Here’s How We Are Using Scissors and Tongs to Build Fine Motor Skills

Being a Reading Teacher made me very aware of early literacy skills but I was not a student of early childhood development (yet). Pre-Reading skills were at the top of my priorities while I was clueless about pre-writing skills. Thanks to the curriculum I’m using, I have become more intentional about developing my child’s fine motor skills to prepare her to write.

This week in our ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum our fine motor skill was cutting. Initially I thought “cutting” sounded too risky with a 3 year old but when I saw that you can find safety scissors that only cut paper (not skin or hair) I felt better. It’s actually a pretty significant skill for little hands to develop. Moving the fingers in the right motion to cut, using hand strength, and bracing the paper with the other hand takes some work. Many of us cut paper now without thinking and take the skill for granted. So I knew this was important for her to practice. I also found that the safety scissors are actually a bit more challenging to learn how to work (which is good). With a sharp pair of scissors, your angle hardly matters. With dull scissors you have to have your hand placed at the correct angle to make the cut.

At times she got frustrated with the activity but when she got the hang of it she was very absorbed in practice. She also knows I never let her have scissors so being allowed to use these safe scissors was a big deal. We made a paper cutting mess in our practice.

Since we had to clean up, I figured I’d turn that into an opportunity as well. She loves playing with tongs so we used the tongs to pick up paper and transfer it to the waste basket. More motor skill practice!

Last year she really liked to scribble color with crayons often but now she seldom wants to participate. Lately she has been resisting coloring/writing practice; but she’s more interested in doing tasks with her hands than ever. I like to think this phase is a natural part of her development because she needs more fine motor practice in order to control a writing utensil with her hands. So right now our focus is learning numbers and letters and getting her to work things with her hands. Everything has a purpose!

Some other favorite fine motor skills activities we like are:

Playing with play doh

Planting seeds in the garden

Sticking stickers and tape on paper


Using side walk chalk

Playing with LEGOs and blocks

Gluing objects to pictures

I’m looking forward to the days when she will be able to write and draw but I’m going to try to enjoy this pre-writing phase. Who knew scissors and tongs could be so much fun? What are some fine motor activities you use with your kids?


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