Welcome to a perfect and free activity: the nature cutting bin!
I decided to play gardener one spring day (which is always a scary game for the plants in my yard). Everything out there needed a little spring planty hair cut (I’m sure that’s the professional term), but instead of tossing the clippings right into the yard waste bin… I made nature cutting bin.
It’s FREE, it’s EASY, it’s a PERFECT part science, part sensory, part fine motor skills activity. It’s everything.
RELATED: Looking for more ideas on what to do outside? Try my outdoor activities list!
This simple nature cutting bin is perfection!
I first found out about this idea from my dear friend at Play Teach Repeat.
What I learned from her was a few invaluable lessons on teaching cutting skills:
- Start young. We often think of cutting as a school skill, but kids need to learn this BEFORE kindergarten.
- Use non-paper materials. Take cutting off the dotted line worksheet and into the real world. A plant is a much easier and more forgiving surface to cut than a piece of paper.
RELATED: Wondering how I’m introducing school skills to my kids? Check out Playing Preschool!
You can build this activity so quickly!
What I love about this activity is the simplicity. My outside chore – trimming and dead heading plants – became an activity.
We reused something that was doomed for the yard waste.
No muss, no fuss, no extra expense.
Remember, kids value SIMPLE.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make Pinterest perfect kids activities when really, our kids just need simple, fun, and engaging ideas that often cost little to no money.
I love a good cheap activity moment! I live for them. This is one of the best there is.
Just some kids, a bin of dead plants, and scissors. It sounds a little odd, but trust me… it works!
This activity is important for TWO reasons
- It helps kids develop cutting skills.
- It gives them a chance to be UP CLOSE and personal with plants. It’s a science moment the way they explore and notice parts that they may have otherwise missed as they race past a bush in the yard.
My best cutting tips for your family:
- I personally like Fiskars and Scotch brand kid scissors – but that’s just me.
- It’s up to you when your kids are scissor ready (my kids started between ages 2-3).
- To help kids learn to hold scissors, I use the “smiley thumb trick)
Wait, what’s the smiley thumb trick?
On your child’s thumb, draw a smiley face.
While they are cutting, remind them to “keep the thumb up” or “make sure you can see your thumb smile.” This is an easy way to correct them as they twist and tilt their hands in off directions.
Kids are so much more successful when they have this visual to remind them where their thumb and hands should be.
What about left-handed kids?
Fun fact: I’m left handed. So is my husband. NONE of our kids are.
We both learned to cut using right handed scissors (and for us, in our right hands). We both self taught and have no memory of actually learning to cut. We used what was available to us (and right handed scissors were all we had).
I’m so glad I learned to use right handed scissors because the rest of the world doesn’t own left handed ones. They aren’t readily available to use. When I was a teacher or when I’d go to friend’s houses and needed to trim something, I was so glad I knew how to use right handed scissors or I’d be sunk.
We lefties, in general, are great at adapting. We do it with lots of things that right handed people probably don’t think twice about (like a ten-key, computer mouse, potato peeler, and a stick shift). It comes with the lefty territory and in my humble opinion, scissors is another area where we just learn to adapt.
*Some lefties use right-handed scissors in their left hand. If you have a lefty at home, follow their lead as they learn to cut.)
This nature cutting bin was SO AWESOME!
I absolutely loved setting this up for my kids and truly can’t wait to do it the next time my plants need a hair cut.
It’s such a great way for kids to help kids learn to cut and learn more about the plans in their yard.