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Learning to Cut with Scissors

Cutting with scissors is an important developmental skill that builds fine motor strength; increases hand-eye coordination; and encourages bilateral coordination. Believe it or not, there is a developmental sequence involved with learning to use scissors, and if your child follows the sequence, it will be a much easier skill to learn. The scissor usage developmental milestones you can watch for include:

  • At 2 years of age, a child should be able to snip the ends off a paper.
  • At 3 years of age, a child should be able to cut along a darkened line.
  • At 4 years of age, a child should be able to cut out a circle that has been outlined.
  • At 5 years of age, a child should be able to cut out a square that has been outlined.

You can use these tips to help your child learn to use scissors properly:

Work on the open/close hand motion

When using scissors, your hand makes an open-close motion pattern. Encourage your child to work on this movement by playing with items that naturally open and close including such as clothespins, serving tongs or toy castanets.

Rip paper

Ask your child to tear paper into long strips to build up the finger muscles needed for using scissors.

Select the right scissors

If your child is a leftie, be sure to get her left-handed scissors. Make sure the scissors of choice have a blunt point and can cut the paper.  Dull scissors will often bend the paper rather than cutting it.

Talk about scissor safety

Be sure to talk with your child about what she may use her scissors to cut. It is also important to remind her that she may not walk or run with scissors; they are to be used at the table or desk.

Use a thumbs up position

Your little one probably knows that the “thumbs up” sign means something good. The same applies to scissors. Teach your child to put her thumb up in the smaller hole on the top part of the scissor handle rather than down below in the larger hole.

Snip different textures

Let your child snip playdough, straws, thick cardstock, soft foods, etc. to practice cutting different textures. As she cuts through the different items, she’ll be building hand and finger strength as well as endurance.


Is your child ready to cut straight lines? These tips will get her started.

Cut in rows

Use stickers to make two rows on a piece of paper and ask your child to cut in between the rows.

Draw wide lines

Using a dark maker, draw wide lines up to 1/8” thick; have your child cut on either side of each line.

Count as you cut

Count with your child as she cuts forward to the end of the line.

Sequence the movement

Cue your child with words like “open, push, cut,” while she is cutting the line. Assigning words to each cutting step will help her remember the action sequence as she cuts towards the end of the line.


Perhaps your child is ready to cut a circle—these are the tips that will get her there.

Make a curved path

Place stickers along a curved path and ask your child to follow the sticker path with their scissors to make her cuts.

Use a paper plate

Let your child cut out the inside of a paper plate or even just along the edge. 

Make spirals

Cutting spirals will help your child learn how to cut using a circular movement—not to mention, she can play with the curly creations afterward.


Has your child mastered a circle? You can help her start snipping squares with these tips. 

Stop at the corners

Draw a square on a piece of paper with stickers or dots at each corner. Tell your to child cut along each line until she reaches the sticker or dot with her scissors. Ask her to cut through the sticker or dot and then turn the paper to work on the next line.

Use smaller pieces of paper

Draw squares on small pieces of cardstock or index cards to make it easier for your child to cut off the excess paper.


Although learning to use scissors can be a complex skill to develop, encourage your child to practice in a positive setting. The more she practices, the easier it will be for her to use scissors independently.


  Filed under: Education & School, Parenting Tips

Tips for Starting Preschool

As summer is winding down and preparations for a fall routine are underway, you and your child may be feeling a bit anxious, excited, and even a little sad about the start of preschool. All of these feelings are completely normal; big changes are coming.

Fortunately, for you and your little one, there are many tips and strategies you can put into place to help your family settle into a new preschool routine.


Before preschool begins:

Try some of these tips to help your child prepare for preschool before it even begins:

Make a visit

Take your child to the school and let him walk around and possibly even see his classroom and meet his teacher. Many preschools will host a “Meet the Teacher” event a week or so before school begins; this is a good time to let your child familiarize himself with his classroom and school environment.

Leave for short periods of time

If preschool will be your child’s first experience being cared for by someone other than you, it may be a good idea to leave your child with a trusted friend or family member for short periods of time during the weeks leading up to preschool. In doing this, your child will learn that you will come back and that he is safe while you are away. 

Read books about preschool

You can find lots of great books about going to preschool at the local library, bookstore, or online. Use these types of books and their illustrations to help your child learn what preschool looks like, hear words associated with preschool, and even provide examples of things he may be excited or worried about.


If your child will eat lunch at preschool, let him practice eating lunch out of his lunchbox at home. Ask him to practice cleaning up toys and placing them in a bin before he is able to move on to a new activity. Practice packing his backpack and letting him wear it around your house.

Establish a routine

Get your child practicing a good bedtime and morning routine a few weeks before preschool begins. Set an earlier bedtime and start waking him up around the same time each morning. Give you and him ample time each morning to get dressed, eat breakfast and get out the door without rushing.

