What are some simple preschool scissor skills activities you can try with kids?

Scissor skills activities don’t need to be complicated! You’ll love this easy to set up cutting tray for preschoolers!

My preschooler has been doing fine motor skill building activities for years and was especially excited when scissors were introduced to her last Spring. She’s still building up her stamina for more complex or bigger cutting projects, so we set up a cutting tray to let her practice snipping and cutting in a variety of ways.

RELATED: Before you hand scissors to kids, you want to make sure they try lots of fine motor activities first. Here are some of easy fine motor activities for kids.

scissor skills activity for preschoolers

How to set up a cutting tray:

This is so easy that I’ll bet you could do it in less than 2 minutes!

  1. Grab a tray or container to put paper in.
  2. Cut several pieces of colored cardstock in half or in quarters.
  3. Draw lines, designs, zig zags, slits, etc. on each piece of paper with a Sharpie.
  4. Stick the paper in the container with a pair of scissors.
  5. Introduce it to your preschooler!

Once you’ve shown the activity to your preschooler, you can let them explore and cut as much as they would like. Make sure to include some plain paper as well in case they want to cut their own designs.

Step back and observe or cut your own paper while sitting next to your child. Refrain from correcting or criticizing, just model proper scissor skills and remind your child to keep the smiley face up.

cutting lines on a blue paper

One of my favorite scissor skills teaching tips that I learned from Happy Hooligans over a decade ago was to put a smiley face on your child’s thumb to help them to remember to keep their thumb facing upwards while cutting.

girl cutting a yellow paper with a smiley face on her thumb

At what age do you introduce scissors?

For me it is less of an age thing and more of a stage thing.

I ask myself the following questions:

  • Has my child tried a lot of different types of fine motor activities with his hands, like digging, pressing, pulling, squishing, pinching, etc?
  • Is my child interested in using scissors?

When my kids are around 2 or seem ready or interested in cutting, I like to introduce cutting things like playdough, yarn, and spaghetti. Then we’ll move on to paper or other materials.

Usually by age 3 I will introduce kid scissors to my kids for cutting paper.

“Before we ever put a pencil in a child’s hands, those hands should dig, climb, press, pull, squish, twist and pinch in a wide array of environments and with a variety of materials.” – Amanda Morgan

RELATED: Want some ways to let your child dig and squeeze? These 10 Awesome Fine motor sensory bins are a great way to let kids build up their finger strength and muscle stamina.

girl cutting lines on an orange piece of paper

Why do you use cardstock first for cutting?

Construction paper is awesome, but often flimsy. For kids who are new to cutting, I like giving them a more stiff paper to make it a bit easier for them as they get started. It also helps them move slower and also is less likely to rip and cause frustration. Once they’ve practiced a bit, then I move them to thinner paper or even different textures of paper.

What are the best scissors for preschoolers?

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We love to use Fiskars rounded scissors for younger kids and Fiskers pointy scissors for older kids.

For kids who are just starting out, you can also use playdough scissors to cut playdough.

cutting zig zag lines on yellow paper

Fun way to extend the cutting tray activity:

After your child has tried out their cutting tray, you can give them their own paper and markers to design a cutting tray activity for you! My daughter loved making me an scissor skill activity to try!

cutting activity made by a preschooler on purple paper

Here the other materials we like to use for our cutting trays:

Have you tried a cutting tray with your child before? Do you have any other favorite scissor skills activities you’ve done? Share them below!

girl cutting paper with scissors