Fine Motor Skills

Cutting Activities for Hand Separation

As an adult, it may seem easy to use a scissor, but scissor skills are something that needs to be developed. No child picks up a pair of scissors and instantly knows how to use them. It takes time and patience.  In order to master the art of cutting with scissors and to develop fine motor skills, children first need to master hand separation.

The hand can be separated into two sides: The bottom portion uses the pinky and the ring finger to provide stability to the upper portion, which uses the thumb, index and middle finger to execute manipulation skills. In order to master fine motor skills, like cutting with scissors , one has to be able to separate these two sides of the hand.

There are activities that you can do to encourage hand separation and are easier than using a pair of scissors, thus improving your child’s ability to successfully use scissors.

Threading Activities

Provide your child with yarn and lacing cards. Hand separation is required to successfully thread the yarn through the holes in the lacing cards. Add an education element to this activity by giving your child lacing cards that are shaped like letters or numbers, or even different geometric shapes, like triangles, squares and stars.


Give your child pieces of paper to tear, which encourages hand separation. To provide even more fine motor skill development, encourage your child to pick up the torn pieces of paper and glue them onto another piece of paper, creating some beautiful artwork.

Create Shapes with Pipe Cleaners

Give your child pipe cleaners and show her how to form them into different shapes. Manipulating the pipe cleaners to create shapes requires hand separation and strengthens the small muscles of the hands to prepare them for cutting with scissors.

For more activities that can help improve hand separation and the mastery of cutting with scissors, speak with a pediatric occupational therapist.

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