Scissor Skills Practice with Play Dough

I don't remember the first time my older 2 kids used scissors, but I know that my youngest has been cutting since she was one year-old.  Yes, one.  And not just snipping the very ends of paper, but actually using scissors to cut paper up into pieces.  

So most parents are not handing their one year-old scissors and walking away to make dinner.  I get it.  Looking back, I was probably the crazy one, but today her cutting skills are awesome.  

When my 3 year-old preschoolers walk in the door on the first day of school, many have NEVER HELD scissors before.  So to try to keep the frustration levels low and set them up for success, one of the first table top activities I introduce is practicing scissor skills with play dough!

Practice toddler and preschool scissor skills with play dough!  A fun, simple way to encourage proper scissor grip and use while cutting with fine motor skills.
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Practice Scissor Skills with Play Dough!


Gripping scissors correctly is not always easy for little kids.  Getting scissors to open and close while holding a piece of paper in the other hand is definitely not easy.  Play dough is not flimsy like paper and is heavy enough to stay in one spot on the table while little hands are trying to get those scissors working.  This is why play dough is the perfect choice for early cutting practice!

To set up this activity, the only supplies really needed are play dough and scissors (they also make play dough scissors)  But to add a higher level cutting skills (cutting on a line) to the activity, add in any roller play dough tool too!

Before beginning, we rolled out small sections of play dough to flatten them out.  Do not roll them out too much, or they will be too thin and paper-like.

Practice toddler and preschool scissor skills with play dough!  A fun, simple way to encourage proper scissor grip and use while cutting with fine motor skills.

Roll a play dough pattern making tool through the flat play dough.  To keep thing simple we rolled it right through the middle.  You can see the one we used here online.  Our other favorite one we use in my classroom is similar to this one.

At this point, you may need to help.  If your child has never really cut on a line before, or struggles to open and close the scissors, try holding the play dough for her.  You may only have to prop the beginning end up so she can get her scissors in place.

Practice toddler and preschool scissor skills with play dough!  A fun, simple way to encourage proper scissor grip and use while cutting with fine motor skills.

The pattern that we used over and over again was the wide circle maker.  The line of circles was wide enough so that one crooked cut with the scissors did not necessarily mean that your child has stopped cutting on the line completely.  Sometimes in my classroom I see my preschoolers try to start over each time they "fall off" the line they are cutting on.  This sometimes leads to snipped up paper. With play dough though, if the cutting isn't going well, just squish it back together and start again!

Practice toddler and preschool scissor skills with play dough!  A fun, simple way to encourage proper scissor grip and use while cutting with fine motor skills.

Now if you are thinking that there is no way your toddler or preschooler can cut on a line yet, just adapt the activity to fit your child's needs!

To introduce simple cutting with play dough (without the fancy play dough tools), roll the play dough into thick play dough "snakes."  Your child can cut up the snakes into as many big or little pieces as possible.  The rolls of play dough can also be snipped into over and over again.  This will help your child practice the opening and closing technique which can be difficult.

Practice toddler and preschool scissor skills with play dough!  A fun, simple way to encourage proper scissor grip and use while cutting with fine motor skills.

As with any activity involving play dough, there is no real outcome expected.  When practicing scissor skills, you are just encouraging your child to use proper scissor grip and cutting skills.  And when the object of the activity is to cut up play dough, everyone can have fun while learning!


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  Learning Letters with Playdough {Learning with Playdough Tools from Squiggles and Bubbles
  Letter Sound Activity with Play Dough Tools from Raising Little Superheroes
  Patterns and textures with Play Dough Rollers from Play & Learn Every Day
  Phases of the Moon from Edventures with Kids
  Roll and Build a Play Dough Spud from School Time Snippets
  Count & Smash Play Dough Math Activity from Stir the Wonder
  The Ultimate DIY Play Dough Kit for Toddlers and Beyond from Lemon Lime Adventures
  Play Dough Exercise for Thumb Wrap Pencil Grasp from Sugar Aunts
  Exploring Shapes with Play Dough from Life Over C's




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