A Cut Above
Summer can be a great time to work on children’s academic and fine motor skills. A really fun way to accomplish both of those is with activities that help improve scissor skills. Scissor skills are an important part of every child’s early childhood development. Although most of us recognize that fact, we don’t always realize why children need scissor skills. Aside from the obvious use of scissors, there is also a relationship between scissor skills and writing, and then between writing and reading. Research shows that children who struggle with scissors, will often struggle in correctly forming letters, and children who can’t form letters correctly may have trouble reading. Unfortunately this can lead to frustration, and some children develop a dislike of not only writing, but also reading.
Some Summer Time Scissor Activities…
Clay Play: Part of the success of cutting and writing, is the strength of children’s fingers. One of the best materials for working those finger muscles is clay. The clay takes much more strength to manipulate, therefore providing children with great opportunities for finger muscles — a great warm up for cutting. Want to add a summer twist, play with your clay in the summer sun, as it melts kids can squish and smoosh it. If you are using colored clay swirl and meld together to create new colors or a tie-dye effect.
Play-Doh Cutting: Kids new to scissors or you are not ready for little pieces of cut paper everywhere – try Play-Doh with a pair of plastic scissors. Keeping scissors straight, and applying the appropriate pressure to cut through paper can be incredibly challenging for some children. The amazing thing about play dough and plastic scissors is no matter how you cut, you succeed! This is another wonderful outside activity, perfect for downtime in the shade when it is really hot outside or perfect for occupying hours during a rainy day.
Play-Doh Line Cutting: Want to create ‘lines’ for your child to follow? I use cookie cutters, and instead of pushing all the way through depress half-way. This leaves an ‘outline’ for children to follow with their scissors to practice cutting along lines. Give a plastic knife and let them create their own outline to cut.
Basic Cutting: Give children leftovers from when you wrap gifts, such as scraps of paper, ribbon, cards, envelopes and some scissors and just let them cut to their heart’s content. Worried about clean up – sit them in a wading pool (with or without water) or on a blanket. Cutting ribbon into water seem like a big mess – not when you end play time by handing out sieves to collect the scraps!
Cut and Collage: Want to use those cut up ribbon, cards, envelopes and paper scraps? Give children white glue and a cardboard (use a side of the cereal box), and let them create a colorful collage. Transform into wall art but gluing a cardboard frame to the top of the collage – which also provides more blank space for adding all those cut pieces!
Snip and Weave: To reuse holiday or birthday cards, with your child make small snips (cuts) around the edges of the card. Then, give your child yarn to weave or wrap around. The weaving helps to develop fine motor skills necessary for both cutting and writing. Variation: Use hole punch to turn old cards into lacing cards. Summer Twist: Purchase flat sponges that expand when water is added (found in educational supply magazines, or find thin sponges at the door store – after children have finished cutting them in to desired shapes, give them a bucket of water for a wet sponge fight!
Paper Trail Game: For older children, put them in the charge of creating a cut paper (ribbon, yarn) trail for you or younger siblings to follow leading to a hiding spot. What about the mess? Give the finder a basket, and have them pick up paper pieces (you can even get creative of how the pieces are to be picked up) as they venture down the path. Try chopsticks for pick up – this also increases their fine motor skills and strengthens their pincher grasps.
In my 15 years in providing childcare and teaching preschool, I never met a kid that didn’t like to play with scissors. However, this love can quickly turn to frustration and discouragement when lines are introduced. Practice really does make perfect, and summer is the perfect time to provide children that practice.
Copyright 2014, Allison Gingras, M.Ed.
This is a guest post from blogging friend Allison! Allison Gingras is a Catholic blogger, inspirational speaker, and radio host. Allison founded Reconciled To You (RTY) ministries in 2009 to share the wonder and awe of living the Catholic faith, and to encourage others how they can do same. RTY accomplishes this through radio, day retreats, presentations, social media, books, blogs and Apps. Allison’s radio show, Catholic 24/7 offers inspiration through your radio, computer or smart phone. Her faith sharing book: “Three Persons, One God: Growing in Relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, encourages people to reconcile their idea of who they believe God to be, with what is taught through Scripture and Tradition. Allison has also developed the Words with Jesus App, Seeking Faith retreat series, and Social Media BLINK series on Catholic TV. For more on Allison and RTY, visit www.ReconciledtoYou.com