It takes time to build strength in their little hands. Someone who has never exercised wouldn’t go out and run a 5K, now would they?! Same thing with our little guys. They need exercise and practice to build strong muscles and in developing fine motor skills.
It’s so important to plan activities that help students work and strengthen these muscles.
- Cut pieces of construction paper in squares of approximately 6″ by 6″. Have students take small stacks of paper and put paperclips on the stack.
- Use snap cubes. It takes hand muscles to snap the cubes together and unsnap them. Same goes for Legos.
- Cut straws into 1″ pieces. Have students string them on pipe cleaners, shoe laces, or use a plastic needle and yarn.
- String small pony beads on pipe cleaners.
- Use tweezers to put pom-poms into empty ice cube trays or egg cartons.
- Use lacing cards or turn a paper plate into a lacing activity by punching multiple holes in the plate and adding some yarn or shoelaces.
Once students have practiced tearing, we move to cutting. We begin by snipping or making small cuts on a piece of paper. Using the paper cutter, I cut strips of paper (about 2″ wide, by 6-8″ long). Large, long strips of paper are hard for beginning cutters to manage so keep them short.
I used stickers to show the kids where to cut, you could also use stamps, bingo dabbers, draw lines or make dots with a marker. Students use their scissors to snip up to the sticker. This helps students learn how to hold the paper when they cut and how to open and close the scissors.
It also helps them learn to control their scissors and to understand that they need to put the scissors where they want to cut.
I put a sticker on the top of their scissors to remind them which way is up. I’ve also used pom-poms, wiggly eyes, and duck tape. Stickers or duck tape works the best.
Once we’ve learned to snip with our scissors, we move to making larger, more deliberate cuts. I cut more strips of paper but this time I make the strips a little wider (about 4″ wide). Again, I used stickers to fancy up the strips, but you could use stamps, bingo dabbers, etc.
Whatever you use, it’s important to have a visual cue that shows the students where to hold the paper as they cut. (These are great projects while you’re watching TV at night!) This time I draw lines for students to cut on. The wider paper means students have to open and close their scissors to move across the line as they cut.
Here’s one more activity I use to practice cutting. Coupon cutting! This is such an easy, low-prep activity. Parents are great about donating old coupons at the beginning of the year.
Kids LOVE this activity because they have seen mom or dad cut coupons at home!
I set this activity up in a center with a tidy tub. Students throw their scraps away in the tidy tub. At clean up time, one student dumps the tidy tub in the big trash can. This cuts down on constant trips to the trash can and messes on the floor. You can download the tidy tub sign HERE.