Many of our kindergarten students don’t come to us with good cutting skills. They may struggle with cutting quickly and accurately, or they simply just don't know where to start with scissors. This turns into growing frustration and sometimes an unwillingness to complete the task. As teachers, it is important for us to know how to improve cutting skills with our students so that they don’t become frustrated.
These four ways to improve cutting skills are sure to increase your students' confidence and abilities with scissors in no time!
#1 Teach Explicit Lessons on How to Use Scissors
When students don’t know how to use scissors, it is our job to teach them how. I recommend having explicit, whole-group lessons at the beginning of the year. Continue these lessons, as needed, to show students how to use scissors correctly. Show them which fingers go into which parts of scissors. Talk about the motion that their hands will make to make the scissors cut. Demonstrate how to hold the paper with their other hand so that they have more control over where they are cutting. This time may also be a good time to talk about ways we do not use scissors, such as cutting hair, clothing, or pencils. Record it all on an anchor chart with pictures of what you talked. You and the students can refer back to these charts when they are struggling with their cutting skills.
#2 Give Plenty of Opportunities to Practice Cutting
People say that practice makes perfect, and cutting is no exception. There are so many ways that students can practice using scissors, and they need those opportunities in order to improve their cutting skills. This practice can be based in crafts or simple worksheets. For students struggling with scissor use, it can be really beneficial to utilize tasks where the only goal for students is to make a cut from point a to point b. Regardless of what type of activities you choose, just make sure that students are given plenty of opportunities to practice.
#3 Make it Fun
Cutting practice doesn’t have to feel like a drill for students. In fact, it would be more helpful for students who are struggling with their cutting skills if it did not. Try to keep scissor practice fun and lighthearted through crafts and projects that don’t require as much precision, especially in the beginning of the year. If students are having fun, they are less likely to feel frustrated and more likely to keep working through the task.
#4 Include Other Fine Motor Activities
Another way to improve cutting skills is by forgetting about scissors altogether! This may sound counterintuitive, but consider that the reason some students struggle with cutting is because they don’t have their fine motor skills and muscles built up enough to use scissors effectively. Students can perform tasks like using child-size tongs to move small objects like pom-poms from one container to another. They will still be using their fingers to open and close the tongs, which is similar to the motion used while cutting. Even activities that aren’t as similar to cutting can help students build up those fine motor skills required for scissors. By finding other fine motor activities that address those same muscles, students can improve their cutting skills without even touching a pair of scissors.
When students don’t come to our classroom with proficient cutting skills, it becomes our job to help develop them. This can be done through explicit lessons, plenty of practice, and other fine motor activities. By improving our kindergarten students’ cutting skills, we can take a lot of stress out of our students’ day and possibly out of our own day, as well!