How to begin Scissor Skills

Learning scissor skills is vital to little learners because, it helps to develop and establish hand writing skills. Working with scissors requires hand strength and fine motor skills, so there are many different techniques your little learner can explore to develop early scissor skills. 
Some activities to further encourage and develop scissor skills are:

  • Using Pipets (droppers)
  • Working with tongs
  • Ripping paper
  • Pealing stickers
  • Using an individual hole puncher

1. HOW TO HOLD SCISSORS

To begin this very tricky skill, demonstrate to your learner how to hold the pair of scissors. I would always tell my little ones to have their thumbs facing up. You can also add a sticker or smiley face to their thumbs to support this.

2. PRACTICING HOW TO OPEN AND CLOSE

Practicing how to cut including the motion of opening and closing can be practiced on some of these things.

  • Play dough
  • Straws
  • Wool

3. INTRODUCING RULES

To start your learner off you need to explain to them the importance of scissor safety. When I started my oldest with scissor skills my first and main rule was “sit down, when holding scissors”! I repeated this many times to my now nearly 5 year old when he was 2. As it’s a new tool, children get excited and might want to further explore with it on their own including other things, so this is where my second rule comes in. “Only for paper”

Once your learner has practiced cutting on play dough, straws and wool, this second rule is a great reminder for them to understand that it can be dangerous cutting anything else but paper.

Which leads to my third rule which is “scissors are sharp”! This brings me down memory lane, when my now 4 year old was still using plastic scissors he managed to snip off the end of my youngest hair!! Which is also why I recommend them not knowing where you store the scissors, until they are at an age where they completely understand all the rules.

TOP SCISSOR RULES

  1. Sit down when using scissors
  2. Only for paper
  3. Scissors are sharp

Repeating these rules over and over before bringing out any scissor activity, including during the process can really help your learners understand these rules.

4. ESTABLISHING THE ORDER OF CUTTING

Ripping
To build on this new skill children need to strengthen their fine motor skills (finger and hand muscles). One of the first techniques is to rip paper, this skill also works on bilateral coordination as your learner hold the paper in both hands.

Snipping
This is one of the very first steps of using a pair of scissors. Take a small strip of paper and get your learner to snip the paper horizontally. Holding the paper strip in the left hand and snipping on the right hand side. (left handed opposite side) The aim is to snip right through the strip of paper.

Fringe
Using your strip of paper your learner makes small cuts into the paper, this is to encourage the cutting motion. As your learner is still developing the scissor hold this technique also supports and strengthens their hold.

Straight and Simple Lines
These lines are the easiest lines for your learner to begin with as they follow a simple and basic line. This develops their focus and concentration when cutting as they work on all skills. (Using their eyes to focus on the paper and line while holding the paper carefully in the other hand)

Zig Zag and Curved Lines
These lines encourages your learner to manoeuvre their scissors is different ways, working their wrist rotation and hand muscles.

Basic Shapes
Cutting shapes further develops their skills as they cut around different angles and corners while continuing to manoeuvre their scissors in different directions.

5. CHOOSING A PAIR OF SCISSORS
There are so many different brands of scissors out there, and sometimes finding the right one for your learner can be tricky. I have always found that starting off with a good pair of scissors means the process will be easier for your little ones.

Children can get frustrated very easily especially when learning a new skill, so when we first introduced scissors to my little learners we started off with Crayola’s Plastic Safety Scissors.

This 3 pack of scissors all had different blades making if fun to work with play dough yet easy to handle on paper. Once my little learners had established working with these scissors including the process of cutting through paper we moved onto Crayola’s Blunt Tip Metal Scissors.
My eldest loved the upgrade and found cutting with this pair a breeze, they have the perfect amount of grip and because of its blunt end it makes it that bit safer when handling them.

IS MY CHILD READY TO START
Every child is different and all learn at a different pace. Sometimes children might be ready to pick up a pair of scissors from 2 years old, where as some might only be ready from 3 years onwards. My eldest started using scissors from 2 years old, we started off with play dough and it took him a good year using the plastic scissors till he gradually moved onto the metal scissors.

He loved working with scissors and always asked to use them, But my youngest started at 25 months and took interest the first time but it didn’t last long. This doesn’t mean I wont be introducing scissors to him anytime soon, it just means we will take things slower than what we did with my eldest. Rushing learning skills can make your learners get frustrated quickly and not want to continue the task. Just follow your child’s lead, this way everyone enjoys the new learning process, and there is no pressure.

Want to further support your learners new found skill, you can check out our new hands on Scissor Skills activity book.


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