Cutting to perfection
Friday, December 16th, 2011
There are several key elements to achieving a proper scissors grasp. First, the hand must be placed in a thumb-up position. The thumb goes in the “top loop” and the middle finger goes in the “bottom loop” and the scissors should rest on the index finger. The fourth and fifth fingers should be tucked into the palm to provide stability for the hand as it opens and closes.
What activities can be done to help a child maintain that frequently elusive thumbs-up position?
- Dropping and catching: With the elbow bent at a 90° angle palm-down, drop a small object, such as a ball or bean bag into the lower hand, which is cupped palm up. Alternate hands. Gradually increase the weight of the object once the skill has been mastered with a light object
- Scoop flour, sugar, beans, rice, etc.
- Melon baller
- Carry a ping pong ball or marble at arm’s length on a long-handled spoon. A first hold the handle close to the bowl of the spoon. Work your way to the end as skill increases.
- Carry a tray from the bottom to play house or restaurant. Position hands palms up, upper arms in contact with trunk, and elbows at a 90° angle
- Board games that require turning pieces over, e.g. Lucky Ducks, Squiggly Worms and Lotto
- Slinky: Shift the slinky back and forth between hands, palms up, elbows bent
- Bounce a ball on a racket (face up or face down)
- Throw a ball underhand
- Lock and key toys
How do you begin to teach children to cut with scissors?
Learning to grasp a pair of scissors correctly requires practice and a good pair of scissors. Children’s Fiskars are great starting scissors. Difficulty maintaining a thumbs-up position is an indication of poor elbow control. Here are some activities to help strengthen elbow control:
- First practice cutting on card stock, or plastic coffee stirrers because they are stiff, easier to cut, and require only one snip.
- Save all of those annoying subscription cards that fall out of magazines, and pre-cut them into ½” strips. Have your beginning scissors-user cut them into pieces. This is an easy and almost always gratifying activity. If you have an incomplete collection of paying cards, those work equally well.
- You can use the straw and card stock snippets to create a collage. Next, have your child cut fringes at the bottom of a piece of card stock. This should require only one snip per fringe.
- When the hands are working well together, draw some shorter and longer lines on the card stock with a thick black Sharpie or a highlighter and have your child practice stopping at the end of the line. This will begin to place demands on sequential opening and closing, and facilitate awareness of the line, and introduce control. Finally, ask him/her to cut longer strips lengthwise on cardstock progressing to widthwise on construction paper to practice opening and closing the scissors 4 or 5 times in a row.
See our next blog to learn about different kinds of scissors to boost your child’s cutting skills.
Aviva Goldwasser, OTR/L
Dr. Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, OTR/L