Child cutting with scissors behind title: Scissors and Preschoolers - Scissors Basics

 

When should children learn to use scissors? At what age are they too young? How should I teach my preschooler to use scissors?

If you’ve asked any of these questions, then you’re in the right place. As a preschool teacher who has worked closely with children, 2-5 years old, for over 9 years, I’ve learned a thing or two when it comes to teaching young children how to use scissors. In this blog post, I’m going to share what I’ve learned with you.

Why teach preschoolers how to use scissors?

If you’ve been around early learning and child care settings, you will likely have heard the term “fine motor muscles.” Fine motor muscles are the small muscles in the hands, especially those needed to hold a pencil. A child with strong fine motor muscles has a distinct advantage when it comes to learning to hold a pencil properly for writing. Therefore, we want to provide many opportunities for children to exercise their fine motor muscles. One excellent way to do so is by using scissors.

Added to that, a child who goes into Kindergarten feeling comfortable and moderately capable with scissors will have an advantage during various crafts and activities that require the use of scissors.

Which scissors to start with?

There are three basic types of scissors for preschoolers.Crayola Safety Scissors

  1. Entirely plastic safety scissors – These are the type of scissors that can cut playdough, but not much else. Most of them do not work well on paper. Crayola makes my favourite type of these scissors. They come in a set of three. I have no problem leaving these scissors freely at the playdough table for children even as young as 2 years olds. I have seen these available at various stores that also sell Crayola markers and crayons.
  2. Metal safety scissors – These scissors look like regular adult scissors except that they are smaller and have a rounded point rather than a sharp tip. These sorts of safety scissors are widely available in stores. Note that they are sharp enough to cut various materials and, therefore, require adult supervision.Maped Spring Safety Scissors
  3. Spring safety scissors – These scissors look identical to typical metal safety scissors, except for the addition of a spring. Children with weak fine motor muscles are typically able to close the scissors, but may find it difficult to reopen the scissors without using their second hand to help. Preschools often have a pair or two of these spring scissors. If you are only teaching one or two children how to use scissors, buying these special spring scissors typically is not needed. If your child struggles to open the scissors at first, don’t be worried. Simply keep practicing with the scissors and providing other fine motor exercises to strengthen their muscles.

Going forward in this article, I will be referring to the second (and/or third) type of scissors, but not the first entirely plastic ones.

When to teach preschoolers how to use scissors?

If you asked me to pinpoint an age when most children are ready to begin using scissors, I would say 2.5 years old. However, I say that cautiously. Having worked with countless children, I have noticed that some children are very impulsive and unaware of what they are doing with their hands. These children may not be ready to begin using scissors until they have matured more as scissors can be dangerous when not handled well.

Also, only bring out the scissors during calmer parts of the day. If you have multiple children around, you do not want the others running nearby while scissors are being used.

How to teach preschoolers to use scissors?

Before I tell you how to teach your preschooler to use scissors, a word of caution. Scissors are dangerous. Children, and those instructing them, must treat scissors with a degree of respect.

  • ModelYoung girl using scissors
    • If your child has never watched someone use scissors before, take a moment to grab a piece of paper and a pair of scissors and show them how to cut.
  • Thumbs up
    • Although this may feel awkward for your child at first, the proper posture when using scissors is to have thumbs up. By that, I mean that the hand holding the scissors has the thumb on the top and the fingers on the bottom when cutting. Similarly, the hand holding the paper, which I like to call the “helper hand”, should have the thumb on top of the paper and the fingers underneath. For many children, this takes practice and several gentle reminders.
  • Supervise
    • Again, scissors are dangerous – to you, your child, and to the environment around them. Be intentional to tell your child that scissors are only for paper. A child left unsupervised with scissors is prone to cutting something that shouldn’t be cut, whether the tablecloth, their clothing, the nearest ribbon, etc. This is also the age for self-haircuts. Nearly every year one of my children shows up one day with a very short haircut accompanied by their parent’s explanation that the child gave themselves a haircut. Therefore, I repeat, keep an eye on your child when they are using scissors.

Techniques for teaching children to use scissors

1. Hand-over-hand – this technique I recommend for the first few times your child uses scissors, especially if they are younger than 4 years old. For some children, only one time of hand-over-hand is needed. For other children, I would use hand-over-hand for several months before trusting them to use scissors on their own.

