• Texarkana Therapy Center

Learning to Cut with Scissors

Updated: Apr 22




During evaluations I have noticed parents are often surprised that their 2-3-year-old should know how to use scissors and cut paper at this age. The majority of the time I get “I have never given my child scissors”, which is understandable due to safety concerns. Many people do not realize a child should be cutting before kindergarten. Working on cutting skills in a one-on-one setting at therapy or at home will prepare the child to safely use scissors.

Coordinated scissor usage is dependent upon a foundation of good posture, sufficient hand strength, good eye-hand coordination, sequencing, attention, and use of both arms together. If a child is struggling with cutting skills, there could be a problem with one or more of these components. Cutting helps improve muscles in the hand for later skills such as writing.





Developmental Progression:

2-3 years child should be able to make snips with scissors with supervision from adult

3 years=snip forward along a line and make several snips in paper

4 years=smoother, consecutive cuts across paper and cut along a thick line

4-5 years=cut curved line, cut shapes (circle, triangle, square of atleast 3 inches wide without assistance)

6-7 years=cut complex shapes, cut with adult scissors with supervision



Activity Development:

Always supervise child until safely using scissors

Start with strengthening hands and understanding squeezing motion of scissors by using tongs and squeeze tools (serving tongs, chip clips, squirt bottles, clothespins, eye droppers, small tongs, tweezers,etc.)


  • Progress to using bubble tongs/scissor tongs to pick up items

  • Afterwards progress to snipping playdoh with plastic play doh scissors (roll into a snake and snip several pieces)

  • Progress to snipping with child safety scissors or spring loaded scissors with correct placement to snip variety of items (straws, construction paper, brown sacks)

  • Progress to cutting short, thick lines (paint samples are great, bookmark size paper)

  • Progress to cutting across paper and long lines (start with thicker lines drawn with marker to more narrow lines)

  • After child has mastered around 4-5 years old start cutting curved lines and shapes (can use stickers to make a shape or draw shapes on paper)

  • Color, cut, and paste activities are great for ages 4-6

Tips for Success:


  • Make sure child is sitting up straight with arms close to side

  • Helpful to start with child sitting on floor where he/she cannot rest arms on a table or chair

  • Place a file folder or piece of paper under child’s arm to keep arm tucked into side, child should not be moving arm up and down or pointing elbow up

  • Position of hand holding scissors should ALWAYS be thumbs pointing up and cutting away from body

  • Place a sticker or draw a smiley face on paper for helper hand (hand holding paper, non-dominant hand) (this teaches correct placement of hand not cutting to hold paper)

  • Make sure scissors fit the child’s hands




Article by: Kylie Hinton, OTR

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Texarkana Therapy Center is a pediatric therapy clinic located in Texarkana Texas. We are committed to seeing our children grow, learn, and excel in all areas of their lives. Our team offers a multi-disciplinary approach through speech, physical, and occupational therapy. We are dedicated to providing exceptional care in a loving and nurturing environment for our patients and families.

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