A cutting tray isn't what you think.... wait yes it is. It's a tray where you cut stuff. Voila'! I should end my post here!
This is the simplest idea ever and your kids will LOVE it! I went around the house collecting bits and pieces of random items that were scraps or could be cut. I assembled different things that would give different levels of resistance and sent them to cutting!!!
We have done this activity before and I was thrilled. SK is a very good scissor-er (new word)! W needs some practice and this is the perfect avenue! In the tray I had scrap card stock, filters, magazine pieces, string, playdoh, plastic lid, scrap paper, and scrap cardboard.
I lay everything in a tray and give each kiddo a pair of scissors. Of course I remind them to be careful and not cut fingers! With W I usually have to readjust how he is holding his scissors to practice.
The kids absolutely adore not having direction. They think it's fun to do whatever they want. This time I included a magazine that the zoo sends us and they thought that was extra fun. W tends to just cut things up into tiny pieces or shred them. SK usually makes something or has a "plan." This time she cut out pictures of the animals from the magazines.
I am constantly amazed at how little direction the kids really need/want. Almost anything I give them they will immediately jump in and create their own plan of action. Occasionally they will ask me what they are supposed to do but generally they know what they want to do which I love! I really want them to be creative and thinkers and I love these type of activities that promote that!
The very first time we did a cutting tray they asked what it was. I told them it's a tray and they can cut things however they want....enough said. They had no more questions and dove right in.
W was deep in concentration. I love how attentive he is to making sure not to cut his fingers. This is a great way to increase fine motor skills. Kids LOVE using scissors so they don't even realize they are working on a skill! The best part of this activity is there is no end product so it doesn't matter to me what they do! I'm not attempting to get them to do anything specific so for them there is no pressure!
SK worked hard at cutting out the animal pictures on her magazine pages.
The straws provide a neat amount of resistance and W kept commenting on how they "jumped" when he cut them.
The pile of scraps is the result of about 30 min. of close to complete silence. I set this up for them while H was taking a nap. SK and W quietly whispered to each other about what they were doing and what they wanted to cut next. What I noted most was they so deeply concentrated on their cutting they were quiet for such a long time ----- which makes for a happy Mama!
Try setting this up for your kids and let me know what you think! Fine motor skills - check! Quiet activity for kids - check! Kindergarten skill practice - check! As a K teacher myself this is a big one! We really work on scissor skills in K so this is an awesome way to give them a jump start!