    • The hand-over-hand technique is exactly what it sounds like. I put my right hand over the child’s right hand and my left hand over their left hand. I find this works best if I sit on a low seat and have the child stand in front of me. In this way, I am more or less providing training wheels for the child as they learn to use scissors. While using the hand-over-hand technique, I help the children make crafts.

2. Free cutting – Some children are able to skip the hand-over-hand technique and move right to this one. Some teachers start all their children with this technique.

    • Collect a pile of papers, flyers you are planning to recycle work well. Have the child sit at a table. Give them a pair of scissors and several pieces of paper. Allow them to freely cut the paper however they wish. Many children will end up cutting the paper into itsy bitsy bits. That’s just fine. The goal of this technique is to give the children space to build the fine motor muscles needed to use scissors and to become comfortable using scissors on their own.

3. Following a line – Some children will be more engaged with their scissors if they are making something. There are various ways to give them an opportunity to do this, even when they are just starting out with scissors. I will list a few below.

Ways to incorporate scissor practice into a craft

  1. Choose a colouring sheet that matches your theme, draw a line around the image on the colouring sheet. Be sure the line is distinct from the lines of the image, perhaps by being a different colour. Have the child cut along the line. Then allow the child to colour, paint, or otherwise decorate the picture.
  2. If your craft includes several parts that you would typically cut beforehand and then give to the child to glue together, consider allowing your child to cut out one of the bigger pieces. For beginner cutters, it should be no smaller than a quarter of a sheet of paper. Once they have cut it out, have them proceed with the craft as usual.
  3. Let the child cut something to glue on. For example, if you’re talking about food, you could give your child a grocery store flyer and encourage them to cut out various food items and glue them on a piece of paper. Alternatively, let them cut a piece of paper into itsy bitsy bits and then glue the paper onto a picture to make a flower, etc.

Tips

  • Round lines are harder than straight lines
  • If your child gets distracted while holding scissors, gently remind them to look at their scissors when they are cutting.
  • Teach children that their helper hand is the one that should be turning the paper to follow the line. Their scissor hand should stay mostly straight in front of them rather than turning with the line.
  • Slightly thicker paper is often easier for children at first.
  • Teach the child, perhaps by modelling it, that when they are following a line and go off track, they need to stop and cut towards the line to get back on track.

What are some of your favourite scissor activities for your child?

An eagle soaring behind title: The Eagle's Rest

Camp. I love being involved in helping put on summer camp. Still, there are days when exhaustion tries to kick in.

Have you ever volunteered at a summer camp or helped run a VBS? If your answer is yes, then you probably understand.

This past summer, it was on one of those tired mornings that I found a moment to slip away for a bit of quiet by myself before the busyness of the day began.

I made my way down a familiar trail through the quiet woods. A bird chirped overhead and a squirrel chattered.

I stepped out onto the rocky beach that lined the little river. The sky was clear blue with a few white clouds. There was a fresh morning chill in the air that I knew would fade quickly once the sun peeked over the treetops.

Finding a large rock, I pulled out my Bible and notebook. I only had a few minutes, but I was unlikely to find time for personal Bible reading later in the day.

I opened to the Psalms and began to read.

Suddenly I looked up. I blinked and looked again. It was unmistakable. A bald eagle came gliding along the river valley.

I watched its apparently effortless flying as it soared along. Then it shifted course and landed on the tip of a tree along the river.

I sat amazed watching it. In all my years of being at this campsite, including many mornings of slipping down to this very beach, I had never seen a bald eagle there.

After a minute or so, the eagle gracefully returned to the air and glided down the valley and out of sight.

I couldn’t help but smile at having witnessed such an event. Of course, my mind at once went to a very familiar passage: Isaiah 40:30-31.

“Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.” (NIV 2011)

I know there are pastors and others who have gone deep into eagle’s behaviours and what these verses mean. I am not an expert on eagles, so I cannot rightly do the same, but I do know what I observed that morning and how fitting it was for me that day.

The eagle’s soaring looked effortless. It was graceful. It was calm and collected. God can give me strength to be like that, even in the midst of the busyness of camp.

At the same time, the eagle did pause for a moment. Likewise, if I want that strength, there must be moments of pause – moments of reminding myself where my hope is.

Is my hope truly in God? Or am I hoping in something else? Perhaps my hope is in the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Perhaps my hope is in my finances. Perhaps my hope is in my health.

