Archive for the 'scissor/cutting skills' Category

Equipment: Scissor Types

If your child has not established a hand dominance, consider using “loop” scissors that do not require finger placement but rather use the whole hand for opening and closing the scissors.  These loop scissors often have spring action which helps with the concept of “open and close” needed for regular scissors. Find these at or !

If your child is left handed, please purchase left handed scissors.  Many left handers that I know actually use their right hand for scissor usage as they were not given left handed scissors early in education. Check out!

There are wonderful scissors which allow the teacher to place their fingers along side of the child’s fingers to help with teaching the open and close motion! Find these at or!

For those who like the thumb in a loop, the middle finger in a loop, and the index finger along the blades there are small scissors to allow this method of teaching as well! Find these at


Ready to Use Scissors?

Because development happens in a sequential fashion, it is important to respect the developmental sequence. This may help avoid frustration on your part (as you ask a child to do something they aren’t ready to do) and on the child’s part (whose nervous system is not ready to do this skill).  Stepping Stones Age Norms From Birth to Age Six by Keith E. Beery and Natasha A. Beery have given us developmental guidelines for scissor usage. Please remember however that each child develops at different rates.  You may have a child that is more advanced or one that is more immature than what is listed below as a guideline. Please work at the child’s developmental age level not his chronological age level to insure success! Make sure the scissors are safe and activities supervised.

2.7 years: Makes small snips with help

3.11 years: Cuts a piece of paper in half on a fairly straight line

4.7 years: Cuts out a big circle

4.11 years: Cuts pre drawn 4 inch square within 1/4 inch of line

4.11 years: Makes a collage of easy shapes after cutting out

5.5 years: Cuts cloth with scissors

5.11 years: Cuts out simple picture following a general outline within 1/4 inch

Psalm 139:14


Great Fine Motor Ideas!

There are so many blogs and webpages with great fine motor ideas!  I am listing a few that you might want to further explore.  If I have accidentally left yours out, please leave a comment alerting us to yours!  I would love to know your favorites!



Scissor Skills: Strong Hands

Hand muscles have two functions: power and precision.  Both are needed with scissor usage.  Encourage the major players in scissor usage, thumb, index and middle fingers, with activities such as these:

*Safety warning: An adult should always supervise these activities.  The small items should be enlarged or eliminated with children who still put objects in their mouths.

Tearing old Coke cartons and birthday cards before trashing them

Pinching off play dough or clay, looking for small items hidden in the play dough,

Using strawberry tongs, toaster tongs, tweezers to pick up pompoms, gold fish crackers, etc

Stamping with stamps and paper (place the paper on a slanted surface or on an easel to help with wrist muscle strengthening)

Plastic clothespins: favorite visual perceptual activity using patterns and tiny clothespins: Get A Grip on Patterns by Shaked, alphabet clothespins for spelling a name

Easter egg tongs which look like scissors with cups on the ends

My picture has several of my favorite games which “grow” with a child and strengthen the hands:

Pop Up Pirate:  Place the swords in playdough or clay for the child to dig out before playing the game.

Connect Four: Use strawberry tongs to place the chips in.  Younger children like to do patterns with the chips.

Fine Motor Olympics: Great activities for summer! Order from

Tricky Fingers: Kindergarten and up: Discovery Toys

Calirobics: Pencil control to music: Just happened to be in the picture!:) Not so much strengthening:(

Your favorite?  I am giving away a copy of my book: Alphabet Soup: Stirring Your Child’s Interest in Letters to someone who leaves an activity suggestion.  I promise NOT to add you to my e mail list if you respond

Scissor Skills: Using Two Hands Together

When you are using scissors, it’s necessary for each hand to work separately but yet together.  Take a piece of paper and try cutting a circle out of it with a pair of scissors.  See how well your two hands work together!

Ideally, the dominant hand moves the scissors to cut the paper held in the other hand. The non dominant hand holding the paper will shift the paper, making it more easily cut.  However, frequently in my population, the “dominant” hand will hold the scissors still while the other hand holding the paper does all the work.  I see a lot of this with children who are late deciding which hand to use; or tend to still be deciding which hand to use; or cut going the wrong way.   Therefore it’s important to encourage activities which require the two hands working together: stringing beads, lacing cards, tearing various weights of paper, “pie pan painting” *, buttoning, wringing outwash cloths/sponges, nuts and bolts and the list can go on!  What fun activities have you tried?

*Pie pan painting: place a piece of paper in a pan with a rim on it (pie pan or round cake pan).  Dip a marble or marbles in washable paint.  Place the marbles in the pan encouraging the child to tilt the pan in various directions, creating an abstract painting.  For kindergarten and up there is a game called TracKit which uses this concept to help teach letters, numbers, etc. using a ball bearing slider ( Its challenging but fun!!!!

Scissor Skills: Stability before Mobility

One rule to remember when you are preparing a child to do fine motor work such as using scissors, is “stability before mobility”.  We all need to feel like we are not going to fall before we put our hands out to use tools.  Encourage a “safe” feeling by placing a child in a chair that fits (feet flat on the floor) and at a table which fits (top should be two inches above his bent elbow).  Encourage a “safe” feel by working in sitting on the floor.  Try this interesting trick to see how it feels to fell “unsafe”.  Sit in a chair of your choice.  Scoot to the edge of the chair and pick up your feet to the point they are not touching the floor.  Do not lean back in the chair (for support) and put your arms and hands out in front of you as if to write or use scissors.  Pretty hard to do!  You are not stable!  So please remember before you put the scissors in your child’s hands to “stabilize” first!

Teaching Scissor Skills

During my recent workshops, the subject of how to teach scissor usage repeatedly came up.  I would love your input as we discuss the numerous skills needed for the actual use of scissors!  These are the ones I could think of!  Can you think of more?  We will take time to discuss these in my next blogs!

  1. Good posture: Stability before mobility
  2. Use of two hands together
  3. Strong hands
  4. Interest in scissor usage
  5. Concept of open and shut
  6. Equipment: types of scissors, practice “stuff”, paper weight

Isaiah 55:12

Handwriting Questions

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Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R