Scissor Skill Development

Friday, May 13, 2011 by Courtney Stanley

A pediatric occupational therapist at Child and Family Development works on helping to develop your child's scissor skills. 

Children can snip with scissors by 2-2 1/2 years of age. Remember to use safety scissors! By 4-5 years of age, a child should be able to cut out simple, basic shapes such as a circle or square.

In order to learn how to cut, you must master the following:

  • balance
  • shoulder stability
  • forearm control
  • wrist stability
  • grasping skills
  • finger isolation
  • accurate release
  • 2 hand usage
  • eye-hand coordination
Progression of scissor skill development:
  1. able to hold and manipulate scissors appropriately
  2. short random snips
  3. manipulate scissors in forward motion
  4. stay within lines (wider lines first, narrower when more control is gained)
  5. cutting shapes with straight lines
  6. cutting shapes with curved lines

Activities to work on scissors skills:

  • cut with thicker materials that are less likely to bend and tear and that will add resistance and feedback so the child can really feel what he/she is doing
    • index cards, post cards, construction paper, foam, brown paper bags, junk mail!
  • cut drinking stras, string them to make necklaces
  • cut playdoh - make snakes and cut into chunks
  • give your preschooler a pair of safety scissors and an old toy magazine and let them cut out their his/her favorite toys
  • Use squirt bottles, squirt toys, water guns, turkey basters, tongs, and hole punchers to practice the hand grasp and motions needed for cutting with scissors
Correct scissor grasp: the index finger is used to stabilze the scissors. The middle and ring fingers are used to open and shut the scissors. The thumb is up and the wrist straight.

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