Like the bald eagle I saw that morning, I must pause and turn my focus to the Lord. He will renew my strength when my hope is in the right place.

If you are feeling weary and tired today, I encourage you to take a moment to pause and turn to the Lord in prayer, then read through the passage again, but this time start at Isaiah 40:28. (Here’s a link if you need it.)

How wonderful to be reminded that God does not grow weary or tired no matter how tired I get!

Today, may I place my hope securely in the Lord, for He will renew my strength.

Want more Encouraging Christian blog posts? Then you might like S. J. Little’s other posts including:

Just harvested carrots and onions behind title: The Preschool Harvest Song

 

Ah, autumn. The time when leaves turn beautiful fall shades, children return to school, and gardens must be harvested before frost hits. It’s also the perfect time to talk about harvest with your preschoolers.

Using harvest as your preschool theme is excellent for discussing concepts such as healthy eating and for learning to categorize fruits and veggies. Not to mention all the discussion about colours and shapes that can be had.

Whether you’re using “harvest” as your fun theme or not, here’s a fantastic new song to sing with your children. I’ve been asked to sing it over and over again, and I suspect that you will be too.

 

Tips for singing the Preschool Harvest Song

  • Take a moment to explain what the word “harvest” means, as most children will be unfamiliar with it. I like to say that harvest is when farmers go to pick all the yummy food they grew so that people can eat it.
  • Invite your children to participate by choosing which food to sing about next. I’ve created a list of optional verses for you to choose from, but feel free to come up with more of your own. Depending on the attention span of your children, I recommend only singing 3 to 5 verses each time you sing the song.
  • Try adding visuals, whether you bring real examples of the food, make pictures of them, or cut pictures of them out of flyers. Visuals help young children understand and follow the song, especially if they are still learning English.

 

As this is an original song, please be sure to include my name as the songwriter any time you share this song.

Preschool Harvest Song

Song by: S. J. Little

Tune: Are You Sleeping

 

We are growing, we are growing,

Long orange carrots, long orange carrots.

Now we’ll harvest them to eat, now we’ll harvest them to eat.

Yummy, yummy, good! Yummy, yummy good!

Actions:

We are growing – pat field around you in several places

Long orange carrots – move fingers along outside of long carrot shape

Now we’ll harvest them to eat – start with arms wide then bring in towards self as though gathering armload

Yummy, yummy, good! – pretend to eat

 

Optional Verses:Hand holding freshly harvested carrots

  • Bright red tomatoes
  • Lots of potatoes
  • Juicy red apples
  • Tall yellow corn
  • Rich green spinach

 

What food items did you sing about with your children?

Looking for more original and engaging preschool songs? Check out the Flamingo Song and the Taxi Song both by S. J. Little.

Raspberry bush behind title "Distracted for the Better?"

 

I recently spent a week volunteering at a summer camp. It was a blast as always! This summer we played a game we call “Leader Hide and Seek.”

The game is simple. Eight or so leaders hide throughout the campsite. The campers travel as teams trying to find the leaders. When found, the leader signs the campers’ signature card. The campers then continue hunting for the other leaders. The team of campers with the most signatures at the end wins.

They gave us leaders a head start while they explained the game to the campers. As I trotted away from the group, I pondered where to hide. The trees near the cabins worked well last time I played, but I saw two or three others heading that way. Perhaps I could duck behind the fire pit walls? No, the campers were sure to find me there.

Instead, I headed toward the teepee. However, again, several leaders were heading the same direction. Perhaps the long grass in the poplar tree stand would give me enough cover. When I got there, the grass simply didn’t seem thick enough. Perhaps that was due to the hot, dry summer we’d had.

I frowned. There had to be a good hiding place around. I eyed the nearby clusters of bushes. They had sparse wild raspberries growing around the outside, but in the middle, thick stalks of a bush with large leaves would serve me well.

As I burrowed my way into the largest bush, I was glad I’d worn long pants and a long sleeve sweater with a hood since some of the plants were prickly. I found a clear enough space inside the bush where I could crouch down, hiding even my face from sight.

By now, I could hear campers on the move. I stayed motionless as some drew near on their way to the teepee.

When their voices drifted away, I allowed myself to sit up in an attempt to relieve the numbness from my crouched legs.

Again voices drew near. I lowered myself and crouched motionless. It seemed one of the teams was arguing amongst themselves.

