Are you looking for a simple, easy-to-set-up activity that is fun and developmentally beneficial? How about a quick cutting activity to help children build fine motor skills and small muscles in their hands and fingers?
Scissor cutting can support the development of pencil grip and handwriting skills. In her article, Scissor Cutting FAQ, Tracey le Roux, a pediatric occupational therapist, shares that cutting with scissors will give little fingers practice in working together, especially the thumb, middle, and index fingers, all of which are used in proper pencil grip. Scissor cutting also helps to strengthen muscles in hands and strengthen the visual-motor skills that are foundational to handwriting.
Cutting also helps children to practice another very important skill: bilateral coordination. Vanessa Levin of Pre-K Pages explains that “Bilateral coordination involves using both sides of the body at the same time while each hand is performing different tasks. For example, to cut a square, the child must hold the paper with one hand and turn it while the other hand is not only opening and closing the scissors but also moving along the line.”
Setting Up a Cutting Station
An invitation to practice cutting skills does not need to be complex. Simply offering children something to cut, a pair of scissors, and a tray or bowl (to catch loose pieces) are all you need! You can have printables ready with lines for children to practice cutting along. Or, you can use recycled scraps of paper or other leftover art supplies.
See the list below for ideas to get started.
Cutting with Recycled Paper – One of the easiest activities to set up is a simple cutting activity with recycled scraps of paper. Whether you have scraps leftover from a previous art project, or you have some magazines that are waiting to be recycled, this is a great way to use some of the extra paper without letting it go to waste!
Free Cutting Printables from Teachers Pay Teachers – There are several free sheets available to help children practice skills. These are great options if you would like to encourage children to work on something more specific, such as cutting straight lines or working with small pieces from paper strips. These can also be printed on colored sheets of paper for more variety!
Ribbon Cutting – If you happen to have scraps of small pieces of string or ribbon, can be transformed into fun scissor-skill materials.
Cutting Rainbow Straws – Plastic straws are fun to hold, colorful, and offer a unique cutting practice challenge.
Cutting Paint Chip Samples – Paint Chip Samples are free to pick up at your local hardware store and have perfectly placed white lines so that children know exactly where to cut!
Nature Cutting Tray – Using leaves, grass clippings, and flowers is a great option for free materials! Go for a walk to collect nature items, and then set them up on a tray with scissors for children to work on their cutting skills. This activity is best for older preschoolers, or those with more experience and confidence using scissors. The pieces can be small and they require careful focus and manipulation to cut successfully.
As a bonus – If you are looking for something to do with all of the small cut-up pieces of paper and art materials after children are done cutting, they can be transformed into a beautiful and colorful collage!