Watching my four year old struggle to use scissors takes every ounce of my self-control not to take the scissors from him and do it myself. He holds them awkwardly, the scissors often don’t make it all the way through the paper, and cutting along the lines? Not a chance. It’s so ragged and so crooked it makes my teeth hurt. It’s hard to believe I lasted two years as a preschool teacher.
Recently though, while chatting with Mr. M’s own preschool teachers about his supreme efforts (and often extreme frustration) with using scissors, I remembered the cutting tray I had made for Miss M when she was at that stage.
This is a super simple, supervised, activity that will go miles towards increasing your child’s comfort level with scissors. Another bonus is that it turns learning how to use scissors from a chore into something fun.
Making a cutting tray is easy and you probably have most of the things you’ll need around the house already.
Grab a veggie and dip tray – if you don’t have one already, your local grocery store will either sell you one of theirs from the produce section for a cheap price, or just buy a tray full of veggies and have snack first!
Gather several types of materials that feel different to cut. Our favourites are straws (they kind of pop when cut), felt, card stock, coffee filters, ribbon, and corrugated cardboard. Really, anything will do as long as it’s not too difficult to cut so they don’t get discouraged.
Cut them into smaller pieces to increase the success rate and make it easier for little hands to manage and put one of each type of material into each section. Add a couple pairs of blunt tip scissors to the centre of the tray and you’re all set.
Discuss safety rules with kids for using scissors and encourage them to cut into the sections of the tray to minimize mess (or just be less OCD than I and sweep it up afterwards).
Show them the proper way to hold the scissors, but don’t keep correcting them while they’re learning – the idea of this activity is to have them become comfortable with the tool first and understand how it works, and have fun with scissors so they don’t see using them as a chore. Fine tuning the proper technique can come later.