Scissors Skills for Children
“An environment for creative art work is provided by planning the place and the materials, by teaching simple skills, and by accepting and motivating children.”
—Regina Barnett, Let Out the Sunshine
Scissors for Children
A Montessori Approach to Creative Activities: We all know how young children love cutting with scissors, sometimes even cutting hair,clothing, and other important items. That’s one of the reasons why, in the Montessori primary classroom, we acquaint young children with the proper use of scissors and help them develop basic cutting skills.Preparing the Hand Before using scissors, children need sufficient hand and finger strength. Exercises
that help prepare the hand include many Practical Life activities such as pinching clothespins, basting, tonging, and wringing out sponges. Other classroom activities that develop coordination and hand strength include grasping the pieces of the Pink Tower and using the pincer grip to pick up knobbed materials.
Using Scissors: The First Lesson For the initial presentation, use narrow blank strips of stiff paper ½” wide by 6-8″ long.Strips made from cardstock or file cards work well. If the child prefers using her left hand, be sure to offer her left-handed scissors.Present the scissors activities at a tableto an individual child.Demonstrate how to carry and store scissors.Explain that the blades are sharp and great care is needed when cutting. Demonstrate how to hold the scissors and how to use them to cut the paper strip in one snip.Continue cutting, allowing the pieces to fall into a basket.Scissors Skills for Children
Help the child place her thumb and first two fingers into the handle of the scissors. Encourage her to practice opening and closing the blades.As she opens the blades, assist by moving the strip of paper between the blades.As she closes the blades, the scissors cut the strip. Allow the child to hold both the paper strip and the scissors as soon as she wants to.Many Uses for Cut Paper The cut pieces could also be recycled,put into a basket for art work (collage), or used for carpet sweeping work. Recently I observed a four-year -old who was completely absorbed in cutting strips of paper. After putting that work away, he took out a rug and sprinkled the cut pieces onto the rug.Then he got out the carpet sweeper and swept up all of the pieces. Advanced Activities When children have repeated and mastered cutting a ½” wide strip of paper with one snip, they can move on to more challenging activities to develop and refine their skills. Templates are available to create many of these activities.
Children can cut:
wider blank strips that require two snips
narrow strips with printed lines to cut on
vertical, then diagonal curved lines, such as a half circle, circle, spiral
folded paper to make snowflakes, hearts
layers of tissue paper patterns for pinwheels, envelopes,
Chinese lanterns, cubes (which require cutting, folding, and gluing).