10 Easy Preschool Cutting Activities with things that you have at home. Plus tips Occupational Therapists use when teaching scissor cutting skills!
Cutting is an activity that preschoolers LOVE to do! Because they love it SO much, this is the age that you will often hear about the misfortunate cutting incidents that usually involve hair, clothing, favorite toys, sibling’s hair, and anything else in between!
Being a Mom of 4 kids and a school based Occupational Therapist for 15+ years, I have seen a lot of very enthusiastic kids want to cut! I honestly can’t think of one kid who didn’t want to cut with scissors.
That’s why having a bank of preschool cutting activities is a great time saver!
Are Kid Scissors REALLY Necessary for Cutting Skills?
Simply put, kid scissors are smaller and not as sharp. Because they are smaller all over, kid’s fingers fit better in the holes. As a result, their fingers push the blades open and shut more efficiently. Being smaller in size also helps make it easier for kiddos to align the scissor blade to the cutting line.
Teaching cutting skills, I like to start kids with loop scissors. I like that they are self opening and that the kiddo only needs to focus on closing the scissors at first and then relaxing their hand for the scissors to open again.
Don’t have scissors, don’t want to buy a pair, but still want to work on scissor skills? Here are activities that work on scissor skills without scissors!
Preschool Cutting Activity Tips from an Occupational Therapist
The purpose of cutting activities, especially in preschool, is to learn how to cut:
- While holding and using scissors correctly
- And hold the paper correctly with the helper hand
- Across a piece of paper
- On a line
- Out a basic shape
There are a lot of resources on the internet for cutting activities. But a lot of them show kids using the wrong hand position for cutting.
When working on cutting activities with preschoolers the position of their scissors and their helper hand is so important. It lays the foundation for more complex cutting tasks and overall safety.
When your kiddo is cutting help them learn the right way by following these tips!
- Hold Scissors Correctly: the thumb goes in the little whole and the other fingers go in the big hole. Or if your kiddo needs more control, have them place their pointer finger outside of the big hole like the picture below.
- Cut away from your body NOT across your body
- Helper hand holds the paper with its thumb up
- Paper is held in the air NOT down on the table
10 Preschool Cutting Activities
# 1. Play Dough –
Play dough is a great fine motor activity that strengthens hands just by playing with it! If you are in need of a great DIY play dough recipe this one is my favorite by far!
Have your kiddos roll it out into about 1/4 to 1/2 inch logs. Then cut with scissors multiple times!
Play dough offers some resistance when being cut which will help strengthen the muscles for cutting. If it’s too hard, make the log even skinner!
# 2. Toilet Paper Roll Cutting Activities-
Toilet paper rolls are great for cutting activities and the ideas are endless!
The paper is thicker and may be hard for some kiddos to cut through. If your kiddo is still working on building their hand strength, then snipping at the top would be a good place to start.
- Snip the top to make hair and turn it into a funny face!
- Snip one side and turn it into a rocket!
- Simply cut across to open it – If your kiddo is working on cutting lines, straight and zig-zag lines work great!
# 3. Straws-
Plastic straws work better than paper straws because they do not collapse when they are cut. They are also easier to cut for kids who are just starting to learn this skill.
Kids love to cut straws because they are unpredictable when you cut them! A cut straw can fly a few feet away when cut just right!
My favorite position for kids to cut straws is lying on their stomach. It helps them use their hands in the correct position. After they cut the straws, have them string them onto a pipe cleaner or a shoelace to make a bracelet or necklace.
# 4. Paper Plates –
Paper plates are generally thicker than regular paper, which makes them great for beginners! Regular paper will bend or fold if the kiddo is not holding it the right way.
It is also easier to tear, which is what kids will do as they are learning to move the scissors forward.
Have your kiddo make short cuts, or snips, all around the edge of the plate to make it a flower or a lion!
# 5. Dixie Cups-
These bathroom cups make great flowers! Cut into the cup to the bottom several times. Then fold back each cut piece to make the petals of the flower. Add a stem by stapling a straw or piece of paper to the back.
# 6. Holiday or Greeting Cards-
Keep special occasion cards as they make for great cutting activities! Cards tend to be thicker and have fun and different pictures on them!
You can draw lines on one side to cut out and then have your kids put it back together like a puzzle.
Or pick a category to look for and cut it out and glue it on another piece of paper. Examples would be a specific color, balloons, flowers, toys, etc.
# 7. Index Cards with Stickers or Basic Drawing on It-
Place a sticker, several stickers or a drawing on an index card. Draw a line from the edge of the card through the sticker/drawing. Or Draw a line from the edge of the card to the edge of the sticker to work on cutting up to a certain point and not just straight through!
If you cut through the sticker, try to match the two sides to put it back together.
# 8. Party Streamers-
Tape party streamers to a table and have them hang down to the floor. See if you can cut it in the middle all the way to the top!
If your kiddo likes to rush while cutting, this is going to be tricky! The party streamers are easy to tear.
# 9. Paint Color Swatches-
Paint color swatches are great for kids just starting to cut because they are not too wide! The paper is also thicker than standard paper so that it will not be flimsy.
Color swatches already have a white line to cut or turn them over and draw your own lines to cut! Glue the pieces onto a piece of paper to make a picture or sort by color!
# 10. Snack Box Containers-
I love having my kids cut snack box containers. The material is thicker than standard paper and it already is on its way to the recycling bin so cutting it is perfect!
Draw lines on the back of the box and have your kiddo cut it out! If your kiddo is just learning how to cut, keep the lines straight. But if they are working on moving beyond straight lines, draw zig-zag, and curved lines!
A Preschool Cutting Common Complaint: My scissors are NOT cutting!
There can be several reasons why scissors are not cutting. And it might have nothing to do with the sharpness of the blades.
Make sure that your kiddo is keeping their hand positioned with their thumb up.
As your kiddo uses their scissors for crafts, glue can buildup on them. This will cause the scissor blades to start sticking together and make cutting harder. To stop this, wipe the blades clean every once in a while with a degreaser.
Check to see if there is a gap between the two blades. Over time and scissors being dropped or used to cut something too hard, the blades can bend. If a blade bends away from the other blade, it will not cut paper easily.
Which of the Preschool Cutting Activities Are You Going To Do?
Let me know which activity you and your kiddo do and how it turns out!
My best advice is to start with a cutting activity that your kiddo can do, even if that means not finishing the activity to what you think is complete.
Also keep in mind, “Process not Product“. At the end, it does not matter what the product looks like if your kiddo learned something through the process. After skills are mastered, is when you begin focusing on the end product.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I am sure that you are not the only one with the same question! I read all comments and would love to hear from you!
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Kelly is a licensed Occupational Therapist with 15 years of experience servicing school-aged children and Early Intervention. She is the founder of OT Perspective and a mom to 4 children. To learn more about her, check out her About Me page, here.