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Tool use

Tool use

Tools used within the school environment may include rulers, scissors and protractors and to use them, children will need to develop their fine motor skills. This will include finger isolation, pincer grasp and bi-lateral coordination (see fine motor section). Children will also require the appropriate strength in their hands to manipulate tools (see hand strength exercises).


Pre-scissors activities

There are a range of activities that can be carried out to support scissor skills, either before using scissors or along side practice. These include games and activities using large tweezers or salad tongs or games/activities using large sponges and spray bottles to develop the grasp and release movement required for cutting.

Pre-scissor activity

Correct grasp

The optimum position to hold scissors is with the middle finger and thumb in the scissor loops stabilising the lower loop with the index finger. The loops should rest near the bent middle joint of his fingers.  The wrist is turned so that the thumb is uppermost and scissors pointing away from the body.  The arm should rest nicely at the child’s side.

Scissors correct grip

Adapted scissors

There are a range of adapted scissors that may support a child’s scissors skills, these can be particularly useful for children with poor hand strength or difficulty with finger isolation.

Tools use adapted scissors

Grading – snip, cut line, cut corner, cut circle

It is important to grade the cutting activity to create a just right challenge for the child.

Start by snipping edges and work towards cutting along a line, then around a corner and then a circular shape.

·       Cut along a thick line and gradually make the line thinner.

·       Cut card – it’s stiffer than paper so won’t move as much.


Using a ruler can be tricky for some children. Using a rule requires bi-lateral coordination (see fine motor section for activities to develop this) and the ability to apply enough pressure to the ruler to hold and it ruler still whilst drawing along it with a pen or pencil.

There are some adapted rulers that may be beneficial to trial

Tools use adapted rulers