Choosing scissors for your preschooler

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on July 14, 2010

in Physical Development, Quick Tips for Preschool Teachers, Teaching Tools and Resources

Sometimes, it is easy to just grab a pair of kid scissors from the store shelf without thinking about whether or not they really are the best scissors for kids to work with. While visiting this preschool, I observed some children cutting and realized that there were an odd assortment of scissors on the table.  I also noticed that children were pretty selective in which scissors they wanted to cut with (and it wasn’t because of color) so I wondered about the quality of scissors. I decided to check the scissors out myself…

Version #1

This pair of scissors do not open and close. Instead, this pair always remain open and to cut, the child squeezes the handles close then lets go. The edge seemed sharp enough but you have to really give a good squeeze to actually get the scissors to cut the paper…

I wasn’t thrilled that these scissors did not invite the children to work on the open and close skill of using scissors and I also felt that the scissors did not promote good control over the direction a child would want to cut. The focus would only be on squeezing the scissors and letting go…

Update: But as a reader pointed out in the comments below, the scissors (shown above) may be a very good choice for children with special needs. She says scissors are not a “one size fits all” kind of deal!

Version #2

This pair of scissors is surrounded by a plastic covering along the blade. It was almost impossible to cut with this pair unless you cut using only the back corner of the scissors…

This pair of scissors just folded the paper and didn’t cut it at all…

Version #3

This pair of scissors had a thick plastic covering which made it quite challenging to see what I was cutting while using them.

This pair of scissors cut fairly easily and the grip was comfortable but the thickness of the scissors seemed to block your view. It was hard to see what you were cutting which doesn’t lead to truly mastering eye-hand coordination as part of the cutting process…

Version #4

This pair of scissors was certainly the most ordinary looking pair of scissors…

This pair of scissors cut easily and smoothly and the handle was comfortable to hold…


My unscientific study of the scissors in this basket resulted in the following…

  • Pair #1 seemed to be the most usable for teaching children how to cut properly, they had a good blade, and seemed to be the best pair for promoting eye-hand coordination.
  • Pair #2 came in second for being sharp enough to cut well. I could see how it also helps to build fine muscle strength and may work better for children with special needs but they are pretty tough to squeeze closed.
  • Pair #3 came in third for having a sharp enough blade for cutting but I felt the handle was too large to see the paper under the scissors. The thickness of the scissors seem to be more about looks over function.
  • Pair #4 came in last. It was just a frustrating pair of scissors to try and cut paper with. It was easier just to tear the paper. I would use a pair like this in the play-dough center!

Read more cutting with scissors tips here!

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