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 skill development. 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 young children have hopefully already been working on, like holding the scissor and paper correctly. If it's their first time working on their development of scissor skills, you at least want to ensure your child or student doesn't struggle with the grasp-release motion.
Once ready, take the dominant hand to hold the pair of 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 non-dominate hand (also known as the helper hand), students should be working on holding a piece of paper steady, so they can cut with more precision.
It is also during this time that they 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. It may take lots of practice but have them cut strips of paper to start.
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. This is a great way because they are the perfect size for little hands to turn and manipulate (about half a sheet of paper), and they can be printed on card stock 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 a visual cue, trying zig zags and scalloped cuts, and other different ways. While 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 finger and middle) to open and close scissors. They should also be ready for more complex shapes because their hand-eye coordination is hopefully sharper and their hand strength is now more equipped to work the scissors. By more complex, I mean shapes that aren’t just made of continuous straight lines or curves. This could be things like various sizes of letter outlines or pictures of everyday objects.
While my young kids are working toward their skills development, I like to use my Alphabet Cutting Practice an additional 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 fun way 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 an important part in making sure students continue growing their scissor skills throughout the year. With a lot of practice, by the end of the year, both visual perceptual skills, finger control, and scissors skill should be much more improved. Developing scissor skills should not only be helpful but also fun!