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Monday, August 12, 2013

Learning To Cut

Hiya there peepers

Shuna here

So last week I wrote a post all about how I teach my kiddos to glue and I received some questions and emails about how I teach them to cut so I thought I would share. If you missed the gluing post you can check it out here 

*First let me say that I spend about a week teaching explicit scissor and gluing skills. These lessons usually happen during the first week of school, since we are busy testing and haven't gotten into any real content yet.  After the first week all other instruction in embedded within the content. For example if we are doing a cut and paste sheet for morning work I would use that time to work on scissor skills.*

During the first few weeks my students do a lot of practice with scissors

It is a process to get them to use them correctly, one that takes some time but it is an important skill that they must master.

Scissor skills are important pre-writing skills because they help the strengthen hand muscles

Below are the steps that I use to get my kiddos using their scissors

Why do kids need to learn to tear? Tearing teaches the students how to use their two hands together, a skill they will need when cutting, and develops coordination. Put your kids in small groups and let them practice tearing different kinds of paper
You can have them start by tearing thinner sheets of paper like construction paper and work their way up to tearing thicker sheets such as cardboard. 

They will love this

If your students are not quite ready for scissors you can use clothespins, tweezers, punching cards and tongs to help them develop their fine motor skills and hand muscles. 

When first learning to cut I use a lot of things that are have a thicker material that is less likely to bend. 

Things such as foam, play dough, straws, junk mail and index cards are excellent things to use

The first thing that I do is to teach my kiddos how to snip and make small cuts. Snipping helps the kiddos learn to manipulate the scissors and gets them use to using them and making the correct motion to open and close the scissors. 

A really easy way to get the kiddos to practice snipping is to cut strips of paper and divide the strip into sections. It is really important that when they are first learning to use the scissors that they are making quick snips and can cut the paper in one cut. 

Playdough and straws can also be used to help practice snipping.

Since the students are only practicing snipping at this point you will need to have pre-cut strips for them. A snip is one quick cut

After the kidletts have gotten good at snipping I next teach them how to make fringe cuts. Fringe helps the kiddos learn to stop the scissoring action. Cutting grass is a great way to practice cutting fringe. Give your students a strip of green paper and let them practice making fringe cuts.

I like to fold the strip so that the students know exactly where to stop

I find that when I don't fold the paper some of the littles cut all the way to the end of the strip 

After the students have mastered cutting fringe I let them do a little art project

Cutting longer strips is the next step in the cutting process. Cutting strips helps the students learn to move the scissors on longer cuts. When cutting strips the students practice moving the scissors toward the top of the paper without closing the scissors.

I use paint strips to give the students practice cutting shorter strips and then move them to cutting longer strips. 

To practice cutting longer strips I give the littles a sheet of construction paper and let them practice cutting up the length of the page.

After your students have practiced cutting strips a bit they can do a fun art project. I like the have my students make a cute spider that lets them see how the strips can be used.
Remember at this point the kiddos have only been practicing how to cut strips so everything else will already need to be pre-cut for them.

Cutting curves helps the students learn to turn the paper when they cut. 
It is easier for students to cut beside the line instead of on it this helps with visual perception.

To practice cutting curves give my students a large strip of paper and I tell them to make bunny hops

The last two steps are to teach the kiddos how to cut out shapes

Since just about every art project is based on a combination of shapes it is important for the kiddos to learn how to cut them

Simple shapes are circles, triangles, rectangles and squares. 
Some complex shapes with corners and curves that the students can practice cutting are hearts and stars.

I came across a cute idea on Pinterest about how to get the littles to hold the scissors correctly
Place a google eye on the scissors so that they know when the eye is looking up they are holding the scissors correctly.
  { The pin didn't have a link so if you know whose idea it is please share so that I can credit them properly!}

After the students have mastered their scissor skills I give them a certificate 
Click the pic to pick up this freebie

When I do the art projects above I usually just make the templates by hand but this year I am just going to copy the templates below and have the kiddos color in the picture. Click the pic below to get the sun template and spider eyes.

For more awesome cutting ideas check out this site 

Do you have any fabulous tips that you use to help your littles learn to use their scissors?
I would love to hear what you do!

Happy Cutting
Peace Out Peeps


  1. Wow what a great post! Teaching the kiddos to cut is the one thing I dread the most! This really gave me some insight on it! Thanks so much!!!


    1. I seriously dread it too

      So much so that I want to bang my head against a wall for the first couple of days but they get better!

  2. Very helpful information! Thanks for sharing! I am definitely going to add this to my glue instruction and handwriting strokes during the first few days of school!

  3. Aww I love this! I think my expectations were a little too high with the cutting was almost comical! Everyone had a good time though! I will have to try out your scissor curriculum given here - lol!
    Mrs. Cobb's Kindersprouts

    1. Good luck with the scissor curriculum, ha! I love that you said your expectations were too high

      We plan for everything but it always gets me how little I used to plan for teaching the littles scissors and gluing skills

      Happy teaching

  4. Oh thank you! I too dread teaching cutting skills!! I have decided to do nothing but procedures and fine motor skills the first 10 days! I am hoping this will pay off in the long run!
    Andrea :)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. It really will!

      My admin doesn't expect us to do much in the first weeks so it is a perfect time for me to do some fine motor instruction

  5. What a great post! It's such a fun way to practice cutting

  6. I love those little faces! Adorable!! Great post friend!!
    Rowdy in Room 300

    1. The little spider gets me too... I just keep looking at it

  7. OMG!!! What an awesome post, I needed an explicit post on teaching cutting skills, lol, and yours fit the bill!! Thanks so much!!!

    The Daily Alphabet

    1. Ha, you are hilarious!

      I am glad you found my little scissor instruction academy

  8. This is one of the best posts I've read in a while!! Who knew how much was involved in teaching cutting, but you have covered every aspect. THANK YOU for sharing your wonderful "tricks"! I love the idea of putting the googly eye on the scissors. I have two who actually hold their scissors upside down and sideways. Amazingly, they're able to cut, but goodness knows we need to fix that right away! :)

    1. Ha, every year I am amaze by how some of the littles use their scissors! They turn them all sorts of ways but somehow they manage to make cuts

      Thanks for stopping by

  9. Love, LOVE, Love this post. I'm literally on my way to my local 7-11 to wipe them out of their straws! As always my friend, you R O C K !

    Ms. Hutten’s Buttons

    1. Ha, I picked up so many straws from 7-11 that the check out clerk just shook her head and said, "TEACHERS!"

  10. Shauna, this post is awesome. I cannot begin to tell you how helpful this was this year, as my kiddos have no school experience. I'm going to make an anchor chart using some of your ideas. I'll let you know as soon as I'm done so you can grab it for FREE! Blessings to you!


Thanks for visiting my blog! -Shuna

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