This week I was in need of more scissor skill cutting papers that are used in the Montessori classrooms. Since I was printing these off, I thought I would write a post about introducing scissors and improving scissor skills as well as how to make or where to find these handy =) scissor cutting papers.
I introduced scissors to my daughter when she turned 3 years old. One exercise that is a great preparatory exercise for scissor cutting is using tongs. Using tongs strengthens the same fingers that the scissors will use and models similar movements needed to open and close the scissors. I began by saying "These are scissors. These scissors are used to cut paper. They are sharp and they cut." I demonstrated how to hold the scissors and how to open and close them. We then practiced putting the fingers into the correct holes and opening and closing the scissors. Just opening and closing the scissors takes practice and strength. I always encourage pointing the scissors up while cutting which reduces sideways cutting. Once this was successful, we moved on to cutting....straws. Straws are a lot easier than starting with paper. The straw doesn't flop like paper or require as much movement of the hand holding it. Be aware that the pieces of cut straw will go flying into the air. We cut one straw, stopped and picked up the pieces and then cut another and so on.
After a great amount of success with straw cutting we started cutting paper. These are one kind of cutting strips typically found in Montessori classrooms for scissor work. You can easily make your own with a marker or print them off the computer. The first set should be short enough that the paper is manageable for the child and the lines short enough that it can be cut with one snip. Demonstrate how to cut slow and carefully an entire cutting strip so the child can see the goal is cutting on the line.
After success with straight lines the child moves onto diagonals, peaks, curves, waves and using more than one cut/snip. (FYI The paper on the left is how it comes off the computer website, I cut it into strips like the ones on the right, the child then cuts those strips)
These cutting papers are just two of a number available (free) at this site. (I will post this at the side of the blog for future reference.)
I like to print them off onto different colored papers for less confusion (especially if you have an older and younger child). I also print the easiest on red and use the colors and order of the rainbow-easiest to hardest. This is how it is presented on the shelf. The scissors are always moved via the tray and when cutting with the scissors the basket is taken off and the scissors are used over the tray to catch the pieces. The cut pieces are then gathered and put in an envelope, which is often decorated after.