Cutting Paper Activities for 3-Year-Olds

Updated February 21, 2017

Most 3-year-olds are ready to learn to cut with scissors, but be prepared to help her with this new skill. Start with simple projects and insist that your child do cutting projects at a table for safety reasons. Once she gets the hang of it, introduce craft projects that require cutting.


Before teaching your child to use scissors, give her a pair of cooking tongs to practice with. Have your child wander around the house picking up small or medium items with the tongs and putting the items back down again. This movement is the same as your child will use when cutting with scissors; to use the tongs, she has to open and close her hands and fingers.


Buy child-appropriate scissors for your inexperienced paper cutter. Ensure that the scissors have a blunt tip and are small enough for her hands.

Paper Type

Provide your 3-year-old with stiff paper, such as tagboard, when she is first learning to use scissors. The stiffer material will be easier for her to manipulate with her small hands and fingers. This will also help her build hand and finger strength and develop small motor skills. Move on to construction paper and regular paper after she has mastered the tagboard.


Show your child how to cut designs out of paper. Begin by drawing thick, straight lines with a dark marker on paper. Instruct him to cut along the lines. Once he has mastered the straight lines, draw big squares for him to cut out, then draw rectangles and triangles. At 3 1/2 years old, your child may be ready to cut out circles.


Help your child make a mask out of a paper plate to practice cutting skills. Draw two circles for eyes toward the top of the plate and have your child cut out the circles. Allow your child to decorate the mask using markers and small shapes that she has cut out of coloured paper. Attach some elastic or string to tie the mask around her head.

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About the Author

Marguerite Lance has been a professional writer for seven years and has written for museums, hospitals, non-profit agencies, governmental agencies and telecommunication companies. Her specialties include nutrition, dietetics and women's and children's health issues. Lance received a Bachelor of Arts in biological anthropology from Idaho State University.