Kids love Halloween so why not give them some fun ways to work on their fine motor skills that have a spooky twist?! Here are four totally simple ways to practice cutting during the Halloween season…plus one that takes a litttttle more prep time. But not MUCH more! We did these all outside to cut down on the chances of baby brother getting a hold of the scissors OR the snippets of materials. If you choose to do it outside, check to see if it is windy first.
This post is not sponsored by Dollar Tree (affiliate link) but as it happens most of the materials that I did not have on hand did come from there!
This has all been inspired by a blog book study that Deborah Stewart organized for her new book Ready for Kindergarten. A group of bloggers each selected a topic from the book to focus on and we are all sharing play-based ways to develop the various skills needed for Kindergarten. I selected cutting with scissors from the section on Fine Motor Skills. My 3 year old daughter and I have had so much fun thinking of fun, playful ways to learn to use scissors!
Speaking of which, here they are!
The first Halloween cutting practice activity that I set up for my 3 year old was a big spiderweb. This is the typical meshy, stretchy, sticky web that you’d maybe put out on your bushes or front porch. It came from Dollar Tree and it even had some spider rings included. All I did was stretch it over a portion of our back deck rail and stick some of the spiders in it.
Ladybug was a little anxious and I had to show her it was a fake spiderweb with fake spiders. Eventually she enjoyed touching it, cutting it to free the spiders and even using the scissors to pick up the spiders. She has a habit of trying to get real bugs to crawl onto sticks so she also tried to free the spiders that way, but of course the stick got pretty stuck in the web.
A small pile of leaves was the next material I set out for her to cut…can’t get more easy than going outside and finding leaves! At least not in the fall in the Midwest! She chose a green one first and it was a little wet after she cut it, then the brown one was crinkly and dry. “Hmm….that’s in-stest-ing Mommy!” Well, I’m so glad she found that to be interesting!
Cutting Hay, Raffia, Cornstalks
In the same picture above you’ll see I set out some “natural colored” raffia, which I also found at Dollar Tree and decided it looked similar enough to hay for our purposes. If you have easy access to hay it would surely be fun. (I guess you’d have to give some consideration to allergies…?) Anyhow. My daughter liked crunching this in her hands more than she liked cutting it but I didn’t feel the need to force it.
We also had some dried up cornstalks in our backyard- NOT purchased, believe it or not- but from our garden. My husband bought seeds for corn specifically meant to be grown in containers and they totally grew well and gave up some ears of corn….to the squirrels! I came home one day to a peeled cobb still on the stalk, with no kernels but a bunch of flies feasting on what was left. YUCK! So…now we know about that! Then the wind knocked them over and they all dried up. Bummer.
BUT we did salvage some dried cornstalk leaves for cutting practice. My daughter noted that when you make small single cuts along one edge, which she is particularly fond of making, the cornstalk kind of looks like a feather. “Isn’t that neat, Mom?” Yes dear, it is!
Balloon String Cutting with Game Option
This is just one of those fun, easy things you can do with your kids when you happen to have a balloon after a party. This ghost one came from- you guessed it- the Dollar Tree! (Balloons are expensive elsewhere, have you noticed this?)
Anyhow, before you show your preschooler that you have a balloon, I suggest letting go of the balloon and let it settle on the ceiling. Make a mark as high as you can reach on the string. This is your “Do Not Cut Past Here” line so that your balloon is not permanently stuck up there. You also may want to allow enough play time with the balloon so the novelty of it has worn off and the child is not too distracted by just plain having a balloon.
When you start, it might be helpful to model the holding and cutting. I also thought it would be best to start sitting on the floor and once the string is shorter, she could stand up. Having a character balloon and making funny noises each time the ghost floated up to the ceiling made the activity extra fun. “Woe! Bonk!” “Booooooo! Oof!” Good times, I tell ya!
If you were having a party, it might be a fun game to draw marks every inch or so on the string and have the kids roll dice, then they get to cut that many marks off during that turn. Make your “Do Not Cut Past Here” line a different color and whoever gets to that line first is the winner!
An Invitation to Cut: Witch Craft
This was a fun craft to do together and it stemmed from the ideas I had for my CUT Punch PASTE projects as well as from our Fairy and Princess Wands, where I learned how much my daughter likes giving haircuts. I was trying to decide between making it a scarecrow and a witch, and well, the witch won out.
Notes about materials: The materials you use are flexible, the hair I used here is actually a Hair Extension Headband from Dollar Tree, which was not my idea. I had seen it on pinterest from Play at Home Mom in a picture of their AMAZING At Home Salon. They caught my eye at the store and I brought it home. I was planning on using yarn, construction paper or craft foam though and you could too. We had the hat on hand from an old costume but you could also make one out of construction paper. That said, here is how we made ours.
1 Oats canister
1 Full sheet of green paper
1 smaller piece of black paper
Scraps of white and pink paper
Paper punches if desired
1. Prep the witch and cutting materials: Tape the green paper around the canister. Apply whatever hair you are using. Place hat over hair to keep it on tightly (or you may want to tape/glue it, if the kids pull it taut, it can move a little otherwise). Trim a strip of your black paper to about one inch by 5-6 inches. Using the chalk, draw zigzag lines across it so that when the child cuts each line it results in a triangle.
2. Set up the invitation to cut: Place the witch where the child will have access to it from every direction. We did this out on our deck and I laid down a white plastic table cloth just to make cleanup easier. Lay out the black strip of paper, some additional black paper, white and pink scraps of paper near the witch along with the scissors, paper punches and gluestick.
3. The child can choose to cut the triangles or use the paper punches to punch out circles for the face and glue them on. We used white to make the whites of the eyes with a larger hole punch, and just cut a pink tongue, because my daughter decided she needed a tongue. Your child may be more interested in starting with the hair which is fine too. It’s all good fun!
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That’s pretty much it! Proceed with the haircut, or keep the witch as a centerpiece for a Halloween party! If you liked these Halloween scissors activities, please check out my other scissors activities below. For still more, please follow my Fine Motor Fun Pinterest board!
I hope to see you again soon!