Using scissors is a skill that preschoolers need to know, and one of the best ways to practice this is by cutting Play-Doh with your toddler.
If your toddlers are like mine, anytime I bring out Play-Doh or make a batch of homemade playdough, they go crazy. They spend hours at the kitchen table with forks, spoons, and different dough cutters. So when my two-year-old wanted to learn how to use scissors, I introduced Play-Doh cutting.
It’s a hit, and I don’t know why I never tried this simple trick earlier.
Many preschoolers go to school without the skills to use scissors, and this is one way to ensure your kids know how to use them properly.
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Why is Scissor Practice So Important?
Aside from being a skill preschoolers use in school, knowing how to use scissors is essential for several other reasons.
1. It Builds Up Muscles
Our hands contain muscles that need to be strengthened, and using scissors builds up these tiny muscles. So each time your child opens and closes their hand, it’s like a little workout.
2. It Encourages Hand-Eye Coordination
Hand-eye coordination is one of the big skill developments that need to be practiced by toddlers and preschoolers. They need to see and watch what they’re cutting while moving their hands. In addition, this coordination helps the overall development that they’ll need for numerous other tasks.
3. Your Child Uses Bilateral Coordination
Bilateral coordination means your child uses both sides of their body at the same time. For example, when it comes to cutting with scissors, your child has to hold paper or dough (in this case) and cut with the other hand.
4. It’s a Precursor to Handwriting
These skills will help later as your child develops and practices using a pencil and writing.
When Should You Introduce Scissors to Your Child?
Using scissors is an important skill for preschoolers as they work on arts and crafts at school. However, the development of this skill takes years, so it requires plenty of patience.
Plan to introduce small, age-appropriate scissors between 18 months and two-year-olds. That is a great age to start cutting Play-Doh!
By the time your child is three to four years old, they’ll have the skills to use small scissors to cut out larger objects and straight lines. However, Scissor skills, especially the ability to cut out small details, won’t be fully developed until six years of age or more!
Practice Scissor Skills by Cutting Play Doh
Have you ever considered all of the skills kids need to cut a piece of paper?
They have to grip the scissors correctly while opening and closing their hands AND hold a piece of paper in the right direction. It takes developed fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Cutting Play-Doh is a great idea because it’s not flimsy like paper, and it’s heavy enough to stay in the same spot while your child cuts with scissors. Your child has the opportunity to practice their scissor grip and the opening and closing before adding the paper into the mix.
One of the hardest things for little kids to develop is holding the scissors horizontally rather than vertically. If you watch a child learning how to use scissors for the first time, most want to use them straight up and down. Learning the proper directions is one of the first things your child needs to learn to be successful.
How to Set Up Play Doh Cutting
Setting up playdough cutting is so easy. All you need is Play-Doh and scissors – we like to use scissors meant for cutting playdough because they have fun little designs.
I also give my kids other tools like rollers and cutters for a complete activity set-up. We keep all kinds of playdough accessories on hand.
Start by breaking off pieces of the dough and flatten them out. You don’t want to make them too thin; the scissors will cut through regardless. Another idea is to roll a playdough pattern tool through the flattened piece.
Give your child the scissors; if he’s never held scissors, show him the proper fingers to use and how to open and close the scissors. You might need to hold the dough up at first to make it easier to cut.
If you use the pattern tool, your child can make straight cuts through the dough or cut through the pattern. Another fun modification of this activity is to roll the Play-Doh out like a snake and cut little chunks off. My kids love this one!
The snake is the best way to introduce this activity for kids who have never held scissors. If you want to add a different aspect to this activity, make indents that your child needs to follow the snake while cutting.
Once they cut through the dough, squish it back together and start again.
The 4 Best Play-Doh Scissors
If you want to grab some playdough scissors, I keep a few of our favorite options for my kids.
1. Melissa & Dough Cut, Sculpt & Roll
I love anything by Melissa & Doug, and my kids love their Cut, Sculpt & Roll kit. These wooden tools are sturdy, and the price is great. The set contains two pattern wheels, two playdough scissors, two dough cutters, and four tubs of model dough.
Your kids will love this!
2. Crayola My First Safety Scissors
If you want something a bit more basic, consider the Crayola My First Safety Scissors. The set includes three safety scissors that won’t hurt your child, and each pair of scissors cuts a different style – straight, wavy, and zigzag. These scissors are recommended for kids three years old and up.
3. Colorations Dough Scissors – Set of 12
If you’re like me and have multiple kids, you know that they will fight over ANYTHING. That’s why I typically buy sets of craft tools that have more than one in them. I specifically like when the sets have more of the same thing. So, if my daughter wants what my oldest has, she can use it.
The Coloration Dough Scissors comes with 12 scissors in total – there are three designs with four scissors for each design. The designs are: straight, scalloped, and zigzag.
4. Strokes Art Dough Tools – 15 Piece Set
Strokes Art Tools are an awesome, affordable set of dough tools that will give your preschooler hours of fun. The set includes three playdough scissors, shape molds, and more. All of them are made out of durable plastic.
Kids should have fun learning how to use scissors, and my kids think cutting Play-Doh is great. They could spend hours with this simple activity, making it a huge win for mom!