Unlock the power of Soc-Emotional Learning- FREE GUIDE

Preschool Cutting Tips

Let’s get cutting!  Cutting skills and preschool go hand in hand. Many times it is the first time that children have been allowed to use scissors.

So, it’s important that we understand the continuum in which children’s cutting skills develop.  To make it a little easier to remember, I created a printable Preschool Cutting Continuum graphic (see the picture below) that you can print and keep on hand (see the bottom of this post for a link)! 

The steps of the Cutting Continuum include:

  1. Builds Fine Motor Muscles and the Open and Shut motion.
  2. Holds scissors correctly when getting ready to cut.
  3. Snips paper while being held by someone else or when on the table.
  4. Uses the opposite hand as a helping hand when snipping.
  5. Cuts a straight line.
  6. Cuts a curved line.
  7. Cuts a circle.
  8. Cuts complex shapes.

Tips for Cutting Obstacles 

The biggest thing to keep in mind when working with young children and cutting is to back up in the continuum when struggles arise.  For example…

  • If a child is struggling to open and shut the scissors, step back to the building fine motor muscles step. Move away from using scissors (for the moment) and encourage the use of fun tools that children can use to build the muscles needed for the open and shut motion, such as…
    • tweezers
    • tongs
    • bug catchers
    • eye droppers
    • hole punches (reduced-effort)
    • clothespins
    • turkey basters
  • If a child is struggling to hold the scissors correctly, but shows a strong open and shut motion, work in a small group or one on one where you can be available to correct the grasp.
    • If a child holds the scissors upside down, consider placing a sticker on the thumb edge of the scissors. Explain that when cutting the child should always be able to see the sticker near their thumb.
    • You can also sing a song to remind children to hold their scissors correctly. This song is to the tune Frere Jacques. “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Up, When we Cut, When we Cut. We can cut with scissors, We can cut with scissors. Open and Shut. Open and Shut.”
    • If a child holds his/her elbow out to the side while cutting (which can make  the scissors turn to the side – making it harder for the scissor blades to cut), try placing a folder under the arm and having the child hold the folder down with their arm while cutting. This should fix the elbow out, scissors turned problem.
  • If a child can snip, but doesn’t yet use their other hand to support the paper, it’s time to teach them! Many times children don’t realize what to do to hold the paper.
    • If needed, place a small chart sticker on the paper where the child should place the thumb of their supporting hand while holding the paper.
    • Teach them to not grasp too close to where they are cutting to keep their fingers from getting in the way.

Grab your own copy of the Cutting Continuum and some Free Cutting Strips!

Free Literacy Training

Learn about the three mistakes to avoid (and what to do instead) when implementing literacy into your early learning classroom.

Thank you for subscribing!


I love helping preschool teachers be the best they can be, by providing quality resources and sharing fun ideas!

If you’re looking for play-based learning ideas, free trainings and all things preschool – you are in the right place!