Tips for teaching scissor skills to preschool children

The motor control that a child has with scissors, like all fine motor skills, develops as they grow older.

Generally I find that the below progression holds true.

Age Cutting Skills
2 ½ years Snip
3 years Cut forward
3 ½ years Cut straight line
4 years Cut around corners
4 ½ years Cut curved lines
5 years Abstract shapes

 

While children will develop these skills over time, scissor skills are not fully developed until they are 5 or 6 years old. Scissor skills are quite difficult to master as strong wrist and hand muscles are necessary to open and close the scissors.

What is the correct scissor hold?

The thumb should be placed in the top loop and the index and middle finger in the bottom loop. Alternatively the index finger can be used as a support on the outside of the bottom loop.

TIP: I like to draw a small smiley face on the top/ knuckle of the thumb as a constant reminder that the thumb stays in the top loop of the scissors.

TIP: I like to draw a small smiley face on the top/ knuckle of the thumb as a constant reminder that the thumb stays in the top loop of the scissors. TicTacTeach.com

The essential skills for scissor use that should be addressed in any activity are:

  • Closing and opening the hand
  • Using the hands together with the leading hand holding the scissors and the helping hand supporting the paper
  • Isolating thumb, index and middle finger movements
  • Coordinating arm, hand and eye movements
  • Stabilization of joints (wrist, shoulder, elbow) so the scissors are controlled.

When undertaking scissor skills exercises, encourage children to use their preferred hand to hold the scissors. This may involve experimenting until they establish a preferred hand.

The preferred hand is assisted by their helping hand to turn the paper. While cutting away from the body, children need to use the thumb of the helping hand on the top of the paper.

Ideas for starting out

To develop all of the above skills required for scissor use a variety of other fun activities can be used as well.

To develop scissor skills you can use a variety of other fun activities as well. Tictacteach.com/scissor-skills

Some of my favorite alternate tools that promote the same skills are:

  • Tongs
  • Spray bottles
  • Hole punch
  • Tweezers
  • Water pistol
  • Play dough, and
  • Pegs

Scissor Skills for Preschoolers Infographic - TicTacTeach