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YES, Your kid can cut!

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

Don't be afraid of handing the scissors over! Get your kids cutting safely while putting your mind at ease. Check out these 3 tips to make independent cutters.

Feel Like watching instead of reading? This quick video has all the tips and tricks I talk about in the blog!

Before running CURIO I was an elementary art teacher in a public school for 10 years specializing in teaching little artists ages K-6. One thing I noticed was how our kindergarteners were coming in each school year with less and less fine motor skill practice. When it would come time to cut paper I would ask students if they had ever used scissors before. A lot would say "No, my parents don't let me use scissors." Wow! Talk about a tough job, teaching 20 kindergartners all at different levels to make an art project while some have never used scissors, yikes! Their answers got me thinking about my own kids. Do I let my own kids use scissors? Hmm...Wow, some art teacher I am, I had never even worked with my own kids to use scissors! Why? I don't know! Maybe I didn't feel like I had the time? (Do we ever have enough time in the day?) Maybe I thought it was something preschool would cover? (Sorry!) Or maybe I was waiting for them the be mature enough? ( long will that take?) Either way I actually realized that my own 3 year old could slice fruit with a sword on Fruit Ninja but never used scissors in real life! Well...I put a stop to that and decided that she was going to start to learn how to use scissors! I was a nervous wreck with no game plan and just kept repeating, "Watch your fingers...look out for your fingers...careful, your fingers!" After the first lesson (which was enough to make me want to give up right there) I sat down and put my thinking cap on and figured out a way that I could teach her in a more hands off approach. I would teach a skill, then let her practice at her own pace. I would check in, instead of hovering , and...I found success!! If you want to give your kids an activity that they enjoy AND can learn from at the same time, then follow these 3 tips to help you get those little ones using scissors in a safe way.

Tip #1 - Playdoh Scissors: Build Their Hand Strength

We all know that a child's hand is fast and somehow incredibly strong. You know what isn't strong though? A childs ability to open their hand back up as strongly as they closed it. THAT is the tough part of cutting. The best tool to build that hand strength? Play Doh Scissors! They have a safe rounded tip, they are lightweight, they don't have sharp metal, and they normally come in pretty cute colors. Snag yourself a play doh kit with scissors and let your child cut doh! Are you a parent that doesn't let play doh in your home because of all the crumbled pieces? Same! I actually prefer using model magic or creatibles air dry clay. It doesn't crumble, stays usable for longer, and is WAY cleaner than regular play doh. Have your child work on moving the scissors up and down to build strength and control. Toss in a rhyme like "Open Shut, Open Shut, that's the way we cut, cut, cut and you will feel like Mary Poppins leading your kid to scissor success. Want to lend a helping hand? Roll the clay into a coil/snake shape and let them cut. Props if you can even teach them how to do it on their own! It is fun for them to snip off pieces from the rope of clay and it also builds their eye hand coordination too!

Tip #2 - Pre-Cut Strips: Build Their Confidence

Once you feel like they are opening and closing scissors successfully, take it to the next level and make the leap into real scissors and paper strips. Don't give your child a whole piece of paper and tell them to cut something out. That is too overwhelming and they will get discouraged because it doesn't "look right." Start off by cutting a sheet of paper into 1" or thinner strips. Then have your child, in one open and close motion, cut right through the strip and make a little square shape like confetti. They will be able to do it all on their own and be SUPER excited that they can use scissors. Show them to hold their hand down at the bottom of the strip and cut near the top so they have plenty of room and no little fingers will be injured while practicing.

PRO TIP: Have them cut all of these pieces into a brown paper bag because BELIEVE me, you don't want to clean up the mess, AND you know they won't help you. This way all the little pieces are contained for easy cleaning!

*IF you have an older child at home, have them cut the strips instead of you. Now both kids are engaged...Boom!

"With confidence, you have won before you have started.” – Marcus Garvey"

Tip #3 - Make a project: Build Their Creativity

As my own children get older I notice it is harder and harder to have them use their creativity in the real world. They would sit and play Minecraft for hours which is creative yes, but not in the physical world. Everyday, I feel as though I fight an uphill battle to find things that are engaging without a screen. Try and engage them in making something with all of the things they have cut. Or encourage them to cut something new for a fun creative project!

Once that kiddo is rocking out the confetti snips, move them to cutting the whole strip, then move them to following a different line, then a shape. Keep adding and see what they are capable of making with all those strips, shapes, and snips!

By learning to use scissors you have opened them up to a whole new level of art making. So let them take it and run with it! Kids always love to cut paper and glue them down in all different ways. They may even start to get different supplies and add to their paper creations! Welcome to educating your child in the art of collage and mixed media you sophisticated parent! Age appropriate art does't look "cookie cutter perfect." At a young age they should be learning a process, and making art through that process or newly learned skill. It may not look like anything you would make, but if they are engaged and happy with their creation, praise them up and down and ask them to tell you all about it!

Kids LOVE to talk about their art!

Not sure where to start with a paper project? Follow along with this video we created last year around the holidays. It's easy, creative, and fun for all age levels!

Teaching your child a new skill can be HARD. When the skill includes a sharp object like scissors, it can be even more scary and confusing on where to start. Try out the first tip and see where it takes you. Remember some kids will move through things slowly and some quickly. In a world where everything happens fast, take it slow. There is no race to the finish. If your child cuts play doh for a long time, let them go. Let them learn through art making. Let their brains fire on all cylinders in a way that it doesn't get a chance to all the time. Let them be kids and learn through play. Try out the tips and let's hear the feed back! How did the tips work for you and your family? What other tips do you have to share that would help out other families? Don't be scared of showing your kids scissors, instead, teach them how to enter a new world of creativity and possibilities.

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