How To Use Scissors

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Teaching your child how to use scissors correctly can be a daunting task!

If your child struggles with scissor cutting, take them right back to basics and help them to master each step below.

Learning how to cut with scissors

Learning to cut out basically involves 2 different skills:

  1. mastering the grasp-release motion of the scissors
  2. mastering the art of cutting on a line

On this page, I have broken down the steps to give you lots of ideas to help your child learn how to use scissors effectively.

Just click on the quick links below to jump to the instructions and photos for each step.


Mastering The Grasp-Release Motion

The first stage of learning how to use scissors is to master the grasp-release motion to open and close the scissors.

The fun activities below will help your child get the hang of this motion without using scissors!

1) Using Spray Bottles

Let your child use a spray bottle to water the plants outside or for some bath-time fun.

Squeezing and releasing the trigger helps your child get the hang of a repetitive grasp-release motion with the whole hand.

2) Clothes Pin Activities

Opening and closing a clothes pin (clothes peg in some parts of the world!) can help a child feel the squeeze and release motion that is needed for scissors.

Elsewhere on my site, I use clothes pins to work on isolating the tripod fingers, but if your child is still too young to use just three fingers, let them use these activities with the tips of all their fingers for the grasp-release sensation.

  • Use a clothes pin to pick up bits of crumpled paper or other objects and transfer them to a container.
  • Let your child hang small items of clothing on a line strung at his or her level.
  • Have your child place pegs around an empty egg carton to make a cage for some toy animals.

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Learning To Snip

Once your child has got the hang of the grasp-release motion, you will be ready to teach your child how to use scissors!

Keep these points in mind!

  • Use age appropriate and blunt-nosed scissors, for your child's safety.
  • Make sure your left handed child uses left handed scissors - this is very important!

Make sure your child uses an appropriate scissor grasp.

Thumb in one hole, and middle finger through the other.

The index finger can rest on the outside of the scissors, or be in the same hole as the middle finger.

Read more about the importance of left scissors and a correct scissor grasp over here.


1) Snipping Playdough

Have your child roll out playdough sausages/worms and then snip them.

You can also roll the snipped pieces of playdough into little balls with the tripod fingers as a fun finger exercise.

2) Snipping Paper

Snipping Paper
A Flame Collage Snipping Activity

Prepare narrow strips (1.5cm) of paper so your child can snip across the width.

This is easy to do, as the scissors only need to open and close once to be successful.

Use the snipped paper in a collage.

Snips Around A Circle

You can also have your child make snips around a circle picture, as shown below, or around a paper plate.

Once your child has mastered the single snip across a narrow strip, prepare slightly wider strips (3-4cm across) that require two snips to cut across.

Use the snipped paper in a picture or collage like the one below, that combines single snips with double snips.

Cutting Longer Snips
scissor cutting activity - sun collageA sun collage scissor cutting activity!

If your child absolutely cannot get the hang of how to use scissors with a grasp release motion, you could try a pair of special scissors like these, that automatically open after your child has closed them.

(NB this is an affiliate link and will open in a new window/tab)

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How To Use Scissors Effectively

Now that your child has mastered the grasp-release motion, there are a few tips that can help your child learn to use scissors effectively and efficiently!

Read them all before you help your child learn to cut out on lines!

Here Are Some Important DO's And DON'Ts

DO
DON'T
  • Do encourage your child to hold the paper off the table with the assistant hand. Thumb on top and fingers underneath is the best position for the assistant hand.
  • Discourage your child from holding the paper down on the table.
    Kids with poor bilateral coordination often prefer to hold the paper this way, so the assistant hand does not need to coordinate movement with the cutting hand!


DO
DON'T
  • Do encourage your child to cut around shapes the correct way.
  • Right-handers should cut to the right of the shape, and left-handers should cut to the left of the shape.
  • Doing this will help your child to get the blade of the scissors to stay on the line more effectively and should help your child to cut more smoothly.


DO
DON'T
  • Do encourage your child to start cutting lines on the line furthest from the holding hand.
    This will encourage more efficient cutting as your child will not need to keep picking up the cut-off piece in order to keep cutting!

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Mastering Scissor Cutting

Children master scissor cutting by starting on straight lines before progressing to simple shapes.

My Cutting Activities page will give you a free printable download template for some actual activity ideas; I am just covering the principles here!

1) Cut Lots Of Straight Lines

Start with lots and lots of thick, straight lines on slightly-thicker-than-normal-paper (160-180gm).

 Just keep on being creative with lines until your child masters it. Be inspired by the ideas on the cutting activities page!

2) Cut Lots of Circles and Spirals

Cutting out lots of circles and spirals will help your child to get the hang of moving the paper with the assistant hand while cutting.

I find it really helped to sit behind my child and hand-over-hand help them to get the feel of the smooth movement of turning the paper around.

3) Progress To Simple Shapes

Once your child has got the hang of turning the paper while cutting, then progress to simple shapes.

Your child needs to learn to gauge when to "turn" the corners with the scissors, and how to keep the scissors in the corner while turning. 

Again, cut lots and lots of shapes, be creative with them and use them with lines and circles to make fun crafts.

Don't forget to download your free template!

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What If My Child Still Struggles?

Try and work on those skills as well if you see your child is struggling to learn how to use scissors.

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All my scissor skills information and tips in an easily accessible e-book download!

Comes with a Fun Cutting Template containing cutting activities not found on my site!

If you are looking for lots of printable cutting activities for your child to do, try these fun, affordable, reproducible downloads!

I review them on this page of my site.

Thanks for visiting my site! I hope this page on teaching your child how to use scissors was helpful! If it was, please share or like my page to put the word out! 

› Teach Your Child How To Use Scissors

› Teach Your Child How To Use Scissors



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To help you, I have linked to a few useful products from various suppliers that reflect the activities suggested on this page.
I occasionally receive samples in exchange for an honest review, but the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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