frustrating process for the child trying to learn and the adult trying to teach.


  • You can avoid this frustration for both you and your child, accelerate the learning process while having fun by following simple steps and activities to teach and learn how to use and cut with scissors.


What are some of my favorite and kid-favorite preschool learning activities to easily develop cutting and scissor skills?  Well, I wrote a whole eBook of them!


Teach Cutting and Scissor Skills eBook Cover
Teach Cutting and Scissor Skills eBook Cover









Here are my 8 best tips that help children learn to cut and use scissors that are included in the eBook.


  1. Before starting with scissors, remember to practice pre-cutting activities to build hand-eye coordination and hand muscle strength.

  2. Pre-cutting activities include playing with large plastic tweezers and trying to pick up objects like cotton balls with them.

  3. Another pre-cutting activity is to use a turkey baster or a small plastic syringe and transferring water from container to container.

  4. The key is to make these activities fun and to continue doing them, even after your child starts using scissors.

  5. Make learning complete:  have your child help find and prepare your cutting and pre-cutting activity supplies.  Ensure they help clean them up too.

  6. Teach your child that it is safety first when using scissors. Ensure the scissors fit your child’s hand. And holding scissors properly is very important.

  7. Set your child up for success once you progress to holding and cutting with scissors by teaching snips first.  What you snip, be it paper, straws or string can be used as part of a larger game, activity or art project to help make practice fun.

  8. Progress slowly.  Practice a lot.  Always have fun.  Ensure your child does the “work” because children learn by doing.  You can tell your child, you can show your child, but if your child does something with you, they will remember it!


Share in comments below, what activities have you found to best prepare your child for scissor skills?

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