You definitely want to use a “cutting pool” in your preschool classroom. It is a SUPER FUN way for children to practice fine motor control and scissor skills.
I have used the “cutting pool” when teaching both kindergarten and preschool.
It’s a fun way for the kiddos to practice fine motor control with scissors.
The students get so much out of such a seemingly simple activity! This is something I occasionally include in my center time, more so during the first few months of school.
Using a Cutting Pool for Fine Motor Control Practice
As I already mentioned above, this is such an engaging way for children to practice their scissor skills.
The reason it’s so engaging? Novelty! Sitting in a pool with everyday clothes on, in the middle of the preschool day, is just a little bit different. It intrigues the children.
Even children who aren’t super interested in using scissors love hopping into the cutting pool.
How to Set Up and Introduce the Cutting Pool
The setup is pretty simple! I’m sure I’m not the only teacher who appreciates simple and engaging fine motor control activities.
First, inflate a kiddie pool. You can also just use a small hard-sided pool. Decide where you’d like the pool to be placed and get it setup there.
Next, place scissors and paper near the pool.
Finally, explain the rules to the children.
For me, the rules for the cutting pool are as follows:
- Unless told otherwise, all cutting needs to be done in or over the cutting pool.
- Scissors can only be used to cut paper.
- When done, make sure all scrap paper is inside the cutting pool and scissors are put away.
I have been asked a few times if the children cut the pool. Having the rules in place ahead of time really makes that unlikely to happen.
The super cheap inflatable pool in the pictures lasted over three years for me. And, honestly, I was the one who ended up breaking it!
Related: Free Printable Easter Cutting Strips
Fine Motor Control Invitations for the Cutting Pool
The main point of the pool is to allow the children to practice their fine motor control, specifically with scissors.
That being said, you can place a variety of items in the pool. It really depends on your own preferences and the needs of your students.
I include both blank paper and paper with designs for the children to cut.
The designs I include are usually curvy, straight, and zigzag lines.
Sometimes I draw specific shapes, based on monthly holidays, themes, or student request.
The designs and shapes are just guidelines. The children can cut along the lines or just randomly clip the paper.
As the year progresses, many students begin drawing and cutting their own shapes.
I love watching them move from stilted scissor use to a more confident approach!
Other items to add to the pool:
- Strips of paper
- Bubble wrap
- Strings of beads
- Craft foam
- Paint chips
Related: Activities for Preschoolers at Home
Cleaning Up the Cutting Pool
One of the things I love about this fine motor control idea is the easy clean up!
Before it’s time to put the pool away, have the children make sure all of the paper scraps are in the pool. I also ask the children to leave the uncut papers in a stack near the pool.
Then you simply pick up the pool and shake the scraps into your paper scraps bucket. If you don’t have a bin just for scraps, I highly suggest one!
You can also dump the scraps into the recycling bin if they’re too tiny to use anymore.
What are some of your favorite ways to encourage fine motor control practice with scissors?
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More Fine Motor Control Activities with Scissors
I couldn’t just leave it at that, so I found a few more ideas for you to try. They’re all engaging invitations for cutting and fine motor control practice.
Snipping Sammy’s Hair from LalyMom
Nature Cuttings Outdoors from No Time For Flash Cards
Improving Scissor Skills with Play Dough from The OT Toolbox
Sensory Nest Building from Still Playing School
Making Roadways with Wallpaper Samples from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds
Newspaper Crown from Makeovers and Motherhood
Cutting Tray from Mama.Papa.Bubba