Reggio Invitation: Tearing Paper

I've been meaning to set up this invitation for Silas for awhile now. I first read about setting out a stack of newspapers for toddlers to tear into in a Reggio book, but tearing is also classic paper work in a Montessori classroom as a preparation for using a scissors and, later, writing. I envisioned an abundant stack of newspapers that was almost as tall as he was and hearing rip-rip-ripping through a whole afternoon as he surrounded himself with bits of paper-scrap snow. But, we don't have a newspaper subscription and all of my efforts to poach some from recycling bins were unfruitful, so we had to make do with an itty bitty stack of shoppers that I've been saving for the last few months.

I set out the papers and invited him to join me on the floor. I demonstrated tearing a sheet in half and then handed a page to him. Tearing is really hard, I learned! He kept wanting to pull the paper apart and couldn't quite get that his hands needed to move in opposite directions for the page to tear. I guess I never realized that we hadn't torn paper in the past and that it really takes quite specific movements for it to work.

I came up with a little story to help him remember where to place his hands and how to move them. I wanted to encourage him to grip the page with a pincer grasp with both hands at the top, then to keep one hand stationary and pull the other hand down. So, we made little birds with our fingers and thumbs, one a mama bird and the other a baby. Both birds land on a branch (the top edge of the paper), but baby bird is very silly and while playing he falls out of the nest (pull one hand down). He definitely got it and talked about the birdies as he tried to rip the paper, but this was definitely an introductory experience. I thought this one would be a breeze and we'd be on to introducing scissors later this week, but I think we'll stick with the tearing for a bit longer. I'm going to have to find some more papers!

Silas is 2.75 years old.


  1. Cute little story you made up. My 14 month old definitely doesn't need help in the paper tearing department - that is her specialty! She then can clean up pretty darn good too (unfortunately the trash receptacle is her mouth).

  2. Such a great activity and I love the song you made. Birds must be a big deal with your family - you've made a few games/stories incorporating them!

    Wishing you a lovely day.

    1. Thank you! Yes, I have a special fondness for birds and I think Silas does as well. "Bird" was the third sign that he made, after the all important "more" and "milk". ;)