Fine Motor Skills – DIY Cutting Station

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cutting skills When I was a director of a large childcare center one of my 3 year old classes had a cutting bucket. It was a huge bucket with piles of scrap paper in it and three pairs of scissors tied to it. Kids loved it. It allowed them to cut and for the teacher to supervise them while not having to worry that anyone was running away with scissors. Cutting isn’t just about being able to make clean lines for gift wrapping ( although that is a nice bonus) cutting is about hand and wrist strength, fine motor skills, and hand eye coordination. All of these are important for writing. Children are expected to write even earlier than we were and while there is no rush for preschoolers to form every letter perfectly working on these fine motor skills is really worthwhile. I used that teacher’s idea and made it perfectly sized for one child. It took 3 minutes and she sat cutting for more than 4 times that!

Gather your materials. You will need a thin bowl. I got this one at the dollar store. You will also need a hole punch, some sturdy cord or ribbon, kid safe scissors, and scrap paper.cutting station supplies

Start by punching a hole in the bowl. This took some serious muscle but I have freakishly small hands ( pumping my own gas is painful my hands are so little),  I am sure it won’t be so hard for y’all with normal sized hands.cutting station punching hole

Using the cord ( ours is from craftprojectideas.com ) thread it through and make a sturdy knot. Make sure that it’s secure.cutting station for preschool fine motor skills

Tie the other end to scissors. Do not make the rope too long. I am kinda a worry wart and never make any rope too long when young kids are handling it. Of course like all our activities this is not meant to be used without adult supervision. That said making it as safe as possible from the get go is always a great plan.cutting station set up

Add scrap paper and someone to cut and go! The tiara is optional but we always encourage self expression. cutting station fine motor skills activity at home

What I like about this is that it’s portable. She can use it at the kitchen table if I am cooking, in the family room if I am cleaning, even outside if you want to cut with nature like we did last year! It also helps to contain the cuttings and you can make sure that they are cutting things they should by saying ” If it’s in the bowl you may cut it.” If you aren’t ready for the sharper scissors yet try plastic ones and pop playdough in the bowl. cutting great for fine motor skill development

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Map M – Letter of The Week and Geography Lesson.

Letter of the week has been a popular feature on our blog for a few years now, but it’s not so popular at my kitchen table anymore. My son has known his letters for what feels like forever so to get him interested it takes something special… like a map.  He loves maps, and will often ask us ” How do you get to Nebraska? How do you get to Paris? ” So we find the map and we decide if we should fly, drive or take a boat. I capitalized on that love to do this simple cutting and letter activity.

  1. Gather your materials you will need an old atlas or map ( you will be cutting it ), kid scissors, a marker, piece of construction paper and glue.
  2. Start by looking at a map . We looked at a map of the US since my son is into learning about states right now. Choose a state or country to check out. He chose Utah, we don’t know why but he loves Utah, like a lot.
  3. Flip to it if you are using an Atlas. If you just have one map to use, take some time looking at it with your child, look for different points of interest . This activity is as much a lesson to familiarize kids with maps and geography as it is one for the letter m.
  4. Tear out the page and write an M, if your child is able to have them write it. It’s easy to turn it into a block M by adding to theirs.
  5. Cut it out.  This will take time.
  6. Encourage them when it gets tricky. This was the most line cutting my son has ever done, honestly I was pleasantly surprised he did it all. He was pretty proud too.
  7. Add glue
  8. “Slam Utah down” His words. Let dry.

It’s an easy project but the cutting takes patience and builds skills , the exploration of the map sparks discussion and the letter recognition comes along for the ride!

Learning at Snack Time Too


While my son flipped through the atlas I fixed him a snack.  I knew which state he was looking for and was just thankful it was Utah, I didn’t have enough ham for any other state.

Alphabet  Books

ABC USAby Martin Jarrie is another beautiful alphabet book!  Like most alphabet books it devotes a page to each letter with vibrant illustrations . Not everything in this book is by any means unique to the United States but most are. I specifically appreciated the I for Immigrants page, both from a historical and personal perspective, my son loved the J for Jazz and we both loved all the whimsical illustrations. There are a lot of learning opportunities presented as well, school age children could really benefit from it as well the 2 letters that stood out for me for further learning were U for Underground Railroad and V for Valley Forge.  How ever you use this it’s worth a look for certain.


All Aboard!: A Traveling Alphabet by Bill Mayer was more fun for my husband and I than for my son but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a book of pictures, with hidden letters in them. For example the letter O is overpass with loops of road and hidden in it is an O. Some letters were easy to find some were hilariously hard. We read this to my son tonight at bedtime and while we stared at the letter H ( highway) picture debating where the h was, he fell asleep between us in his bed. This is a great alphabet book for families with children just learning and those who have mastered the alphabet. Oh and the debate was settled , we were both wrong. The final page highlights the letter in each picture in a compilation of the whole alphabet.