Using scissors is an opportunity to increase a child’s awareness of the need to use cutting tools carefully and safely.

Why do it?

  • Being able to cut with scissors is a useful skill.
  • It requires co-ordination, strength in the fine muscles in their hands, and lots of practice.
  • The ability to use scissors helps to build confidence.
  • Once a child can use scissors there are more ways that they can be creative.

How to do it

  • You need scissors which are the right size for a child, and some play dough.
  • Play dough is an ideal material for learning to cut, because it’s soft and doesn’t slip and slide the way paper does.
  • You and your child roll some play dough ‘snakes’ for cutting.
  • Guide their hand so they only use one hand to hold the scissors. Their thumb goes through the top hole and their fingers go through the bottom one. Their thumb should always stay on top with fingers below.
  • If their hand starts to rotate while they’re trying to cut, use verbal prompts like ‘Thumb on top – where’s your thumb going?’
  • Use your fingers to show them the way the blades of the scissors open and close. Talk them through the process, ‘Open and squeeze, open and squeeze’.
  • Hold the dough for them and let them cut the dough snake.
  • They may try to use two hands to work the scissors in a ‘hedge clipper’ style. Encourage them to go back to using one hand with thumb up and fingers down. This will give them the most success in the long run.
Kutikuti Scissors
Pepa Paper
Kāri Card
Kere pokepoke, poikere Playdough
Kōnui Thumb
Matimati Finger
Ki raro Under
Ki runga Over
Huakina Open
Katia Close
Kōpēa Squeeze, press together
Whāngai kupu Prompting
Me pēnei Do it like this
Homai tō ringa Give me your hand
Tau kē! Awesome!
Kia mataara To be alert, vigilant
Kia tūpato, e te tau Be careful, my darling
Āhuahanga Shape
Arohia Notice, pay attention to
He rerekē ngā āhua These are different shapes
Pikitia Picture
Whakaahua Photograph
Porowhā Square
Porohita Circle
Porotitahi Oval
Tapatoru Triangle
Tapawhā Rectangle
Ka rawe Excellent