Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Scissor Snipping Tips!

We have recently begun our love of snipping paper with scissors!  With each group of children, I tend to have some obsessed 'scissor snippers' in the group!  (Or, paper-tearing children, as I had last year!)  I sometimes think it must become an obsession because generally the children are not allowed to do this much at home!  Well, for whatever reason, it does seem to fascinate some children!

We always have small plastic scissors to use with our playdough.  These scissors work well for playdough, but are completely plastic, so won't cut through paper.

Unfortunately, we had to return our dearly loved adapted scissors to our assistive tech. loan library (but check out the link to see what they looked like).  I am in the process of ordering one of these for our little guy who needs these to keep in the classroom!  There are other low-tech versions of adapted scissors.  (check these out HERE if you are interested)

We also have a vast array of various scissors in our scissors box!  All five of the scissors in the photos above are from our scissors box! 

These are traditional 'training' scissors.  Apparently, you are supposed to have the child put his fingers in the inner two loops, while an adult puts their fingers in the outer two loops and assists with the cutting motion.  I have NEVER found these helpful.  They are very difficult to maneuver for an adult and don't actually cut ANYTHING!  So....there they are....sitting in our scissors box!  But, they're not lonely in that box, as I have more scissors that I dislike!

The blue scissors shown here are supposedly designed to make cutting easier for a child just beginning to snip paper.  They ONLY close.  The child does not do anything to open the scissors; they stay open.  I do NOT find them easier.  In fact, I have yet to have a child in my classroom who has enough physical hand strength to close these so they will actually cut!

These green scissors (above) are the typical children's scissors.  They work well enough for children who have the the fine motor skills and the hand strength to open and close the scissors and snip the edge of the paper.  For most of the children in my classroom, these are too difficult to manipulate to make any snips in paper.

I expected a lot from the orange handled scissors above...but I was a bit disappointed!  The idea behind these is a technique that I learned originally from another preschool teacher here.  The child has more stability and is able to manipulate the scissors better when they use the index finger to stabilize the scissors.  Therefore, the child's thumb goes into the medium sized loop (the single loop), the index finger goes through the small top loop and the child's middle and ring finger go through the large loop. 

This is a great idea and works very well if you simply use regular scissors for this technique. Unfortunately, these scissors are so stiff, that the children have difficulty opening and closing them! 

Here is how you would use this technique with regular scissors.  The thumb goes into the large loop, then the middle finger goes into the small loop and the index finger goes above this.  (Of course, the thumb would normally be on top- I just wanted to show how you would position the fingers).  
The green scissor shown above are currently my favorite pair of scissor to use with children!  These were a MAJOR steal!  I found these at the Dollar Store.  They are probably NOT going to last forever, and every once in a while you need to pop the middle spring back in, but for a DOLLAR a piece, I'm pretty impressed!  These scissors actually teach the open/shut motion needed for snipping!  The yellow spring in the middle simply springs the scissors back open for the child!  For some reason, these do seem to work the best!  I have not used them for an extended period of time, so I'm not sure if they'll hold up.  But for actual child-ease and the ability to cut paper...I think these are the best option!

Now, here are a few tips for WHAT children should begin snipping: 
  1. Playdough is always the easiest to begin with and to practice the technique of snipping. 
  2. Index cards or card stock should be the next step.  (The thicker the paper, the more success the child will have.)
  3. I also love to use long strips of construction paper for the children to snip.  They can then snip all along the edge making a fringe to feel!
 As this was sitting in my edit posts box waiting for photos to be inserted, I noticed that there were several other wonderful posts on scissors on other blogs.  So, please check out these from Teach Preschool and Teacher Tom.  I'm also sure there are more wonderful posts out there on favorite scissors and scissor techniques so check around! 


  1. I told you! That's why I started laughing last night as I read your post! I think we came to a little bit different conclusions, but the idea is the same!

  2. Thank you for this wonderful summary of the many scissors options out there. Like you, I tried many, many (many, many...) different scissors in my classroom always looking for the best fit for those little hands. In the end, I found some wonderful scissors like your orange-handled scissors but the ones I found were very smooth. I loved them because I thought the three holes really let the children use a lot of their hand to stabilize the scissors. If you have time, I'd love your thoughts on my general discussion of fine motor skills, including the importance of learning the proper scissor grip. http://www.schoolsparks.com/early-childhood-development/fine-motor

    Thanks for this great blog. I'm a long-time follower.


  3. Pam-
    I love the same scissors you do! We've had ours for about 5 years. With VERY regular use they are still going strong!

    Thanks for popping by my blog and for promoting the outdoor classroom link up! I still have a list of 20-25 places I have bookmarked to add, but I'm hoping that we will get a lot of other inspiration too!

  4. Renee- Thanks so much for following! I agree that the three holes on the orange scissors in theory should work wonderfully! (and for most they probably do) For most children in my room though, they lack the muscle strength to open the scissors back up! I also think I may just need to use a little cooking spray or something on them to get them to open a little easier!
    I will definitely stop by and look at the discusion on fine motor skills!

  5. Amy- I am MORE than happy to promote the outdoor learning link up! I think it's a wonderful idea and will be so useful to us as we move into this a bit more! I still have to catch up on looking at all of them! (oh- and I'm so glad to hear your scissors have held up for 5 years! This gives me hope that ours will last!)


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