Learning to cut with scissors isn’t easy. Kumon’s well-designed books make it fun and successful!
As an occupational therapist, I evaluate fine motor skills in young children and help children develop hand control. After finding preschool scissors that do not cut fingers, hair or clothes (Lakeshore Learning’s own brand of safety scissor with the beige plastic blades and colored handles), I needed good paper for cutting. There are many choices, at many price points. Some nice books are even sold by therapy catalogs, but these are available online and in stores and use higher-quality paper and very appealing graphics.
Kumon’s books are made of stiff paper that is easy for little hands to hold without crushing, and they use colorful graphics with images that capture the interest of preschoolers. They have two series of cutting books that are far and away the best value and the most engaging for preschoolers. I recommend them frequently to parents.
Their activities in the “Let’s Cut Paper” series are developmentally organized. The first pages are very easy, and the design demands get progressively more challenging. I would suggest that a typically developing 3-4 year old will be able to independently cut out 50% of the pages, but will usually need help to assemble them as directed. There are two generic books, a “food” themed book and an “animals” themed book. Since the books are a bit more expensive than some others, and much more expensive than just snipping scrap printer paper, I like to ask the child to cut off the directions to get another chance to cut across a page and derive more value from each page. They can then snip wildly at that cast-off piece if they want to. Some kids just like to do their own thing.
Assembling the activity page itself is fun and a chance to develop perceptual-motor skills as well. The book suggests using glue, but I like tape. Not as messy, and the child can play with the page immediately. You can be finished at that point, or incorporate the completed page into imaginative play or a larger play scheme. For example, the food can be placed on a plate he makes or a stove that the child draws. The animals might need a nest, a forest or a barn to live in. This gives you the opportunity to boost language skills as well.
The “Paper Playtime” books are not developmentally designed, but they are really fun for children all the way into kindergarten and first grade. Some developmentally delayed children may need to work on scissor skills but the first series’ graphics might be too immature for them to find interesting. This series has mature, detailed graphics that can equally inspire post-cutting creativity, visual-perceptual and language development.
The Paper Playtime” pictures can be independently cut out by most typical 4 to 4.5 year olds. The series’ two themes are “animals” and “vehicles” . I know many little boys who cannot resist the vehicle choices, and want to make as many of them as we have time to assemble. Most children well into first grade will need assistance to assemble these into interactive objects. In the above photo, the firetruck’s ladder appears to raise and lower when the flap is folded in either direction. I have used these books with much younger children, but then most of the cutting and all of the assembly is either assisted or done by an adult. Some young children are hesitant to try scissor use at all, and seeing what wonderful things they can create can motivate them to explore their first real school tool!