Activity: The Cutting Box

If the children you spend time with are anything like mine, they think cutting is AWESOME?! Not only is it awesome, but it can make a giant mess that they do not want to pick up.

I rearranged a bit this week, making a defined materials space for art, crafts, building, design, invention - whatever they can think of. The invitation to play was greeted with enthusiasm - mostly to snip paper to tiny bits and drop those bits on the floor. Which only bothered me, because I was watching materials get sucked into the vacuum instead of being re-purposed. 

I wish I could remember who this idea came from, so that I could give them credit. Found her! A friend, who also does family child care, gave me the idea! Thanks!! 

Offering "cutting boxes" instantly drew children in to practice their cutting skills in a way that conserved our materials and contained the mess. Additionally, I stocked the boxes with a variety of materials. It is a great "self-correcting" activity, in that materials that are too difficult for those still developing hand strength are passed over. The kids who are able to cut denser materials naturally go between different textures, thicknesses, and pliability. 

Some materials I included in the boxes:
- construction paper
- tag board
- foam sheets
- plastic knitting canvas
- curling ribbon
- yarn
- paper lacing cord

At first we tried the boxes at the table, since cutting had been previously restricted to the table for safety reasons. However, the height difference proved too difficult for most of the children. So, we moved to the floor. This worked MUCH better. They could hold the materials and scissors at a comfortable height and keep it over the bin (it doesn't mean they did, it just means they could). 

Added bonus to sitting on the floor: the kids who tend to W sit were naturally encouraged to sit with their legs in front so that they could access and keep the materials more easily. Plus, I could sit behind those who need help holding the scissors and do a less intrusive hand-over-hand to assist when needed.

Now, I just have to keep an eye on the materials to make sure extra small pieces are being removed and a good variety of materials is kept stocked.