Cutting with Scissors: The Best Tips for Teaching Kids


Is cutting with scissors difficult for some of your kids?  Find tips and ideas and basic steps to help develop the skills needed for successful cutting with scissors.

cutting with scissors

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Required Skills

Kids need to develop their fine motor skills and hands strength before they are ready to begin using scissors.  The good news is that there are all kinds of fine motor activities that can help your kids get ready to use scissors.

Fine Motor & Bilateral Coordination

When we use scissors, we use both hands.  I’m right-handed, so I use my left hand to hold the paper as I use the scissors with my right hand.  Activities, where kids use both hands together, will help them build the bilateral coordination need for cutting.

bilateral activities to help prepare for cutting

Here are some activity ideas.

Grasp & Release Motion

Think about how your hands work when you use scissors.  You use an open-close motion.  Kids need to practice working on this motion.

teach the open close cutting action

Here are some tools that will help your kids practice and master this motion.

  • squishing and forming creations with playdough
  • large tweezers
  • salad tongs
  • bug catchers
  • training chopsticks
  • turkey baster or eyedropper
  • spray bottles
  • clothespin activities
  • stapler or hole punch activities

Scissor Safety

Many parents and teachers can tell stories about kids using inappropriately.  I didn’t cut my own hair….I cut my sister’s hair.

Be sure to set clear rules when you introduce scissors to your kids.  This will help you prevent inappropriate use and will help your kids be safe.

  • Use scissors in a designated area.
  • Only cut approved materials.
  • Remain seated while cutting.
  • When carrying scissors, walk & hold the blades down.

The Best Scissors for Beginners

If you are looking for the best scissors for preschoolers you SHOULD NOT just go out and buy the least expensive scissors out there.  A good pair of scissors is sharp enough to cut easily through a variety of materials and will reduce frustration for your kids.  Select a pair with a large finger loop on one side and a smaller finger loop for the thumb on the other.

appropriate scissors for young kids

Fiskars makes good, quality scissors for kids.  Scissors with blunt tips are safer for beginners than those with pointed tips.

If you have a child who is having difficulty with the open-close motion, try a pair of training scissors or adaptive scissors.  Both will automatically spring open after your child closes the blades to make a cut.

Holding Scissors Correctly – Using an appropriate Grasp

From the very beginning, encourage your kids to point their thumb up when they cut.  Sometimes kids need a little reminder…a visual or verbal cue.

how to teach kids to hold scissors properly

Here are some ideas that will help kids with holding scissors correctly:

  • Draw a smiley face on their thumbnail.
  • Add a tiny sticker or dot on their thumbnail.
  • Place a sticker on the outside of the scissor thumb loop.
  • Add googly eyes to the outside of the scissor thumb loop
  • Wrap a piece of washi tape or bright tape around the thumb loop
  • “My thumb looks at the sun” (it almost rhymes)


So, now that your kids are ready to work on scissor skills, where do they begin?  The first stage of learning to cut is snipping.  Kids can make a small single cut through a piece of paper.  Give kids a variety of materials to snip into.

They will find it easier to snip fringe-like cuts into a thicker piece of paper rather than a thin piece of paper.

  • cardstock
  • greeting cards
  • junk mail and envelopes
  • paper plates
  • fun scrapbook paper
  • wrapping paper
  • foil

At this point, kids also enjoy snipping completely through a strip of paper.  Remember, that the strip should be thin enough that they can cut through with one snip of the scissors.

how to teach kids to cut with scissors

Your kids can create artwork with the snipped strips. Check out these super simple cutting and pasting activities.

In addition to paper, your kids might enjoy scissor practice as they snip through some of these materials:

  • coils of playdough
  • straws
  • ribbon
  • tape
  • herbs (a great sensory experience too!)
  • leaves, small twigs, straw, etc.

Cutting on Lines

When kids master snipping, they can work on cutting lines.  Start with a thick straight line across a piece of paper.  Demonstrate how to move the scissors forward to make additional cuts on (or nearly) on the line.  In the beginning, you might need to show them where to place their other hand to hold the paper.

teach kids to cut on a line

Now that they are comfortable cutting straight lines, you can create more challenging lines for them to cut.  Try gentle curves, zig-zags, waves, and spirals

Finally, kids can work on cutting out simple shapes and then move onto more complex shapes.

Free Scissor Skills Printable

Do you want a free printable to help your kids work on their scissor skills?   Complete the form on THIS PAGE and I will set you up to receive weekly ideas for Early Learning Ideas….AND I’ll send a set of ocean-themed fine motor printables (that includes scissor skills pages) directly to your inbox.

Cutting Practice Resources in the Store

Get even more scissor skills and fine motor printables in the store.  Click on the images below to check them out.

fold and cut activities to practice scissor skills
easy cut and paste activities for kids
fine motor skills activities for preschoolers includes hole punch activities, scissor cutting practice, pre-writing strokes and tracing lines practice, and pincer grasp activities fine motor mats.
fine motor scissor skills and cutting practice activities for preschool and kindergarten
cutting practice task cards

Purchase The Cutting Practice Resources on TPT

Do you prefer to shop at Teachers Pay Teachers? You can also purchase the cutting printables on TPT?

Additional Articles About Scissor Skills and Cutting Activities