One of the first skills we work on is fine motor skills. The kids are going to need to color, cut and write. Let's talk about cutting. Yikes, every year it seems like I have more and more kids who literally don't know how to hold a scissors, never mind cut a straight line. Over my career I have learned a few tricks to help kids cut. I'm happy to share with you.
#1 Let them cut straws. Gather up some of the straws from the cafeteria and let them cut them. Straws are perfect for cutting because they are familiar to the kids and they are easy to hold. A straw stays still, no flopping over. The kids love to make "candles" with the straws and put them on play doh to make a birthday cake. Try it, it's awesome!
#2 So let's talk about play doh. One of the greatest tools in our teacher chest. Have the kids roll out a "snake" and cut the play doh. It's not as stiff as a straw, but it works great. Having kids cut items that they usually don't cut takes away any fear of "not doing it right" There is no right way to cut play doh, just have fun. The kids wont even know they are working on cutting.
#3 Make a mosiac. Give the kids lots of construction paper scrapes and have them cut them up into small pieces. Cut up yellow and glue it on a bus template, cut up red and glue on an apple template. You get the idea. Again there is no right or wrong way to cut the pieces, you can even tear some. Take away the pressure and kids will shine.
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#4 Use tag board. One of the biggest problems with cutting is holding the paper correctly. If you use tag board the paper is easier to hold hence easier to cut.
#5 Cut thin pieces of paper not whole pages. Again a thin piece of paper is easier to hold and the kids will have more success.
#6 Give them something to hold onto. I use papers with little graphics on them for the kids to place their thumb on. It helps remind them to move their hand up the paper as they cut. Here's a sample of my fall themed resource here.