Functional Fine Motor Skills: Teaching Scissor Skills

Cutting with scissors is a fantastic way to build foundation skills such as  hand strength, bilateral integration (the ability to coordinate both sides of the body together) and eye-hand coordination.

Scissor skills progression:

  • Single snips (playdough, straws, streamers, paper plates, fringing)
  • Straight lines (spider legs, jelly fish tentacles)
  • Straight sided shapes
  • Curved lines

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Tips for success:

  • Provide explicit rules for cutting. Using ‘doing hand’ and ‘helper hand’ terminology can be helpful.
    • Doing hand: holds the scissors, the thumb is placed in the smaller hole and is positioned on top and the scissors point forwards at all times.
    • Helper hand: holds the paper, the thumb is placed on top and it turns the paper to make sure the scissors stay on the lines.
  • When learning the roles of each hand it can be helpful to take turns completing the ‘doing hand’ and ‘helper hand’ actions (e.g. your child turns the paper while you cut with the scissors). This will allow your child to focus on one hand at a time.  Once they are able to complete each role in isolation they are then ready to put it together.
  • Discussing the plan before your child starts cutting can assist with accuracy. e.g. encourage them to point out where they will start, trace their finger along the line to be cut and indicate places where they will need to stop and turn the paper.
  • You can also add in visual cues such as a green dot to indicate the starting point and red dots at the corners to display when they will need to stop cutting and turn the paper.

We hope that these simple suggestions assist your child to master their cutting skills!

-Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist




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