This is the first in a series of posts I will be sharing in the coming weeks, all about teaching kids to use scissors. R (5 years) has finally mastered the art of using scissors, so I thought I might share the different ways I have tried to encourage his cutting skills over the years. Today I’m talking about using play dough to develop early scissor skills.
Learning to use scissors can be so challenging for little hands. Paper is flimsy and it can be difficult for kids to hold it firmly in place when they try to cut it, leading to frustration and disappointment. Using play dough to practise scissor skills can make things much easier, and help to boost confidence. A child might first choose to stab at the play dough rather than cut it, or they may not hold the scissors correctly. This type of exploration is just fine – there is still a lot of learning going on.
Rolling out long strips of play dough and then using the scissors to cut off small portions is a great way for kids to learn to use scissors. The play dough is so forgiving and there’s no need to worry about cutting on a line. When R did this for the first time (I think he would have been about two and a half at the time) he was so engrossed in the activity.
As you can see in the photo below, R is holding his hand upside down while he is cutting. I wasn’t too concerned with correcting him during this activity. This was simply about learning what the scissors can do. In an upcoming post I’ll share one of my favourite tips for helping kids to keep their hand up the right way when they are using scissors.
Trying to cut a narrow strip of play dough is so much easier than trying to cut paper. Seeing immediate success was such a confidence booster for him and this encouraged him to keep trying.
The play dough adds an element of fun to what can sometimes be a stressful skill for kids to learn. Rolling out the play dough strips is also fantastic for hand muscle strength (essential for that all important pincer grip), not to mention the sensory and imaginative play that inevitably comes from playing with play dough.
Have you tried using play dough to teach scissor skills?
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