Get together with classmates

Consider hosting a playdate for a few children from your child’s preschool class to help him meet new friends. Having familiar faces on the first day of school may help ease any separation worry when a child knows a few other children in the class.


The first few weeks of preschool:

Try some of these strategies to help make the first few weeks of preschool a little easier on both you and your child.

Give a short and sweet goodbye

As hard as it may be, say a quick goodbye and head out of your child’s classroom and school. Preschool teachers are well-trained in getting young children to calm down when separating from their parents—trust the process and be consistent. Most likely your son will eventually stop as he becomes more familiar with his new routine. When you pick up your son, reassure him that you came back for him just like you said you would.

Communicate with the teacher

Be sure to let the teacher know your child’s toileting patterns. Share tricks that work to help your child calm down if he is anxious. Disclose any medical issues or allergies. Offer up information about anything about his home life that may help him transition to preschool. Keeping an open line of communication with the teacher will be important as you establish a dialogue throughout the year.

Check the bag

Be sure to empty your child’s book bag each day when he comes home. Teachers will often put artwork, notes about a student’s day, and important forms for parents to complete in each child’s backpack.

Use a transitional object

Your child may need to bring a favorite small toy or lovie from home the first couple weeks of school to help with the transition. For some children, they may need it in their cubby so they can go over and touch it. Other children need to know it’s in their bag should they need it. Sometimes having something familiar from home can be enough to comfort a child who is missing their parent or having a hard time transitioning.

Starting preschool is an exciting time for most children, but it is also a major milestone that can make parents feel anxious about leaving their child for part of the day. Parents are often more nervous about the transition than their child. Try using these strategies to help make the transition to preschool life easier for everyone.

  Filed under: Education & School, Parenting Tips

Summer Sensory Activities

A summer break full of fun and sun may mean that your little one won’t actively see his or her occupational therapist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate sensory play into your warm weather routine. There are plenty of engaging activities you can introduce to keep your child entertained as you provide new sensory experiences and help him or her increase motor skill development.

First, consult with your child’s occupational therapist to ask about ideas and strategies that will suit your child’s specific sensory needs. She will be able to make suggestions for the best activities to improve fine motor and attention skills and coordination as well as assist your child in using his or her senses to explore, experiment, and problem solve.

Some fun and supportive activities your therapist may share include:

Sensory Activities to Calm

Calming sensory activities help children feel calm, increase their attention span, and promote a state of overall comfort and happiness. These activities may help your child successfully transition from screeching and screaming to a calm and organized state of mind.

  • Bubble blowing
  • Swinging on a swing or see-sawing
  • Helping with simple household chores such as vacuuming or sweeping
  • Carrying weighted toys such as plastic sand buckets filled with water or sand for short periods of time
  • Using soft pillows or cushions to apply gentle pressure to comfortably “squish” your child
  • Holding vibrating toys or applying gentle massagers on their back, arms, and legs

Sensory Activities to Alert and Arouse Attention

Alerting and arousing sensory activities enable sensory-seeking children to feel something to support positive behavior and increase attention.

  • Bouncing a therapy ball
  • Spinning in a swivel chair or on a Sit ‘n Spin play toy
  • Jumping on a trampoline or a bed while supervised
  • Walking through an obstacle course using couch cushions, inflatable pool rafts and noodles, and more fun items that offer uneven surfaces
  • Jumping and crashing into soft pillows, play mats and cushions
  • Riding a scooter or tricycle
  • Playing physical games such as Red Rover tug-of-war or Ring Around the Rosie

Sensory Tubs Suggestions

A sensory tub is a simple shoebox or storage bin filled with a variety of materials that help promote sensory exploration by introducing different textures, sights, and smells. Children can place their hands in the box or bin to feel various materials, drive toy cars through them, seek special treasures hidden inside and more. Considering adding the following items to a sensory tub for your child:

  • Dried pasta, beans or rice
  • Cooked, wet noodles
  • Shaving cream
  • Finger paints
  • Playdough in various colors
  • Colorful paper confetti
  • Foam pieces
  • Salt or sugar
  • Dry or damp sand

Add even more fun in a sensory tub with:

  • Small cars and trucks
  • Kitchen utensils like spoons, whisks, tongs or a baster
  • Food coloring
  • Wooden or plastic blocks
  • Small plastic animals
  • Straws and pipe cleaners
  • Shovels, buckets, and funnels

Water Play Ideas

Water enhances any sensory play activity and can be incorporated very easily. Ideas to consider include:

  • Filling and tossing water balloons
  • Playing with a water table with boats and small floats
  • Using water to “paint” wood or concrete with paintbrushes
  • Adding food coloring to the water to watch the color changes
  • Adding glow sticks to the bath and turning off the lights
  • Creating an outdoor obstacle course with a sprinkler, slip-n-slide and baby pool


  Filed under: Occupational Therapy, Parenting Tips