Scissor skills are important for kids to master, but cutting paper can get boring. Try these 9 non-paper cutting activities for preschoolers using free and found materials.
Cutting activities for preschoolers – beyond paper
We all have to learn how to use scissors, but it can quickly get tedious.
Hold the paper. Snip the scissors. Hold the paper. Snip the scissors. Hold the paper. Snip the scissors. 👉🏼 Repeat forever.
BUT, what if you change what your child is cutting? Cutting a piece of standard copy paper over and over isn’t thrilling, but cutting a fresh sprig of cilantro? Ribbons from a party? PASTA?
Changing what you are cutting can take scissor practice from “ehh” to “OH, YEAH!”
Related: For additional fine motor fun, check out our amazing collection of GIANT 10-foot coloring banners!
Why we love cutting activities for preschoolers
Kids are often fascinated with scissors. The power they wield! The snips and the snaps!
We want kids to not only develop scissor skills because it will help them with their independence and adaptive skills down the line, but we also want them to feel confident. Any opportunity we have in the classroom for kids to strengthen their cutting skills is an opportunity we’re going to take.
More fun fine motor ideas:
- Squeegee Painting – hello, Wonderful
- Cereal Necklaces – Entertain Your Toddler
- Hammering Activity – Sugar, Spice, and Glitter
Bring your littles outside, grab a pair of scissors, and let them chop away at your greenery! Cutting grass is a low-risk activity because it will grow back in a few days if your child cuts too much.
Plus, the smell. Cutting fresh blades of grass releases their Earthy scent, which adds an additional sensory layer.
Leaves: Fall leaves, Spring leaves, big leaves, small leaves – they’re all perfect! Leaves come in various shapes, sizes, and colors and can add a fun visual appeal to the activity.
We love taking the kids on a long walk, collecting fallen leaves along the way, and then bringing them back for choppin’ up.
Both are smooth, soft, and easy to slice through, making kids feel extra confident in their cutting skills. We love rolling our dough into “snake” shape logs and letting the kids cut them into small chunks.
While some stores sell scissors specifically for play dough, we’re big fans of using regular scissors for this activity (and all others).
Linguini, penne, rigatoni, and everything in between is a YES! For hollow noodles, cook them first so they’re easier to slice through, but for linguini or spaghetti noodles, try those cooked or uncooked.
Also, for extra drama, if you boil your noodles in colored water, then your noodles will be colored. How cool is that?!
I am a sucker for fresh flowers (especially at Trader Joe’s). I love indulging in all of the colorful goodness and when they get wilted and it’s time to toss ’em, instead them to kids with scissors. Cutting the leaves, stems, and petals is so satisfying, as the kids say.
The way that I look at it is that when I buy flowers for myself, it ends up becoming an activity for the children. So, fresh flowers make you a better teacher because it’s for the children.
We’re big fans of using “fresh” curling ribbons from the spool or using ribbons on presents after a party! They sound, feel, and look inviting, and because they’re so thin, kids only need to do a small snip and they’re successful.
So, having a party and saving the gift ribbons can mean that you did it for the children. Say it with me: “This party makes me a better teacher.” I can see you’re getting this!
While they technically are paper, they’re much more interesting to cut up than copy paper. The pages are shiny, full of color, and there are hundreds of photos to look at…yes, yes, yes!
If you don’t have magazines, it’s usually easy to acquire some. At our school, we ask the families to send in any parenting, food, or nature magazines that they have, and usually we get more than we need. Call your local dentist or orthodontist if you’re not in a classroom because they often have subscriptions and toss their old copies.
And all that junk mail you get? Chop 👏🏼 it 👏🏼 up. 👏🏼
Whether you use paper or plastic, both work here! Instead of letting all those fantastic little pieces go to waste, save them and invite your child to use them to make necklaces. Straws have wide holes so they make lacing necklaces super easy.
Plus, when you cut straws (especially plastic ones), they pop off and fly around the room and kids find this hilarious.
My very favorite for last! Cutting fresh herbs is sensory heaven. Think about how delicious fresh mint, cilantro, and rosemary smell (mmm!) and imagine that during a learning activity. It’s the best of both worlds.
Note: buying fresh herbs is expensive. So, you can plant a small herb garden or, better yet, find friends with gardens. When I meet new people and they mention they have a garden? Guess who just became my new best friend.
Our favorite scissors for preschool cutting activities
At our school, Miss Michelle introduces scissor skills. After trying what feels like every pair of child scissors in the universe, she always recommends the blunt-tip ones from Lakeshore (not an affiliate link).
She loves these scissors so much that we also have our preschool families purchase a pair for home use.
The bunt-tip scissors from Lakeshore have the right size blades, are perfectly sized, are not pointed and sharp on the ends, and are easy to use.
With any new skill, variety makes it more exciting!
There is undoubtedly a time and place for cutting on paper, and it’s the most important material to learn how to cut on. We want scissor practice to be engaging and exciting, and if you find your child is losing interest, reengage them with one of the new materials listed above!
The best part about early childhood is that we get to introduce all kinds of real-world skills, and making scissor practice something to look forward to will have a life-long impact.
Endless options for cutting activities for preschoolers
What are you going to try first? Play dough? Cooked pasta? Your neighbor’s rosemary?
We can’t wait to see it!
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