The Arts For Life Guide to Art Supplies: Scissors

Really? A whole post dedicated to helping you know what kind of scissors to use? How many choices could there possibly be?!

We’re glad you asked, because the answer is: SO MANY! In this post we’ll cover our age- and ability-specific scissors recommendations, as well as cutting tips for beginners and people who need adaptations. 

 

Getting Started

Maybe you’re wondering: when is the right age to start building cutting skills? Well, you know us, we believe that art is for everyone– even (especially) the very young. With proper materials and supervision, kids can start cutting as soon as they show interest. 

  • If you want to develop pre-scissor skills or if you have a child struggling with cutting, there are many activities to develop cutting-specific muscles and coordination: squeezing clothespins or tongs, squirting spray bottles, and playing with or cutting clay with non-blade plastic scissors.
  • For beginners, it helps to put a sticker or mark on each of the child’s thumbs to remind them to keep their thumbs up while using scissors and holding their paper. Some of the easiest things for beginners to cut are paper strips, straws, play clay, leaves, and grass.
  • it is developmentally appropriate for toddlers (age 1-2) to use two hands to open and close scissors; one-handed use of scissors usually develops during the pre-school yea
  • It’s a popular belief that all scissors can be universally used by both left- and right-handed people. While it’s true that most kids’ scissors these days are “universal” or “ambidextrous” (ie good for both hands), it is always a good idea to double-check before buying. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to cut with a pair of scissors that aren’t sharpened correctly for the hand you use; just ask any leftie who’s tried to cut with right-handed scissors (or vice-versa)!

Scissors by age group

For toddlers all the way up to kids age 10, we recommend 5-inch blunt tip scissors. They cut well through a wide variety of materials from paper to cardstock to foam and tissue paper. And while they don’t have a “safety” blade like most scissors designed for toddlers, we’ve found that with proper supervision, even the youngest artist can use them safely. Still: you know your child best; if you’re worried about their ability to maintain control, we recommend using one of the adapted designs mentioned below.

 

 

For ages 10 and up
Even though we love them (and still often use them ourselves!) kids older than 10 or 11 may scoff at being given a pair of blunt tip scissors. For kids this age not living with a disability, whose hands are bigger and motor skills more developed, we recommend a 7-inch pointed tip pair of scissors. We think this is the perfect hybrid of kid and adult scissors. Brands: Fiskars

 

 

 

For teens and adults
We have two sets of scissors we always keep on hand:

A pair of long, straight scissors (8 inches). These get a lot of use behind the scenes when we’re preparing lessons, but we also use them with teens and young adults at our art tables. Brands: Fiskars, Westcott

 

 

 

 

 

A pair of short, sharp, fine tip scissors (5 inches). These are essential for precision cutting, fine details, very thin paper, and especially small cutouts. We find them easier to use and more versatile than an X-acto knife. Brands: Cutter Bee

 

 

 

 

Adaptable scissors

For artists with motor and coordination limitations, there are several great options.

Loop scissors are good for young kids and anyone who has trouble with fine motor movements and/or weak grip. The loop requires just a gentle squeeze to open the blades. These work for both righties and lefties.

 

 

 

 

 

Grip Scissors are smaller in size than loop scissors, making them great for toddlers and those needing fine motor adaptation. Brands:  Faber-Castell

 

 

 

 

 

 

With push-down table top scissors, one side of the scissors lays flat on the table and you push down the other side to make a cut, similar to the way you would use a stapler. These, too, are wonderful for kids who lack motor control and grip strength. We love them because you can use these with one hand and don’t need a lot of control.

 

 

 

 

 

Hand over hand, or dual-control scissors, which have a set of finger holes for the artist and a set for an adult to assist, are really well-suited for the very young, or anyone needing help with motor control.  Brands: BCreativetoLearn

 

 

 

 

Got a favorite pair of scissors that you like to use? We’d love to hear about them! (No…really!) Share with us in the comments.

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