Tips for Teaching Kids to Cut with Scissors

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When teaching a child how to use scissors, start with simple snipping.

The progression of scissor skills (easiest to more difficult) is….

  1. Snipping flattened playdough or putty (cutting straws into pieces is also a good activity)
  2. Snipping thick paper such as construction paper or index cards
  3. Snipping regular, thinner copy paper
  4. Cutting a piece of paper into two pieces (or many little pieces)
  5. Cutting on a vertical line on paper
  6. Cutting out a circle
  7. Cutting out a square


A Fun Scissor “Chant” to use While your Child is Cutting:


Open, shut, open, shut!

That’s the way we cut cut cut

Fingers on the bottom, thumb on the top

Do not let the paper drop!

Open, shut, open shut

That’s the way we cut cut cut

Scissor Song (to the tune of “Are You Sleeping?”)

Keep your thumbs up,
Keep your thumbs up,
When you cut!
When you cut!
We can cut with scissors,
We can cut with scissors,
Open & shut!
Open & shut!


  • Always encourage your child to use a “thumbs up” grasp on the scissors.
  • Cutting out shapes is much more difficult than cutting on a line because it involves using the non-dominant hand to turn the paper while cutting with the other hand. Many kids will need help to do this higher level skill if they have difficulty with bilateral skills (using two hands together in a coordinated manner)
  • If a child is really having difficulty opening the scissors back up after squeezing them closed, you can try using a pair of spring-action scissors (which automatically spring back open while a child is cutting).
  • If a child is really having a hard time grasping the scissors and coordinating the movement to open/ close them, you may want to reconsider if the child is ready to be using scissors. The child may still need to work on his/ her grasping and fine motor skills. Try activities such as hand puppet games (this mimics the motion of opening and closing scissors) or tong/ tweezer games to start working those little muscles of the hand!

-Christina, OTR/L & Creator of Sensory TheraPLAY Box, LLC. (the monthly subscription sensory toy box for children on the autism spectrum and/or sensory needs)




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