Array Early Scissor Skills Practice | Montessori From The Heart
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Early Scissor Skills Practice

DIY cardboard Car Wash Early Scissors Skill practice

DIY cardboard car-wash early scissor skills practice to promote bilateral coordination, fine motor control, and straight-line cutting accuracy.

Have you wondered when you should introduce your child to scissors? While your 1.5-year-old might learn to hold scissors, often using both hands to open and close the blades, a 2-year old could master opening and closing the scissors with one hand. (Remember to encourage a “thumbs up” position while holding the scissors.) At first, offer to cut soft play dough or cooked pasta. Then, offer to make small snips on the paper. (Snips are short cuts and are different from moving forward on the paper with scissors.) Finally, as a child approaches the 3-year mark, s/he might be able to make snips on paper while moving the scissor forward across the paper. (Keep the paper size short at first ~ about 5 inches long). Besides, your 3.5-year-old is learning to use a “helping hand” or non-dominate hand to hold the paper while cutting with their dominant hand. And make scissors activities exciting! This DIY cardboard car wash is a fun early scissors skills practice to master longer straight-line cutting while working on accuracy and advancing bilateral coordination.

Start with blunt tip scissors, then once a child gains efficiency introduces the pointy ones. 

Cutting Straight Line 4 YR

By age 3 to 3.5, a child learns to move the scissors along a straight line that is longer than 5 inches. Although, in the beginning, cutting within 1/2 inch of the cutting line is totally fine, with practice, children will learn to improve their accuracy and by the age of four, s/he might learn to cut pretty close to the cutting line (within 1/4 inch range). Here, Adrian ( 4-years-old) got to practice his scissor skills while making a DIY car wash. All you need is scissors, cardstock, a ruler and a pencil, a recycled cardboard box, and a sprinkle of imagination. 

First, using a rule, Adrian drew straight lines, and then he started cutting on the straight line, making strips.  It is very important to instill the proper scissor grip from the beginning since the longer the child uses an incorrect grip, the more difficult it will be to unlearn such a habit.

Encourage a “thumbs up” position while holding the scissors.


Just like a proper pencil grip or a pincer grip (holding small items with a thumb and a pointer finger), the proper scissors grip must be actively taught since it is completely unlike any other grips a child has used. The proper scissors grip requires a child to rotate his hand so that the thumb faces up, while the pinky points down. A child has to spread his thumb and pointer finger as far apart as possible while using his palm to help stabilize the scissors. Cutting can be challenging for little ones, and the only way to become comfortable with cutting activity is a frequent practice.


Turn the cardboard box upside down and cut out a square for a door and few squares for the windows. After Adrian finished cutting straight lines, he wrote “CAR WASH” and glued the paper with cut-strips to the cardboard box.


DIY cardboard car wash is open for business!

Involving your child in a process or better yet offer THEM an opportunity to ‘create’ a ‘toy’ is a wonderful way to build confidence, self-esteem, creativity and promote STEM education!


This DIY cardboard car wash offered hours of practical pretend-play. From maneuvering and pushing to retrieving and repeating! Besides, we all like our cars cleaned, don’t we?



Do you make DIY toys with your children? Leave a comment!

Early Scissor Skills Practice In A Nutshell

  • 1.5 yr ~ learns to hold scissors, often using both hands to open and close the blades
  • 2 yr ~ masters opening and closing the scissors with one hand – offer to cut play dough or cooked pasta first (details HERE)
  • 2.5 yr ~ learns to make snips on the paper (details HERE)
  • 3 yr ~ snips on paper while moving the scissor forward across the 5″ paper.
  • 3.5 yr ~ uses a “helping hand” or non-dominate hand to hold the paper while cutting with a dominant hand along a straight line that is longer than 5 inches
  • 4 yr ~ cutting within 1/4 inch to the cutting line
  • 4 yr + ~ cuts on a curve line, staying within 1/4 inch of the cutting line (details HERE) then cutting out circle shapes of at least 6 inches in diameter
  • 4.5 yr ~ cuts out a square within 1/4 inch from the cutting line
  • 5 yr + ~ cuts out complex shapes like figures of puppets, animals or people

For more scissors practice, see HERE a lesson on simple strip-cutting on my blog ~ Proper ✂️Scissors Grip Two-Year-Old.

Another trick to learn a proper scissors grip ~ offer a child to shake someone’s hand! 


See HERE ✂️Scissors • Primary Colors 🍝Pasta Cutting.


Also see HERE DIY ❤️Valentines Heart Stickers ✂️ Scissors 🎥Cutting Activity.


The Scissor Skills Book written by a team of 10 pediatric physical and occupational therapists.

Dunn, Marsha Lee. Pre-scissor Skills: Skill starters for motor development. Communication Skill Builders, Inc., 1979.

Exner, Charlotte E. Development of Hand Skills” In J. Case-Smith (ED). Occupational Therapy for Children. Mosby: St. Louis.

Folio. M. Rhonda, Fewell. Rebecca R. Peabody Developmental Motor Scales. 2nd Edition. Austin. Pro-Ed. 2000.


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eBOOK | THE BASICS Bringing Montessori Home

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  • Reply Diana April 26, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    You are amazingly creative!

    • Reply Anya April 27, 2021 at 10:29 am

      So kind of you! Thank you! Xo Anya


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