Developing scissor skills~ one SNIP! at a time

Developing scissor skills~ one SNIP! at a time

Practicing pre-cutting skills will develop fine motor finesse.

Nothing makes a preschooler more excited than a chance to grab a pair of scissors and cut, cut, cut. Many preschoolers never touch scissors before entering preschools. It seems parents prefer to leave scissor lessons to “the experts.” But when it comes to preschoolers, successful scissor skills do NOT begin with cutting out a recognizable heart. In fact, long before preschoolers try scissors, they need practice with pre-cutting skills. Each pre-cutting activity strengthens their fingers and develops stronger fine motor skills. Every child entering kindergarten is expected to be prepared to “write” as they begin formal education. Preschoolers need plenty of pre-cutting practice to prepare for kindergarten!

children in art class

Did you realize there is a natural progression to developing successful scissor skills? Learning to cut with scissors is a necessary developmental pre-writing skill.

We, at TLLeague, believe the first pre-cutting skill is paper “scrunching.” A pile of recycled paper to be “balled up” like a snowball is work for the young child. The squeezing and flexing of the fingers is an opportunity for the child to strengthen their grip for a future of pencils, pens and keyboards. Vanessa Levin, early childhood expert at Pre-K Pages, suggests ripping is the first stage of developing pre-cutting skills.


When children are given scissors, the next stages include hours of snipping and fringe cutting. Over time, their fingers become stronger and their ability to grip and cut with accuracy develops. Eventually children begin to use scissors to cut straight lines, zig-zags and finally in a shape such as a circle or a heart.

Do not wait until preschool to let young children practice cutting skills. Mom, Dad, or grandparents are able to offer plenty of opportunities to practice pre-cutting skills at home. Create a cutting box made from a recycled cardboard soda holder. Fill the box with assorted width and thickness of recycled cards, coupons, newspaper and construction paper. After spending some time scrunching, ripping and tearing paper, introduce a pair of age-appropriate scissors. Make sure there is an adult in the room to supervise. Supervised scissor play keeps the snips under control! Try your hand at scrunching, snipping and cutting. Young children engage longer when they practice the skill with a friend. Later, add scotch tape, stickers, stapler and/or envelopes to the box. Each of these items creates hours of creative play, problem-solving, and the development of stronger fine-motor skills.

Successful pre-cutting begins at home!

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