Fall Leaf Cutting Bin – Busy Toddler

A child holds green scissors and cuts a fallen fall leaf. There is a bin of colorful fall leaves in the background.


Explore the changing fall leaves with this fall leaf cutting bin. Gather leaves on a nature walk and use them to practice cutting skills. This easy fall activity promotes fine motor skills, cutting skills, and science exploration.

A child uses green scissors to cut fall leaves. A bin of colorful leaves is in the background.

What is a fall leaf cutting bin?

It’s an easy activity: a fall leaf cutting bin that give kids a chance to practice using scissors.

Learning to use and manipulate scissors on a non-paper material is incredibly important and beneficial. Cutting on paper and in a straight line is actually really complex. To help kids be successful and grow their skills in a more low-pressure way, cutting leaves is the perfect way to learn.

Setting up cutting activities (like a flower cutting bin or nature cutting tray) is a great way to introduce, continue growth, or further mastery of scissor skills.

RELATED: Looking for more fun summer activities to try with kids? Check out my list!

A child holds a large oak leaf that is green and yellow, She is cutting it apart with green scissors.


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If you don’t have fall leaves on hand, a great option is a bouquet of flowers (either one you have that’s destined for the trash or check with your local grocery store for past-their-prime stems).

A child holds a red/brown leaf preparing to cut it with green scissors. A bin of colorful leaves is in the background.

Collect fall leaves for this cutting bin

This activity has two elements:

First, go on a walk and collect fall leaves with your child. Chat about the changing season, the colors, the shape of the leaves, and the types of trees in your neighborhood.

Aren’t sure what kind of leaves you are finding?

Download the Google app and do a “reverse image search” to find out the type of leaves and trees in your neighborhood. My kids love using this.

After you gather the leaves, place them in a container or bowl. Add in a pair of scissors and voila, you’ve made a fall leaf cutting bin.

RELATED: Trying to find a way to make cheap and inexpensive fall memories? Try my fall bucket list for families.

A child holds a pair of green scissors. There is a smiley face drawn on their thumb. They are preparing to cut fall leaves.

Tip – How to help kids hold their scissors

One of the best parts of an activity like this is the opportunity for kids to practice scissor skills off paper.

When a child is learning to cut, there is a natural inclination to turn the wrists in the cutting process. It can be really hard to just tell kids “stop turning your wrist” – it’s abstract and goes against what they naturally want to do.

Try this instead:

Draw a smiley face on their thumb nail in permanent marker (it washes off) and tell them to “keep the smiley face up.”

While they’re working, give reminders to “keep the smiley up.”

This is a much easier redirect and visual clue for the child.

RELATED: Are you a crafty person? If so, you might like my list of Fall Crafts for Kids.

A child holds scissors and a leaf. They are preparing to cut the leaf with green scissors.

Why using a fall leaf cutting bin works

Learning to cut on paper is cumbersome and tricky.

It’s a surprisingly awkward process and it usually involves a complex end product (like cutting out a specific shape, straight line, or circle.

Instead of handing over paper and expecting kids to grow their skills, start with free cutting in activities like this fall leaf cutting bin.

The beauty of this activity is that what kids cut is what they cut. Nothing needs to be straight or perfect or circular so the frustration level stays low.

RELATED: Looking for more ideas to grow fine motor skills? Check out my list of 20+ fine motor activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can kids start using scissors?

This will vary kid to kid, family to family. Personally, I recommend introducing scissors between 2-3 years old so kids have time to become comfortable with them. Between 3-5, skills fine tune and become second nature just in time for Kindergarten.

How do you help left handed kids with scissors?

First off, I’m left-handed and so is my husband so I have some experience with this (wink).

Lefties are incredible. There are many things we have to adjust while living in a very right-handed world, although it is often boiled down to just scissors. It’s more than just scissors. 

I use right-handed scissors in my right hand. That’s how I adapted. I’m very grateful I learned on right-handed scissors because the world doesn’t have left handed scissors. In classrooms, offices, friend’s houses, businesses, and every junk drawer: right handed scissor are what’s available. 

If I used left handed scissors, I would need to carry scissors with me always OR not be able to participate in cutting anything outside my home. I’m so glad I can use right handed scissors. It makes my life more accessible for me. 

If you have a child who is left handed, I suggest starting with right handed scissors. Many lefties use right scissors in their left hand. That’s their adaptation. They can still use scissors out in the world, they just move them to their left hand. 

Your child also might do what many lefties do: right handed scissors in our right hand. Don’t be shocked by this.  

If your child is struggling to find an adaptation, then I would buy a left handed pair of scissors to see if that helps. Some lefties don’t adapt on this. That’s ok! I never adapted to using an ice cream/cookie scoop in my right hand (yes, that’s another thing we have to adapt). 

Lefties are amazing. You can best support your leftie by giving them freedom of choice. Do not force them to use their right hand and do not assume they’ll always use their left. 

Is cutting a kindergarten readiness skill?

I think it’s really important for kids to enter kindergarten confident in their ability to use scissors. This does not mean they are proficient, adult-level scissor users. What it means it they feel good using scissors, have good scissor skills, and know the mechanics of good cutting.

Susie Allison, M. Ed

Owner, Creator

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.


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