Cutting With Scissors

Cutting with scissors is a great art project AND a way to develop fine motor skills.
Using scissors builds finger strength and dexterity for later writing skills. There is also hand-eye coordination involved.

Most children really enjoy cutting with scissors. Not only is it a feeling of power and accomplishment to snip and cut, there is tactile feedback that is really satisfying.

You can start teaching your child to use scissors around 2 years old, when they are ready to follow some scissor safety rules:

  • You must be sitting down to use scissors.
  • Use scissors only in areas that are safe (at art table, etc.)
  • Do not walk holding scissors.


  1. Start with blunt tip scissors.
  2. Position body at table.
    • Sit down, elbows in, feet on ground.  It is very common for new users to twist their wrist and try to cut “upside down” with their hand. Keeping elbows close to the sides of the body will help correct this.
  3. Put scissors on hand:
    • Thumb in round hole, pointer and middle finger in larger loop.
    • You can help children remember the hand position by putting matching stickers on your child’s thumbnail and the thumb hole on the scissors.
  4. Practice opening and closing.  You can practice first with small serving tongs to pick up objects like cotton balls and Legos if your child is struggling with this.

What paper to use:

Beginners need paper that is thin enough to cut through with one snip, but sturdy enough that it doesn’t flop when they are trying to hold the paper. Construction paper or envelopes are great for beginners.

You can also start by cutting rolled out playdough. It is easier to hold than paper.

Once holding and snipping is mastered you can use old greeting cards for practice with lines and shapes. Older children may enjoy using “crinkle cut” scissors.

Typical skill progression:

2-2 ½ years old
It is normal for beginners to push the scissors through the paper and tear rather than cut.
It takes a lot of practice and strength building to start snipping.

2 ½ -3 years old
Can snip edge of paper.

3 years old
Can hold paper with one hand, scissors with the other and cut.

4 years old
Can cut line across paper.

5 years old
Can cut simple shapes.

About left-handed scissors:
Left-handed scissors are different than right-handed scissors. However, I can find no actual studies indicating that left-handed children who are just starting to learn to cut should use left-handed scissors