Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cut It Out

Did you ever stop and think of all the different skills that are used to cut out a circle? First you have to figure out how to hold the scissors - (motor planning). Then you have to be able to open and close them (separation of the strength side of the hand [ring & pinky fingers] from the skill side of the hand [thumb, index & middle fingers]). You also have to be able to hold and move the paper with one hand while you open, close, and guide the scissors with the other hand (bilateral control, visual motor integration). That's a lot to think about before you even attempt to cut on a line or around a shape.

Scissor skills develop in a particular order:
1. making random cuts
2. making consecutive cuts with a forward movement (i.e. snipping along the edge of a piece of paper)
3. cutting along a straight line
4. cutting along a straight line with one change of direction
5. cutting along straight lines with more than one change of direction (squares, diamonds)
6. cutting along a curved line
7. cutting out a circle
8. cutting out shapes with both straight and curved lines

While a child is still learning to cut, the wider the line and the simpler the shape the more success he/she will have. Start with a line at least a 1/2 inch thick. When he/she has mastered that, go to a 1/4 inch, then 1/8 inch. As a child develops more skill and control over the scissors, the width of the line should narrow and the complexity of the shape should increase.

Here's a little rhyme to remind children how to hold the scissors in the proper thumb on top position: "Fingers on the bottom, thumb on top. Open up the scissors and chop, chop, chop."