Pre-Scissor Skills

Advice and activities on pre-scissor skills

Pre-Scissor Skills

Developing scissor skills is an important milestone in your child’s life.  By learning to use scissors they practice using a tripod grasp (using thumb, index and middle finger together) which then develops into the ideal grasp for writing.  It is important that your child uses the appropriate scissors for their dominant hand (left or right handed scissors).

These activities below focus on the child being able to open and close their hand using the first three fingers (thumb, index and middle finger).

Helpful Strategies

  • Progress from larger movements to smaller movements when cutting.
  • Initially cutting in an unskilled manner with more tearing than cutting.


Bilateral Activities

  • Hands doing the same action: Lego, rolling pin, large ball games, pop beads, interlocking games.
  • Hands doing the same but opposite action: squeezing out a cloth, tearing paper, wheelbarrow games, hand over hand pulling along a rope.
  • Stabilisation with grasp: - one hand stabilises other supports/stabilises activity: opening jar, stabilise paper and draw, pouring, hold bowl and stir, threading, knife and fork, templates / stencils, wind-up toys, lacing / threading.


Pre-Scissor Activity Ideas

Activities to Practice Develop Pincer Grasp 

  • Post boxes
  • Posting pennies in piggy bank
  • Duplo/stickle bricks/k-nex/geo-mex
  • Wind-up toys
  • Spinning tops
  • Tearing paper and card for collages

Activities to Practice Opening and Closing Hands 

  • Use salad tongs to pick socks off the floor and put in laundry basket.
  • Use salad tongs to drop cotton wool balls into a box
  • Using the tongs, lift small balls and post them into a tube.
  • Hide small toys in dry sand, pulses, etc and use the tongs etc to lift them out.
  • As control improves reduce down to tweezers.
  • Use tweezers to pick up tiny things like raisins, beads and rolled up pieces of paper.
  • Peg clothes pegs all around the edges of a shoe box
  • Use a turkey baster or medicine pipette to squirt water in the bath.
  • Get your child to pinch his thumb and index finger all the way along a playdough (see below for homemade playdough recipe) sausage to make indentations.

  • Make a sock puppet with your child and get them to open & close his mouth to ‘feed it’.
  • Punch holes with hand held paper punch. Holes can be pasted on paper and made into ladybirds. Alternatively get them to punch holes around the outside of a sheet of paper and then thread string through the holes.

Resource Tags


  • Pre-Scissor Skills
  • Helpful Strategies
  • Bilateral Activities
  • Activities to Practice Develop Pincer Grasp
  • Activities to Practice Opening and Closing Hands