Cutting Activities for Preschoolers (with Free Printable Activities!)

Introducing your preschooler to scissors? We’ve got a list of super fun cutting activities for preschoolers to help them learn how to use scissors in fun, safe, and easy way. Read on for our best ideas, (written by a preschool teacher!)

As a preschool teacher, there are two school readiness skills I would love for kids to come in with- using scissors and using glue.

Unfortunately, these can be SUPER intimidating for parents, and I often see kids coming in without those crucial scissor skills.

Teaching kids to use scissors doesn’t have to be so scary though! We have lots of amazing cutting activities for preschoolers– along with safety tips for parents!- that will help your kids learn to use scissors safely and in fun ways.

Read on for our favorite cutting activities for preschoolers!

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How to Teach Your Preschooler to Use Scissors

Okay first up: teaching a preschooler to use scissors is intimidating for a reason. Little kids could cause big destruction with those scissors if you’re not careful!

safety scissors; strips of paper

Before you begin, it’s important to teach your preschooler some important scissor safety skills. Here are the basics:

  • Keep scissors up high- we treat scissors as a dangerous weapon in our house, and in my classroom. They are stored where kids can’t get them to avoid unnecessary damage to property. Kids should only use scissors with direct supervision.
  • Review what to cut- emphasize right from the beginning that scissors are only used to cut paper, or something mom or dad actively says is okay. Explicitly teach that scissors are not for hair, clothes, furniture, or our friends/brothers/sisters’ activities.
  • Holding and handling scissors- Teach children that scissors should be used sitting down, and that you should hold the blade when walking with scissors or passing them. Practice handing scissors back and forth a few times before giving them anything to cut.
  • Hold boundaries firm- Teaching preschoolers to use scissors is a big deal. Hold your safety rules firm. If the rules aren’t followed, the scissors are put away.

Teaching Preschoolers the Right Way to Hold Scissors

Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to hold scissors- and it really matters!

kids using scissors

Here are the basics for using scissors, if it’s been a while since you learned how 🙂

  • Scissors are held with the thumb in the small opening on the scissor handle, and two-three fingers in the larger opening.
  • The thumb should always be facing up when cutting. You can teach this by putting a small sticker or nail polish on the thumb side of the scissors, or by drawing a smiley face on your child’s thumbnail with a marker.
  • Keep elbows in! This helps with stability and scissor movement. If your child is having a hard time, they can hold a manila folder between their elbow and their body to practice.

Early Scissor Skills Practice for Preschoolers

When your child is first learning to use scissors, it’s going to be too hard for them to practice cutting out shapes, or even cutting on a straight line.

child cutting paper

Instead, practice with some non-standard cutting activities first to practice opening and closing the scissors.

Here are some of the best activities to teach kids to use scissors.

Cutting Playdough

This is one of the best first cutting activities for kids! The playdough is thick enough to really practice opening and closing the scissors. You can also use playdough scissors first if you are worried about your child learning with sharper scissors.

playdouhg with tools

We recommend using homemade playdough for this. The texture is a little better than store bought for scissors. Here’s our favorite homemade playdough recipe.

You can also add scissors to your cloud dough sensory bins, or practice using them with our fluffy slime recipe.

Cutting Spaghetti

In this fun activity, kids will cut dyed spaghetti into little pieces. (Learn how to dye spaghetti for sensory play here!)

cutting rainbow dyed spaghetti

There’s no product, and nothing to keep- just good old fashioned scissor practice!

Cutting Scrap Paper

Kids will cut paper into smaller pieces. You can give them one sheet of paper- red, for example- to cut into small pieces.

heart mosaic made with paper scraps

They can then use these scraps to make a mosaic of a shape, like an apple, drawn on a paper.

Cutting Crepe Paper

Grab a roll of crepe paper from the dollar store and let your child cut it into pieces. You can toss the scraps, or use them in an art project like above.

Cut the Grass

Okay, this one is a little out there- but my kids always LOVED cutting the grass outside with scissors!

child cutting grass with scissors

They can trim the lawn, plant a cup of grass just for trimming, or cut flowers or leaves off of plants if you’re okay with that.

Cutting Paper Doll “Hair”

Kids can practice opening and shutting scissors by trimming the hair on these paper cup “dolls.”

paper doll haircut activity

It’s a novel activity- meaning they’re going to LOVE it- and it’ll get lots of good practice in, too!

Free Printable Cutting Practice for Preschoolers

Ready to start practicing lines and simple shapes? It’s best to practice on something that’s not a project. Practicing on paper strips helps reduce pressure and frustration.

text: scissor skills ebook. grab your printable practice sheets here.

Grab these free printable cutting practice pages and help your toddler or preschooler learn to cut lines and curves.

