At around age two (maybe 2 ½), I like to show them how to use blunt toddler scissors with my assistance. They usually can cut a few inches before their little fingers get tired. This is another fine motor activity to help strengthen their finger muscles.Between ages two and three, toddlers usually have the hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and strength needed to make their first cuts.
CAUTION NOTE: Scissors are never left unattended by me and always stored out of reach in a locked cabinet when done for the day. I stick them in my apron pocket or place them up high if I step away from the art table.
How do I teach them?
To start, you will need child size, blunt-tip scissors that open and close easily. Place the little one’s thumb through the round top hole, his index finger, along with the middle and ring fingers through that bottom oval hole. Some scissors have enough space in the bottom oval hole for all four fingers to fit. I usually have the little one stand right next to me or sit on my lap. While placing your hand over the little one’s cutting hand, practice with the little one to open and shut the scissors as we say “open & shut” together -- and make sure their other hand is out of the way. You can demonstrate by opening and shutting you hand like a mouth. Sometimes it helps to see how you use the scissors in your hands.
Once the little one gets the idea of opening and shutting the scissors, practice on a piece of paper. Guide the little one’s hand (placing your hand over the little one’s cutting hand) while you are holding the paper in front of the both of you. Tell the little one to open the scissors while you slide the paper between the blades. When they are first learning, I tell them to open when I say, “open” and “shut” when I say shut. This gives you a chance to move the paper and your fingers as the little one does each cut. I usually have them start out with making fringes on the edge of the paper. I might draw lines on the paper to give them a guide. As they get better, they do best with straight lines and then advance to curvy lines.
Again, the scissors are never left unattended even after they have learned to cut on their own. I am always sitting right next to them as they are cutting. When the cutting portion of the art activity is complete, the scissors are placed in my apron pocket or placed up high.