Adapted Scissors

Specialty Scissors, Cutting Aids

UDL 4.1

Adapted Scissors are alternative scissors which enable students with fine motor needs to access and coordinate scissors in order to cut a variety of materials or shapes. There are many different types of adapted scissors to accommodate a wide variety of fine motor needs. For students requiring significant support (e.g. orthopedic or cognitive impairments), table top scissors may be most appropriate. Students that exhibit challenges coordinating the opening motion of scissors will benefit from a spring loaded scissor. When maintaining isolation of fingers to place into scissors (i.e. thumb on top, additional fingers on bottom) is difficult or orthopedic impairments are present, a loop scissor will offer support. Adapted scissors offer several options to remove barriers while encouraging fine motor development.

Implementation Tips

Positioning Students
Ensure students are in a position to comfortably and effectively use the adapted scissors. Students should be facing the table with the elbows and forearms able to rest on the table and seated on a stable surface. If scissors require, ensure a thumbs up position.
Modeling Safe Usage
Demonstrate to the student how to safely use the chosen adapted scissors, giving physical support or cues (e.g. verbal, tactile) if needed.
Partnering with an Expert
Partner with your Occupational Therapist to identify specific barriers and determine which adapted scissors are most ideal. An OT can also help you anticipate student needs and think through developmentally appropriate cutting tasks.
Varying Tasks
Use various materials or textures for cutting such as playdough, cardstock, straws, string, paper or tissue paper. Make the experience fun and playful.
Motivating Students
Reinforce a student’s efforts with the adapted scissors through sharing and celebrating the finished cut product(s). Display the work in the classroom when appropriate.
Incorporating Student Choice
Allow the student a choice in the cutting activities, such as cutting the pink line or cutting the red line. Start with student’s current ability level for cutting tasks (e.g. snipping, bold short lines, bold longer lines, shapes).
Preparing Cutting Tasks
Place the adapted scissors and materials to be cut out at the student’s station before beginning the activity. Explain or demonstrate to the student the new tool being provided to help with cutting.
Integrating Throughout the Day
Incorporate the use of the adapted scissors in all daily activities requiring scissors in the classroom (e.g. opening packages, cutting out shapes or lines, snipping paper). This provides further modeling and normalizes the use of adapted scissors.


Small Group Practice
During centers rotation, the teacher works to support a small group at a fine motor tools station. The station includes balls of playdough, [[|playdough scissors]] and some adapted scissors that the teacher has selected ahead of time (e.g. [[|loop scissors]], [[|mounted scissors]], [[|spring loaded scissors]]). First, the teacher guides students through rolling out the playdough into a 2-3 inch playdough “snake” using both hands. Next, students hold the playdough “snakes” to stabilize them with the non-dominant hand and snip them with the scissors (with correct thumb’s up position). The teacher provides physical assistance to a student who is struggling by holding the snake to help stabilize it while the student snips it.
Supporting Individual Students
While working with an individual student, the teacher presents the student with a piece of cardstock paper that includes several bold lines. The teacher models using a pair of [[|training scissors]] and explains that they will use the scissors together at first to practice cutting along the bold lines. As the student takes the scissors, the teacher supports the student in grasping the scissors in a thumbs up position using the back loops of the scissors. The teacher then helps the student grasp the cardstock with the non-dominant hand to stabilize it. Next, the teacher grasps the front loops of the training scissors to support the student with opening the scissors and cutting along the first bold line. As the teacher and student are cutting together, the teacher offers specific feedback (e.g. “Great job opening the scissors! Now close them to cut along the line."). The teacher gradually relinquishes support, allowing the student to take on more of the cutting and stabilizing independently.

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