I teach my sewing club on a Saturday and I’m also a Beaver Leader to 26 Beavers every Tuesday evening and I’ve noticed something in common with the two groups; when they use scissors they snip at the ends of the paper, or whatever they are cutting, and this results in a jagged, rough edge. In short -their scissor skills aren’t that great! After a little research on the internet I’ve found that there are lots of articles for activities to help aid scissor control in young children and these divide into two sorts. Those that strengthen the muscles to enable the hand to cut and those activities that give the child something to cut -dotted lines or suchlike but I’ve been surprised not to be able to find anything on how children should be taught to use scissors. In essence; how to cut with them. This is a blog that does this so your child can know how best to cut to get the best results.
I have a confession to make in that I have rather a lot of scissors! Here are just a few of the different types, shapes and sizes I have. I couldn’t fit them all in the basket but you get the idea. When I teach I make sure that the children don’t have to share, I have a range of sizes and also left and right handed scissors.
I use real scissors with my children. I find that the plastic ones don’t cut so from an early age all my boys have used real scissors with metal blades all that’s different to an adult pair is that they are small so they fit their hands and they have a rounded point to make sure no-one gets hurt. I always sit with my younger 2 when they are using the scissors not only to make sure they are beginning safe but to check how they are cutting.
These scissors are great. They come from Dunelm Mill and cost 1.99 for 3 different sizes. They have lots of different designs to make them appealing and although they aren’t the sharpest scissors you’ll ever use they are perfect for young children. (If you a want the scissors sharper you can use a scissor sharpener or cut used aluminium foil up as this sharpens them) The first thing I make sure is that my boys are holding the scissors right. These are more comfortable as they have a shorter hole for your thumb and a longer hole for the rest of your fingers. Being comfy helps to give them a good cutting grip. If you look at the photo Tobes is holding them properly and although his face is strained (!) his hand looks great.
The next thing I’ve been teaching the boys is that they need to use the whole of the length of the blade. A lot of the children I see in the week snip at the ends and this gives a, more often than not, ragged edge to a piece of work. I like them to open up the blades and imagine that it is a crocodile’s jaw that likes to eat away at the fabric or paper. This means they then use the whole of the length of the blade and get smoother and longer cut line.
To get them to practise have a piece of paper that’s just a little shorter than they size of the blades they are using and then ask them to cut right across in one cut. I tell my boys that the crocodile is very hungry and wants a whole bite of the paper!
Once they’ve got the idea of using the whole blade they can then move onto cutting and then manipulating their work in the other hand. This takes lots of practise and I wouldn’t ever expect them to get it right first time. What I’m doing here is giving them the knowledge of what to do but they need to practise to get the skills to be able to do this.
I gave Tobes this sheet;
I showed him on another one (always good to show the children what it is exactly that you’re asking them to do) how to cut along the lines, change direction at the corner and then go along the new line. I reminded him of the hungry crocodile taking big bites and he set off to have a go.
You can see here he’s holding the scissors correctly and just about to go around the corner. He found this difficult and became a little frustrated as he’d not done it before but he had a good go! This activity needs him to not only cut but hold the project in his other hand and move it whilst cutting. Like I said this isn’t going to become coordinated and easy in one session but he was happy to have a go!
I love the look of concentration on his face!
I didn’t worry that he may have snipped a corner off we said it was like a challenge that he could keep having a go at and it would be a real achievement if he did it one day.
I next gave him this sheet and showed him my finished spiral.
He was very excited to see this and said it look like a snake. We then came up with the idea that crocodile was eating the snake and so he set off enthusiastically cutting with large ‘bites’
Again he found this quite hard as he had to move the snake whilst he was cutting but I think it’s definitely something he could do again in the future to make another ‘snake’.
Here he is having a play with the springiness of the snake.
He liked pulling it out and watching it spring back in and he liked being able to make it flat again on the table!
Here’s the finished snake that he later hung up in his bedroom
We had a fun session cutting and I did a few things too which I’ll blog about next week as they are for older cutters. Little ones need lots and lots of practise using scissors. The very little will snip and make ‘confetti’ (a mess!) and this is fine but they do then need to move on to holding the scissors properly and using the whole of the blade to cut. There are various cutting sheets with dotted lines and shapes you can find or you can easily draw lines on a piece of paper yourself.
In this project I used some paper from a magazine and then laminated them so they would hold their shape and not rip so easily. You can use card or search online for some printed designed paper that you can print off at home to use. You can use wrapping paper, cereal packets in fact almost anything. Get them to cut different thicknesses of paper and card, try material, used aluminium foil (this will sharpen them to but is great fun!) in fact have a go at cutting lots of things because even if they can’t do it that’s a talking point too –‘Why can’t we? Is it too thick? Too difficult? Can Mummy do it?’
We had a fun 20 mins seeing what we could both do with scissors and because of the ages of boys I have 3, 5 and 8 if we all do the one activity I get to see the differentiation between them of their ages and what they can do.