Preschoolers and Scissors
By: Stephanie Hiday
One of the first skills I introduce my preschoolers to is scissor cutting. You should see the excitement and sheer amazement on my littles faces when I hand them a pair of scissors. For many, it is the first time they have been entrusted with this tool. It’s obvious that many parents shudder at the thought of giving their four year old a pair of scissors. I have to laugh when my littles say, “My mommy doesn’t let me have scissors!” Yes, hair stylists and clothes fashion designers have emerged from using a pair of scissors, but that comes with the curiosity of our little people. Of course, when teaching preschoolers about using scissors you must remember to teach them about safety first! Don’t forget to include how to carry scissors facing down and closed, the correct way to hold scissors, and the importance of ONLY cutting the materials being used. I have to admit, as a parent of five children, I didn’t always have scissors readily available either and I had to repeat myself many times on the safety issues and proper use of scissors.
Over the course of teaching young children, I have found some great ways to introduce the skill of scissor cutting. Here are some ways you might find useful when helping your preschooler at home:
- Engage your child by showing them a toy shark or alligator.
- Talk about what the animal looks like and question your child about the animal’s teeth. Explain that the animal takes big bites and little bites. Use your hands to imitate little bites called nibbles. Use your arms to imitate big bites called chomps!
- Show your child scissors. Explain to your child how scissor cutting could be like an animal eating his lunch! Sometimes when you are cutting out things you need to take big bites and sometimes you need to take little bites.
I like to follow a progression of activities using scissors. Listed below is the order of cutting activities that I use when practicing scissor skills.
- Plastic drinking straws
- Styrofoam plates
- Craft foam
- Construction paper strips
- Practice pages with lines (begin with simple lines then designs with zigzags)
After we have mastered those materials, we begin to cut out different craft activities.
Scissor cutting is a skill that requires hand strength which include finger muscles. There are many ways to improve your child’s fine motor skills which will help your child when using scissors. A few activities include: tearing paper into small pieces (making a mosaic), rolling and squeezing playdough, using a hole puncher, squeezing water squirt toys, using an eye dropper or clothespins.
Lastly, when practicing using scissors with your child, have fun! Remember that using scissors is a complicated skill that improves with time and practice!