Developing scissor skills is such an important fine motor skill for students to work on in kindergarten. Even before they come to us, students probably have been mastering some skills. Our job then is to fine tune and build on their cutting abilities, so they will be able to use scissors with ease and precision!
Before even starting kindergarten, there are some scissor skills that students have hopefully already been working on, like holding the scissor and paper correctly. With the dominant hand, we want students to hold the scissors with their thumb facing up on one side of the scissors, and with the rest of the fingers facing down on the other side of the scissors. With their other hand, students should be working on holding the paper steady, so they can cut with more precision.
It is also during this time that students should be able to cut straight lines and curves. Of course, we know all students develop at different rates, and some of our students may not come to us with as much scissor experience as others. However, this is a good place to set our expectations at the beginning of the year in kindergarten.
Early Kindergarten (5)
After working on some of those basic cuts at the beginning of the year, most of our students should be ready to cut simple shapes like circles and squares. The way these shapes differ from the lines and curves that they were initially cutting is that now students have to use their hand and planning skills. They must move the paper so that they can repeat those straight and curved cuts as needed.
With my students, I love having them practice developing these scissor skills with my Fine Motor Cutting Task Cards. They are the perfect size for little hands to turn and manipulate (about half a sheet of paper), and they can be printed on cardstock so they are easier to cut. They can even be tailored to a student's skill level. Students who are still in the pre-kindergarten phase can continue working on those straight lines. Students at the little bit higher level can work on the zig zag and scalloped cuts, and more advanced students can work on more advanced cuts.
Late Kindergarten (5-6)
As students advance in developing their cutting skills, they should be using their thumb and two fingers (index and middle) to open and close the scissors. They should also be ready for more complex shapes. By more complex, I mean shapes that aren’t just made of continuous straight lines or curves. This could be things like large letter outlines, or pictures of everyday objects.
While my students are working towards mastery in this stage, I like to use my Alphabet Cutting Practice resource. On each page, there is a simple object for students to cut out, as well as letters to trace. For letter A, students will cut and paste an apple. For the letter D, they cut out a picture of a rubber duck. Because this activity has shapes other than simple lines and curves, circles, and squares, it gives a little more of a challenge to students, making it a great activity to fine tune their later scissor skills.
Throughout kindergarten, and even before, students have a lot of scissor skills to develop. They will begin by cutting simple lines and curves and eventually get to where they can cut complex shapes. Giving them activities that address these different cutting skills is key to making sure students continue growing their scissor skills throughout the year.