5 Playful ways to practice scissor skills

The following post is by contributor Amy Anderson of Let’s Explore.

Scissors can be a tricky tool for kids to master. Playful, open-ended scissor activities are naturally inviting to kids, and can lessen feelings of frustration for scissor-newbies. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect – the best way to improve scissor skills is lots of scissor practice.

Tips for success:

• Model the correct way to hold scissors, with lots of gentle reminders. Show your child how to hold the scissors with his elbows close to his body, and his hand turned so the thumb is on top.

• A quality pair of kid scissors is important, too. Nothing is more frustrating than scissors that won’t cut!

• Offer a wide variety of inviting materials and activities for scissor work, and let your child play and experiment.

Here are five simple ways to practice scissor skills and have fun, too:

1. Start with a Hole Punch

Some kids find a hole punch easier to master than scissors. While punching zillions of holes in colored paper and magazine pages, your child is building hand strength and coordination. Just keep the broom or vacuum handy!

One of our favorite hole punching activities is punching holes all around a paper plate, then doing some freestyle sewing with colorful yarn through the holes.

2. Fringe

With a few snips, green paper turns into grass and yellow paper turns into a lion’s mane. Offer your child 2-4″ strips of paper and show her how to make a cut almost all the way across, but not quite. Keep cutting until you’ve turned your whole strip into fringe.

Glue the fringe pieces on a picture or collage. You can even roll each piece of fringe around a pencil or your finger to make them curl and coil.

scissor practice cutting fringe
Photo by Amy Anderson

3. Play Dough

We have a couple pairs of scissors that live in the play dough tool basket. Play dough’s soft texture makes it easy to cut, plus it’s a nice variation from paper cutting.

When my girls were first learning how to use scissors, I would roll snake after snake with play dough, and the girls would cut them into pieces. Try rolling out pancakes and cutting those, too.

4. Plastic Straws

All the kids at my girls’ preschool loved it when the sensory bin was filled with plastic straws, scissors, and lacing string. Straws are fun and easy to snip, plus sometimes the pieces fly across the room when you cut them. Fun, right?

When your child is finished cutting, gather up all the straw pieces and string them on yarn for colorful necklaces (and more finger work!).

scissor practice with straws
Photo by Amy Anderson

5. Paper Strips & Sticky Contact Paper

Strips of colorful paper are fun to snip, but what do you do with all those tiny pieces? Try taping a piece of clear Contact paper, sticky side up, on the table. Then your child can cut skinny paper strips, letting the confetti pieces fall right onto the sticky surface. Add another piece of clear Contact paper over the top, and you’ve got a piece of artwork to hang in the window!

Even more scissor fun:

More things to cut:

  • photographs
  • index cards
  • pictures from magazines and catalogs
  • colored tape
  • fabric scraps
  • sandpaper
  • craft foam sheets
  • old drawings or paintings
  • coloring book pages

Scissor Practice Box :: Pink and Green Mama

Preschool Haircut Craft :: Jen Spends

Flubber Slime Baskets :: Juggling With Kids

Are your kids scissor-newbies or scissor-pros? Do you have a favorite scissor practice idea or activity to share?

25+ Playful Preschool ActivitiesAre you looking for more ways to play and learn with your preschooler? The ebook Three to Five: Playful Preschool might be just what you’re looking for. Filled with ideas for creative, hands-on learning with math, science, and language skill builders plus art and play, too this ebook includes 10 printable resources and is available here.

About AmyA

At her blog, Let’s Explore, Amy shares her family’s experiences creating, imagining, and playing together. You can read about her homeschooling journey at Early Bird Homeschool.

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  1. These are some great tips! I had not thought about the straws, but my kids would totally love that. My son is very into scissors and my daughter wants to be so I will be using some of these tips with her!
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau´s latest post: The Successful Passing of the Baton

  2. We haven’t done much with scissors but my daughter is very interested so these are great ideas. Thanks.
    Steph´s latest post: What I Don’t Do

  3. Just this week my daughter has become obsessed with using scissors. Any recommendations for kid friendly pairs?

  4. I used to work with some OTs, who always reminded “thumbs up, thumbs up!” to the kids when they were cutting.
    Thumb on top of the scissor hand, AND thumb on top of the paper-holding hand. Apparently the other half of the process of learning to cut properly is to make sure the kidlets are holding the paper/card correctly as well.
    Emily @ playtalklearn´s latest post: Week of Words… 27th August

  5. These ideas are great! I recently introduced my daughter to scissors, and we’re working on things for her fine motor skills. Hopefully by next year she’ll be able to write when she learns to read.
    I also love how realistic you are about the mess with hole punch and flying straw pieces.
    Some craft ideas I read about have me going “Are you for real?”. No mention of the cleanup afterward?

  6. I love all of these ideas! I will be bookmarking this for ideas when I am teaching at a co-op preschool! I too use play-dough for cutting practice with my 2 year old. 🙂
    Debbye´s latest post: How Potty Training Affects Sleep

  7. Yes, good quality scissors and the right position are keys, otherwise the little ones get easily frustrated! I adapted #4 for boys (because necklaces are so for girls) by saying we’re making a mean and long snake. Thanks for the fun projects!
    Smithereens´s latest post: Catel & Bocquet, Olympe de Gouges (French, 2012)

  8. My daughter love doing new things for her collection. These scissor skills i will try with her.


  1. […] motor skills practice: 5 Playful ways to practice scissor skills at Simple […]

  2. […] 5 Playful Ways to Practice Scissor Skills at Simple Kids […]

  3. […] Let the kids practice their scissor skills by cutting up straws for a necklace or by making fringe for a lion like the one found on Simply Kids. […]