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Cuttables and Traceables, New Aids to Teach Basic Cutting and Tracing Skills
Elisabeth A. Wharton, MOTR/L

As an occupational therapist in a preschool environment, I work with many special needs children to help them function at their highest level.  Some of my childrens’ problems include fine and perceptual motor deficits, autism, blindness and cerebral palsy. Learning shapes is a pre-math and pre-writing fundamental skill and is very important in a child’s cognitive development. The tracing and cutting of shapes lays the foundation for higher learning. But sometimes, teaching tracing and cutting skills can be challenging.

With tighter and tighter budgets, we frequently find ourselves in school systems looking for creative ways to develop aids for the children that will help them develop their skills. Tools such as glued together lay-ups of shapes can create templates the children may use as guides to develop cutting skills, but these never have a very long life when faced with a determined pair of scissors. Tracing aids frequently are solid shapes that the children have to hold while they trace around, and at some point, the hand holding the shape will always be in the way. For some children, this obstacle is difficult to overcome. Tracing aids are frequently stencils, generally of thin material, and the child’s marker tends to slip over the edge, possibly ruining the drawing in their eyes and thereby creating frustration.  But I always worked with what was available to assist my children… until I met Alex.

Alex is a blind, cognitively intact, very energetic and determined boy. He wanted to be like his fellow classmates who were using scissors and drawing shapes, but he couldn’t without my help. This was a problem for Alex because he really wanted to cut and trace by himself. I researched and found there were no assistive products in this area. I thought there had to be a way to develop some set of aids that would enable him to cut and trace without any help, giving him the independence that he wanted so badly to have. With the help of my husband we developed a line of products that we call Cuttables and Traceables, and we have since started our own company called Createable Concepts LLC.

Cuttables and Traceables are made from sturdy rigid plastic, strong enough to hold up to the abuse that they will likely encounter in a classroom. Cuttables are aids to cutting, and they come as two identical shapes held together and aligned magnetically. Knobs on the outside of the shape make it easy for a child to pull the two shape pieces apart. When the child places a piece of paper between the two shape pieces, the magnets hold the paper firmly. This allows the student to cut around the outside edge of the shape, using sensory feedback from the edge of the shape to guide their scissors as they cut around the shape. After they cut all the way around, the two magnetic shape pieces easily come apart, and the child can remove the shape they just cut out. And Alex could do it all by himself, too, even though he is blind! He was so excited, as were all his classmates, when he was finally able to cut out a shape from start to finish all by himself!

Traceables are similar to stencils except that they are thick plastic stencils, a little less than a quarter inch thick. They have handles outside the shape for a child to hold onto while they trace the entire shape without their hand being in the way. Rubber feet imbedded into the bottom of each Traceable help hold the shape in place on the paper while the shape is being traced. Now it’s much easier for all my students to develop their tracing skills, and Alex, too, can do it all by himself.

A complete set of Traceables includes 4-inch and 6-inch circles, squares and triangles in bright colors. A complete set of Cuttables comes with 4-inch and 6-inch circles, squares and triangles. Additionally an 8-inch rectangle helps teach the basic skill of cutting a straight line. Cuttables also are in bright colors that children find most appealing.

For more information on Cuttables and Traceables, please visit our website at

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