Learning to use scissors is one of the many milestones preschoolers will achieve. Kids will learn to use scissors at varying ages and skill levels.
As with most skills that require fine motor development and hand strength, practice makes perfect. Kids need to use scissors frequently and in a variety of contexts in order to improve their skills.
Our goal is to make cutting practice fun so that kids will actually want to spend time doing it. If you mix it up with the cutting activities for preschoolers below, your child will be cutting like a pro before you know it.
Why Practice Scissor Skills
There are many reasons kids need to practice their scissor skills. Many of the crafts and projects they do in elementary school and beyond will require precise cutting.
Everyday tasks like writing, playing and brushing teeth require fine motor skills and hand strength. When kids practice cutting, they’re also building up their strength and precision to complete these other tasks.
Scissor Skills Development by Age
Scissor skills develop over time, so you shouldn’t expect your child to be able to use them accurately until early elementary school. However, kids as young as two can start developing these skills through fun cutting activities.
2 to 3 Years Old
Starting at around age two, you can introduce scissors. The plastic ones designed for preschoolers are best, as they only cut paper. At this age, let your child explore with the scissors instead of trying to get them to hold them correctly.
Show your child how they open and close. Your child may use two hands to open and close the scissors.
3 to 4 Years Old
By three, most kids can make small snips into a piece of paper. They may make a snip or two and then tear the paper the rest of the way. They’ll also start to use their other hand to hold the paper.
4 to 5 Years Old
Between four and five years old, your child will be able to cut along a straight line with some accuracy. They can also cut along a curved line and eventually will be able to cut out a circle and a rectangle.
5 to 6 Years Old
By six, most kids are able to cut out most shapes, even complicated figures. Their precision will continue to grow in the coming years as their fine motor skills develop.
Types of Scissors
Kids need help learning how to use scissors. Choosing the right type of scissors and teaching proper finger placement will help your child develop their skills more easily.
There are a few types of scissors made to help your kids with cutting. We used two different types of scissors for these activities.
- Plastic Training Scissors: Plastic scissors are a good first step. These scissors will cut through paper, but can’t cut much else. You won’t have to worry about your child cutting their clothes or hair.
We especially like these because they have a hinge. When flipped out, it makes the scissors automatically open after each squeeze, which means less work for little hands. The hinge flips back when your child is ready to open and close on their own.
- Blunt-tip Scissors: Once your child can open and close scissors with proficiency and you don’t have to worry about them cutting something they shouldn’t, they’re ready for a regular pair of scissors.
The Fiskars scissors have a blunt metal edge and are ideal for kids who have some scissor experience. They also have a cover to keep kids safe when they’re not in use.
How to Hold Scissors
Holding scissors and paper correctly will go a long way in helping your child learn to cut with stamina and accuracy.
When holding scissors, the thumb should face up and go in the top (usually smaller) hole. The first and second fingers go through the bottom hole. The third and fourth fingers rest under the scissors for support, just as when writing.
The other hand holds the paper. The thumb should be on top, the other fingers underneath. It’s easier to guide the paper this way.
Strategies for Improving Scissor Skills
In addition to cutting activities, there are other fun activities you can do to help improve scissor skills.
Fine Motor Development
Fine motor activities help with cutting, writing, and many other skills. Your child can develop fine motor skills by playing with:
- Busy boards
Building Hand Strength
Kids need a lot of practice building up their hand strength. Toys like play dough and certain fidget spinners help kids to build hand strength.
16 Fun Cutting Activities
It’s common to give kids paper to practice cutting. However, kids will get bored with that after a while. Give them lots of materials to cut. It’ll build hand strength and they’ll enjoy cutting more interesting things.
Tip: You may want to keep a cutting bin with the materials that your kid can pull out and practice with. You can fill it with some of the items below and other readily available materials like paper plates, paper towel rolls, etc.
1. Fun Paper
Leftover construction paper, scrap paper, and scrapbook cardstock make great cutting materials. They’re more fun than curing the typical white printer paper. The different textures also help with fine motor skills.
Kids love stickers, so why not let them cut them?
These alphabet stickers are great cutting practice for preschoolers, as they can do double duty as mini alphabet puzzles, helping to teach letter recognition.
3. Junk Mail
Junk mail makes good scissors practice for preschoolers because of the different textures. Instead of throwing away unwanted mail, drop it into your child’s cutting practice box.
Kids enjoy cutting ribbons because of their shiny texture. These type are especially fun because of the curls.
5. Old Comic Books
If your older kids have old comic books they no longer read, add them to the cutting bin. While preschoolers are a little young to read comic books, they make great scissor cutting practice especially ones that feature popular superheroes. Kids can cut apart the panels to make individual pictures or rearrange them.
6. Wrapping Paper
Wrapping paper is great for cutting practice. The texture and the crinkly noise give kids a pleasant sensory experience.
Sponges make for excellent cutting materials. They’re not too tough to cut, but tough enough to build hand strength. Cutting sponges is one of the best cutting activities for preschoolers.
8. Poster Board
If you have an extra poster board, you can create a cutting activity with straight lines and curved lines.
These longer lines help older preschoolers build up their stamina and hand strength.
Thin rope is a fun cutting material because kids can unroll it and cut it into small pieces. They can then practice making knots, which develops fine motor skills.
10. Play Dough
Play dough is fun to roll out and cut. As an added bonus, kids will also work on developing fine motor skills and hand strength.
11. Gummy Bears
Nothing motivates kids like candy. Gummy bears, licorice ropes, and other stretchy candy make for delicious cutting.
12. Hole Punchers
Hole punchers are great for building hand strength. These are fun because they cut out cute shapes. Kids also work on fine motor skills as they insert the paper.
The hole punch set we used comes in a set of ten and is great for crafts as well.
13. Playing Cards
If you have decks of playing cards that are missing cards, put the extras in the cutting bin. These are fun for kids to cut into small pieces or even make little puzzles.
Fabric scraps are good for helping kids build hand strength. You could even use fabric scraps to make a quilt with your child.
Leftover party decorations make great cutting supplies. Streamers are especially fun because they’re easy to cut and fun to roll and unroll.
16. Bubble Wrap
Finally, bubble wrap is always a favorite. Kids can cut through it or try to pop the bubbles with their scissors, building fine motor skills.
More Cutting Practice
Below are four more cutting ideas to keep your kids excited about developing their cutting skills. You can create these sheets on cardstock, printer paper, or poster board.
- Line Cutting – Draw straight lines, dotted lines, and curved lines across the sheet for kids to practice cutting. Don’t make your curves too small as it may be too challenging.
- Shape Cutting – Kids who have learned to cut lines are ready to cut basic shapes like squares, rectangles, and triangles. Draw these shapes on a piece of paper and let your kid cut.
- Advanced Shape Cutting – Shapes like circles, moons, and hearts are more challenging to cut. Draw these shapes for advanced cutting practice.
- Animal Cutting – Nonstandard shapes are the most challenging of all. You can draw simple animals or use a clipart. Draw an outline around the animal so that cutting isn’t too challenging.
Cutting is an important developmental skill that kids are usually eager to learn. By doing these cutting activities for preschoolers, your child can get better and better at using scissors.