A scissor skill activity for toddlers? WHAT? “I’m not giving my toddler scissors!” I know mom, it’s a scary skill to learn but did you know that kids should be learning scissor skills way before Kindergarten? This skill can be challenging to learn and it would be beneficial to have lots of practice before school. Skills are way more fun to “practice” when creating something, so Aliza and I spent some time practicing by cutting out paper to make our silly monster hat!
Scissors for Toddlers
Do not fear, handing over a pair of scissors to your toddler can be safe! There are two different scissors you can use that will NOT hurt your little one!
- Training scissors with SAFE blades (LINK): These are the ones we use. They look just like real scissors but they ONLY cut paper. The safe blades will not cut skin, clothes or hair! The safety lock prevents them from pinching their fingers and also assists with opening and closing the scissors after each cut. These scissors are great to introduce to your little ones to have them start practicing their cutting skills on paper!
- Safety Training Arts and Craft Scissors: These scissors are just as great but look less scary without the blades. They also have a safety lock feature that prevents pinching and assists with opening and closing. These scissors don’t cut skin, hair or clothes, ONLY paper! These are great to use when cutting play-doh. Roll your play-doh out like a snake and start cutting your snake into bite size pieces.
To be honest, learning to cut is HARD! I am not going to sugarcoat it. Cutting is a skill that requires hand-eye coordination, shoulder stability strength, hand strength, cognitive and precision skills. Skills that take a while for kids to master. That’s why starting early is important!
What is so hard about cutting?
- A toddler has tiny hands, which makes it hard to hold a pair of scissors correctly. Finger isolation is important when learning to hold scissors because they need the ability to move their fingers separately along with learning how to hold their arm and wrist.
- Not only is holding a pair of scissors hard but learning how to open and close those fingers to cut takes a lot of focus and precision.
- Learning to hold the paper with one hand, manipulating the scissors with the other, all while cutting a straight line takes a lot of brain power!
How to improve your child’s cutting skills
Fine motor skills and cutting go hand in hand. In order to master fine motor skills and cutting you must begin from the top, down.
- Shoulder strength
- Elbow and forearm rotation
- Wrist stability
- Fine motor movements
Positioning: Ever heard of the 90-90-90 rule. Hip, knees and ankle joints should all be in 90 degrees. It is EXTREMELY important to have them work at a table that is properly sized for them. The table should not be up to their armpits, they need to have their arms hanging down a little. If they are working at the kitchen table, place a booster seat under them.
Shoulder stability: This is the ability to keep your shoulder still while moving your fingers. Kids who do not have the full strength in their shoulder have a hard time cutting. They start to compensate for this and end up cutting in an odd position. If you notice your little one holding out their elbow to cut this is due to poor shoulder stability. Try having them hold a card board or piece of paper under their arm and cut this way. This will automatically put their arm in the right position.
Forearm rotation: Naturally, you will see kids tilt their scissors or turn them upside down because it is more comfortable for them to use their hands with their palms down (Pronated). As their fine motor skills continue to develop they will be able to use their hands in the correct cutting position. Once they have the correct body and arm position they are ready to move on to the fine motor portion of using scissors.
**Aliza independently cutting^^. Notice her elbow elevated to the side and her forearm pronated with her palm facing down. This is commonly seen in kids her age. We will continue to work on shoulder stability and cutting with hand over hand assistance.**
Finger isolation: Learning to open and close fingers while cutting will take time. Practicing finger songs like the itsy-bitsy spider or counting numbers on fingers can help practice isolating finger motions. Using the scissors with the safety latch helps promote this motion as well!
Silly Monster Hat
For this activity we cut out several pieces of construction paper and ribbon. I helped Aliza cut out each piece. To begin, I placed her at a table that she would be sitting in 90-90-90 angel. With hand over hand assistance I helped her cut. With one hand I put my fingers on top of hers in the scissors and with the other hand we held the piece of paper. We repeatably said “open, close, open, close” as we cut along our paper.
Once she cut the construction paper, I folded the paper back and fourth to give it the crinkled look. I also curled the ribbon using my scissors!
We glued our silly googly eyes to our hat and made a not so scary monster face! We flipped it over and taped all our folded construction paper and ribbon to the inside of the hat!
Aliza said she wants to wear her silly monster hat on Halloween to go trick-or-treating! I think she enjoyed seeing all the paper she cut out turn into something fun! This was such a beneficial and skillful activity to do. I hope you all enjoy this activity and even if you only take one thing from this post make sure it is to start working on those cutting skills. It will be much easier for your child to learn at home with you than in a classroom with 20 other kids!
Don’t forget to check out some of our other Halloween activities including:
- Life size Halloween matching memory game
- Spider stomp painting
- Fluffy pumpkin slime
- No mess pumpkin painting
Stay tuned for one more NOT so scary Halloween Activity, coming soon !
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