Physical Development

Helping your grandchild with Scissor Skills

I know that, at some point on most days, I will use a pair of scissors: to cut open a sealed packet, to cut a piece of string and, in my crafting time, to cut some fabric or yarn.

Daisy is increasingly aware of what we do; wanting to join in and use the equipment we use. Being able to use a pair of scissors is such a useful skill in her craft activities so we’ve purchased some small children’s scissors for Daisy. She has now learned how to open and close the blades, holding the scissors in a vertical position.

Recently she’s progressed to attempting to hold the scissors in the horizontal position, while moving the two blades with her both hands; just as I do when I’m using my garden shears. This has enabled her to use scissors to make some tears in play dough.

But to successfully use a pair of scissors you need to be able to use one hand (the helping hand) to hold and guide what you are cutting while operating the two blades with the thumb and finger(s) of the other hand. Using both hands to move the blades means that Daisy is frequently frustrated because she isn’t able to control the cuts unless she has an adult (helping hand) to hold the paper etc. for her.

Daisy needed activities where she could develop the strengthen in her wrist, hand and fingers for the grasp, squeeze and release action, using one hand. We found a solution during the summer months of outdoor play and plenty of opportunities to play with water, using these three items.


Happily helping to fill her paddling pool up with water from the hose, Daisy quickly learned to use the trigger on the spray nozzle – a technique that requires her to squeeze and hold the trigger to control the water flow. A technique we encouraged her to practice by also watering the plants in the garden and helping Granddad clean his car.

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A small water squirter was added to the paddling pool toys and Daisy rapidly learnt how to use the water squirter with great skill, hitting the moving target of an adult with ease.

Along with the small squirter, Daisy discovered Mummy’s trigger spray water bottle and she’s quickly learned how to use that too. You might find a suitable trigger spray bottle at home that your grandchild can use. Small clear trigger spray bottles are also available online and can be used for messy art sessions and outdoor water play.

All three items have given Daisy endless fun in the garden. All three items require a one-handed grasp and squeezing technique along with the subsequent releasing of that grasp. These tools all require similar coordination and strength to those we use when using scissors: grasping and squeezing the cutting blades together and then releasing, to part the blades after the cut.

Daisy will need practice and our encouragement to gradually master her cutting skills. Now that she’s worked out how to open and close the scissors, she can begin to try to make small snips in the edges of pieces of paper.

Granny Smith says

There are lots of different types of scissors available for young children, so when your grandchild is ready to learn how to use scissors select a pair of scissors to suit small hands – there’s plenty of choice from soft handle, safety scissors, mini easy grip scissorsspring loaded scissors to training scissors.

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