1- Begin with good scissors. i.e the blade is not too long, scissors are easy to open. Use Left-handed scissors for left- handed children (the blade opens up on the opposite side). Personally I like Fiskars with the round thumb opening and oval (wider) opening for other fingers.


2- Position fingers correctly. This means make sure children use a thumbs up approach when cutting. Most children do not pay attention to the positioning of scissors…teach it! I show them the different sized holes and I tell them that the thumb goes in the small opening and other fingers in the larger opening. Teach it, teach it, teach it!!!


Correct finger positioning


3- While cutting, make sure children keep the thumb up (ie the wrist is supinated, never pronated), their arm close to the body and the wrist in neutral (never flexed).

pronated cut

Incorrect finger positioning 


4- Begin with resistive mediums such as playdoh, straws, card stock then graduate to thinner paper.

5- Always start with Prep activities to cutting. Here are some that I use: I like putty for strengthening and finger awareness. I also use tools that mimic the open/ close motion of scissors or mimic the cause and effect of squeezing a tool to get an outcome ex: hole puncher, spray bottle, clothespins, tweezers, egg holder, grabber.


6- For beginners I  highlight a thick line where they have to cut.


7-  If a child has a hard time cutting during art project and I want him to still be part of the art project, I use a highlighter to draw a square or circle frame around the picture.

frame cut


8- Teach cutting in the following order: snip, cut across paper, cut on a straight line, zig zag, curve. For shapes I like to teach square, triangle, circle then complex shape.

9- I like to verbally cue children with a little song as they cut…I’ll say open and close open and close and stop, now turn, open and close etc…I will also remind them to stay on the road!!!

10-  Kids can become so focused on the “open and close” motion that they don’t always realize where the scissor is cutting… so I teach it! Are you on the road?


off road

Are you on the road? “No!”

on road

Are you on the road? “Yes!”…so we cut

11- If the paper is too large, cut around it, to make it easier for children to manipulate.

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5 Responses to “CUTTING- Everything you need to know!”

  1. Julie Woo says:

    Wow! Nicely written and put together with the photos! Great info for parents and teachers! :) From one OT to another :)

  2. Abby says:

    Great list! This is such a great resource for parents!

  3. Karen says:

    Is tearing not traditionally considered the first form of “cutting”?

    • admin says:

      Tearing is a bilateral activity that we use as a precursor to cutting. With tearing both hands remain static however with cutting hands are dynamic. A child has to master the open/closing motion of the scissor while moving forward with both hands across the paper.

  4. Claire says:

    Really helpful. Thank you. Some great tips to try.


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