I briefly thought my first daughter could handle real scissors at about 3. You know, the kiddie kind. But really, on the inside, I knew better. Why I handed them to her anyway, I don't know. Of course I stood right there with her, showed her how to hold them, what not to touch and that the scissors should always be pointed away from her. Yadda yadda. And then she cut a hole in her previously unhole-y shirt. Later she did the DIY haircut, too. Of course. And just because she's already done it doesn't mean she won't do it again. Scissors are so tempting. I totally get it. And I was as frustrated as she was at 3-- she wanted so badly to do her own "crafty things" more independently but real scissors weren't reasonable yet-- and lots of other crafty supplies were still too much for her to manage.
But there's a scissor-alternative that's a bit safer and a lot easier for a little one to handle. We call them "stick scissors".
My mother-in-law had sent a gift wrap cutter (available via Amazon but probably also at your local drugstore) at some point, and it's the best thing in our craft supply stash for almost 3yo M. It's great for arts and crafts at the table, but we've also taken it on trips. Both kids shred magazine pages and coloring pages and random bits of wrappers and they're highly entertained by the confetti-making. Give 5yo K that and a washable glue stick and she's collaging like crazy. It does leave a bit of mess behind, say, on an airplane, but it's been much much much better than the whining that's likely when she's some combination of bored/tired/hungry/antsy.
If your paper is fairly sturdy (not tissue paper or the really thing magazine paper) it cuts tiny pieces easily.
It actually cuts long, smooth lines a lot more easily than scissors unless you're really, really good at doing that thing with sharp scissors where the scissors are still as you slice them through the paper. Not something little hands can do yet. The ninja-mask-in-progress below did also require the use of big girl scissors for completion.
I had wanted to blog about these when K was 3. But I couldn't get a good image of what the blade looked like-- and that's critical to the story. I realized the other day that one of the new ones we've gotten is made of clear plastic instead of the opaque stuff the first one was made of. Makes it a lot easier to see how it's made. Unlike scissors, I don't have to immediately panic about what could happen. I'm sure it's not totally impossible to hurt yourself with it, but I think it'd be a real effort. I tried to push my pinky finger in there and touch the blade, and I couldn't. The plastic is pretty rigid, and there's enough space between the opening and the blade that touching the blade, even for much tinier fingers than mine, would be hard. Maybe not impossible, but not without concerted effort. And they're less interested in the blade than what they can cut with it. And at least if they're determined to cut their own hair, this would slow 'em down a bit.
Completely unrelated, I have some questions for sewists. Do you have a moment to answer a few questions? Your input will help me with a project I'm working on, and you'll definitely hear more about it in the near future. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Click here, easy peasy.