More Cutting Activities for Preschoolers

Once your preschooler has better scissor skills, they’ll be ready to start using scissors to make projects. Here are some cutting activities for preschoolers to help them practice:

Collage Card Making

We almost never buy cards for birthday parties, opting to make cards ourselves. This activity serves two purposes. First, it gives my kids frequent, repeated practice using scissors and glue.

And more importantly- I don’t have to buy cards, thus saving me a BUNCH of money. First, I do a quick search and let my child help pick a few images related to the birthday theme, or the birthday child’s interests. Print the images, leaving lots of space around each one.

collage materials

Then my kids cut out the images and glue them onto a piece of folded construction paper. Younger kids will likely need the added help of parent-drawn lines. Use straight lines for kids newer to scissors, or add in curves for more advanced practice. Kids who are good with scissors already can free-cut the images.

Related Post: Printable Birthday Cards for Kids to Color

Make a Craft

Preschoolers love making thing “all by themselves.” Take advantage by setting up crafts for them to complete, made of simple shapes.

unicorn paper craft

Take this unicorn paper plate craft, for example. Kids will cut triangles, circles, and yarn, as well as assembling a cute little product to put on the fridge.

Cutting Up Grocery Ads

One of my favorite ways to help my kids practice their scissor skills is by giving them the weekly grocery ads that come in the mail to chop up. Go through the ad together and ask them to pick an item they’d like to buy at the grocery store.

preschooler cutting practice using grocery ad

Trace around the item with a bold, black marker and ask your child to cut it out. When they do, you can help them glue the picture to your weekly shopping list.

finished grocery ad craft on paper plate

You can also glue pictures to a paper plate to make a “meal,” cut out and sort healthy/unhealthy foods, etc. The grocery ads coming each week are an excellent reminder to do a cutting activity with your preschooler.

Find more details (as well as how to incorporate literacy into this activity!) at our post, FREE Cutting and Pasting Activity Using Grocery Ads.

Free Printable Cutting Activities for Preschoolers

There are TONS of free, printable cutting activities for preschoolers out there!

themed scissor practice strip

We love this spring themed scissor practice from Fun-A-Day. With varying difficulty, you can find the right strips for your child’s level.

Cutting Practice Using Magazines

For more advanced scissor-users, you can ask that they find images they like in a magazine and cut them out. My daughter Lila, for example, is very into fashion. We folded a few sheets of printer paper into a book, and wrote “Lila’s Boutique Catalog” on the front.

After I’ve finished with a magazine, I’ll have her go through and cut out any outfits that she’d like to feature in her “boutique.” She pastes them into her “Catalog,” and often spends her quiet time looking through the outfits she’s collected in this book.

child making collage from magazines

You can also do the same with images your child likes. Have them create a book of “Jacob’s Favorite Things” or “Tessa’s Favorite Foods.” The options are endless, and will allow for both a scissor skills practice and a homemade addition to your bookshelf that your child can “Read” on their own.

Make A Zoo Cutting Activity for Preschoolers

Here’s another fun one: next time you’re in AAA or at a hotel, grab a few brochures from the lobby. Kids can then cut out pictures of places they want to go, making a scrapbook of ideas.

Or, if you can get your hands on a zoo brochure, have your child make a “Zoo” out of images cut from the brochure.

toddler gluing animals onto paper zoo

Get full details on this make a zoo cutting activity here, along with ideas on how to incorporate more fine motor skills.

printable activity sheets; text: explore and learn transportation activity pack

Buy a Scissor Skills Workbook

Look, we can have ambitions of being fun, crafty moms all we want. Sometimes, we just need to have cutting activities for preschoolers on hand so that when we are in a scissor-brave mood, we can strike while the iron is hot.

Here are our scissor skills workbooks:

printable activity sheets; text: explore and learn transportation activity pack
  • The Salty Mamas’ Printable Activity Packs: Look, we made them for a reason: we wanted easy, interesting cutting practice for kids available anytime we wanted them. Each one comes with cutting and gluing activities for kids, along with a full page guide for each activity with ways to further the learning.
  • Melissa and Doug Scissor Skills Book: This is one of our favorite buy-and-go books. The pictures are bright, engaging, and go from easy to difficult.
  • Kumon’s Let’s Cut Paper: This one isn’t quite as fun as Melissa and Doug or ours (we’re just saying), but you’ll get some solid scissor practice in.
  • Alex Craft Kit: This school readiness kit from Alex is a great way to encourage kids to start using scissors.

So there you have it- easy cutting activities for preschoolers who are learning to use scissors. Keep it fun, low stress, and engaging- this isn’t something you want you or your kids stressing over!- and your preschooler will have lots of opportunities to practice scissor skills before they start preschool or kindergarten.

Looking for more fin motor skills activiites for your preschooler? Head here next-

text: scissor skills ebook. grab your printable practice sheets here.