“Come on.”

“But I want to pick some raspberries.”

I froze. If they paused to pick raspberries, they’d likely spot me. Maybe I’d chosen a bad hiding place!

Another teammate spoke up. “We need to check by the teepee.”

“But I want raspberries.”

“Don’t get distracted. We need to stay focused and find more leaders.”

“Oh, fine. One more raspberry, then I’m coming.”

I didn’t dare release my breath until all their voices had faded considerably. That had been close. Their teammate’s distraction had almost led them to their goal – finding a leader.

I laughed at the irony of it. We typically consider distractions to be bad. They are what keep us from reaching our goals. This time, however, the distraction of raspberry picking nearly led them right to their goal.

As I sat quietly in my hiding spot waiting for someone to find me, I pondered the irony of it. The distraction, quite the opposite of being a hindrance, had so nearly enabled them to achieve their goal.

I wondered if there might be an allegory for me to learn from. Are there things in my life which I class as distractions that are actually the key to succeeding if only I’d give them space?

Now, please don’t misunderstand. There are many bad and destructive distractions that exist to sidetrack a person and reek havoc in their life. Therefore, careful discernment and weighing of good and evil in light of what the Bible teaches us is necessary.

Having said that, I do believe there are times when what I classify as a distraction from reaching my goal, is actually the very best thing I could be doing to help accomplish God’s goal for my life.

In Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV we read,

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'”

Sometimes, perhaps far more often than I realize, my primary goal or plan is not what God has in mind. His plans are better.

Perhaps the clearest example of this we find in the Bible is the story of Mary and Martha. I’ll summarize it here, but to read the whole story go to Luke 10:38-42.

Martha welcomed Jesus and His disciples into her home. She hustled about busily serving her guests. Her sister Mary, however, did not help her. Instead, she sat near Jesus listening to His words.

When Martha asked Jesus to tell her sister, Mary, to help her, Jesus replied,

“‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but only one thing is necessary; for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41b-42 NASB)

Martha’s goal was to serve and host Jesus and His disciples. From her perspective, Mary was distracted. Rather than helping Martha accomplish her goal, Mary sat idly listening.

Jesus’ perspective was different. He knew that, while there are times to serve, there are also times when the very best thing we can do is pause to listen to His Word.

So what do I classify as a distraction?

At camp there were times when I had somewhere to be and a job to get done, but a couple of the campers wanted to chat. Did I brush them off as a distraction? Or did I pause in my busyness to take a few minutes to connect with them?

What about in my daily life? Do I take time to read the Bible? Do I allow myself needed rest? Do I pause to connect with those around me even when the dishes are begging to be washed?

I suspect that in every season of my life there will be something I am tempted to classify as a distraction, when really it is the very thing God would have me make time for.

What about in your life? What have you deemed a distraction which may actually be the very thing God wants you to be doing?

Toy taxi with title: The Taxi Song

Have you ever focused on taxis as your preschool theme? Perhaps you focused on cab drivers as part of your theme of community helpers, or occupations? Or maybe it was a book that spurred your child’s interest in taxis. Regardless of the reason, it can be tricky to find good songs on this topic. That’s why I created this new preschool song about taxis.

 

Tips for singing the Taxi Song

I like to start this song by pretending to look for a taxi, then pointing and exclaiming, “I see a taxi!” At this point, I launch into the song. After singing the song once, I will pause and say, “I think we should go somewhere else now. I know, let’s go to the airport. That means we need to look for another taxi. Oh, there one is!”

Depending on your children’s age and the size of your group, you may be able to let your children choose the destinations.

*As this is an original song, please be sure to include my name as the songwriter any time you share this song.

The Taxi Song

By: S. J. Little

Tune: The Wheels on the Bus

 

Taxi, taxi, wait for me, wait for me, wait for me.

Taxi, taxi, wait for me. I need to go to town.

 

Variations

“Town” can be changed to other destinations based on your children’s interests.

My favourite destinations include:

Other destinations could be:

  • The hospital
  • Downtown
  • Market
  • School

 

Actions

The actions for the taxi song are simple and fun.

  • Taxi, taxi, wait for me – wave your arms above your head as though trying to catch the attention of a taxi driver
  • I need to go to town – point to self, then point in the direction of “town”

Other original preschool songs by S. J. Little

If you liked this song, don’t forget to check out my other original songs, including: