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A cut above

Explore cultures from across the globe and design your own in this paper-cutting craft activity.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • Pens or pencils
  • Scissors
  • Cutting mats
  • Craft knives
  • Mirrors (optional)
Some examples of paper cutting crafts

Before you begin

  • Choose craft paper for the group to use. Bear in mind that thinner paper will be easier to cut and delicate, while thicker paper or card will be harder to cut but less flimsy.

Run the activity

  1. Split everyone into small groups. Give each person some coloured craft paper and pens or pencils.
  2. Each person should fold their paper in half once or twice.
  1. On the folded paper, each person should sketch out a design. Have a look at the attached examples for inspiration. Remind everyone that traditional paper-cuttings feature everything from geometric patterns to plants and animals. Everyone should be creative and try to think of something they might display at a celebration.
  1. When someone thinks they’ve finished sketching their design, encourage them to use a mirror to see what their design will look like when cut and unfolded. They should hold the mirror along the fold-line and look at the reflection.
  1. Give out scissors, craft knives and cutting mats. Those using knives should work on a secure, flat surface, cutting slowly and carefully with the cutting mat beneath their paper. Scissors can be used to cut at the edges. Make sure everyone takes their time and cuts with care.
  2. When finished, unfold the paper. The design should be replicated on the folded-over side.
  3. Collect up all the scrap pieces of paper that were cut out. These can be recycled in other art projects or used as fire-lighters.


Many different cultures from different corners of the world practice paper-cutting as an art form. During the activity, everyone should have seen examples of papel picado, which is thought to have originated with the Aztecs, while Chinese jinzh dates all the way back to the 6th century. What might have attracted people from all over the world to this activity? Remember: they had no way of sharing their work with one another – they all discovered paper-cutting on their own. In Jewish culture, paper-cutting has been used for religious decorations and marriage contracts since around the 14th century. What might other cultures use paper-cutting to make?


Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.