If you've ever used scissors for an extended period you know that the small muscles in your hands and fingers get a workout. Building the strength and motor coordination necessary to correctly use scissors is something your child can begin as early as age 2 1/2 or 3 and continue into preschool. Like any muscle or fine-motor skill, repetition is important, as is finding developmentally appropriate activities.
Encourage your child to practice the basic movement of opening and closing the scissors around paper. Place a tray or baking sheet under his scissoring area and ask him to help you make confetti by cutting the paper into very tiny pieces. Provide different colored stock cards or the subscription cards found inside magazines, which are extra thick and easier to hold steady while cutting. Let him clip and snip away to make confetti by cutting wherever he can.
Scissoring the edge of the paper into fringe gives your child practice at purposeful cutting without requiring advanced scissoring skills such as cutting shapes from paper. Practice making short fringe with shallow cuts and deeper fringe with longer cuts. Try taping the back edge of the paper to the table so it's stable while she's cutting. Turn the fringe-filled paper into paper crowns or construction paper floral bouquets or use the fringe to decorate for an upcoming birthday party.
Soft and Floppy Cutting
Cutting soft, flexible items requires your child to stabilize what he's cutting while operating the scissors. Have him cut colorful yarn or ribbon into tiny pieces that he then spreads over glue-covered cardboard to make a furry monster. Provide him with scissors to cut simple circles or curved lines in play dough, clay or flattened cookie dough. The soft, forgiving consistency of dough or clay makes it easier to turn the scissors while cutting.
Making Wearable Crafts
Practice scissor skills while making crafts. Have your child paint a few soda straws and then cut them into small pieces that she strings on yarn to make a necklace. Show her how to shred tissue paper for gift baskets by folding the paper over, cutting the paper into strips and then cutting each strip in half. A more advanced scissor user can also cut out felt or cloth shapes for you to glue or sew on her clothing.