Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Little Things #2 - Scissors

How many times have you been walking around, monitoring students at work, when suddenly you catch sight of a child wound around him or herself in some unbelievable contortion, trying to cut something out for a collage? I am not surprised to see this with young children, but when it is a 4th or 5th grader, I wonder how s/he got this far in his or her education without mastering this basic skill of cutting efficiently with a pair of scissors.

These are 3 things I have seen kids (older kids!!) doing:
     #1) Holding the scissors upside down, with the thumb in the finger hole and the fingers trying to squeeze into the thumb hole.
      #2) I see this most often. Instead of turning the paper to cut curves, children try to turn their cutting arm and end up cutting toward themselves instead of away from themselves.
      #3) I see this a LOT, too. It is hard to see in this photo. But this right handed child's pair of scissors is on the left side of the cutting line, blocking her view of the line. If she moves the blade just to the right of the line, she can see it clearly as she cuts. I have found that kids don't always "get" this concept right away when I show them the difference. It usually takes a bit of monitoring.
So, what is the cure when you are the art teacher who may not see the child consistently, or, as in my case, more than a few times a year? When there is time, I will stop, sit down and model for the student, making sure they are on the right track before I move on. Since I know I won't be able to follow up in the regular classroom, I jot it down on a post-it to mention my observations to the classroom teacher, who can then pass it on to the parent (who can be watchful and monitor at home).

I probably have overlooked some other behaviors that you have seen in your own classrooms. Anyone have any other tips for mastering "Scissors 101"?


  1. I'll be interested to see what tips you get. My daughter insisted on cutting as in picture 2, in spite of poor results, and still will many times. - and she is an only homeschooled child of a crafty mama who cuts often, so i can imagine the frustration with dealing with a room full of scissors.

  2. I see all these things with scissors, plus kids who hold pencils in their fist (I'm talking about kids in the 6th grade!!!!!), kids who old paintbrushes at the end, kids who try to color big areas with the point of a marker rather than the broad edge, etc. I do what I can, but the classroom teacher who watches the kid write (and cut, etc) every day should really push to fix this, and it should have started in kindergarten.

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