We are starting a paper cutting project, and at this level, students have enough dexterity and responsibility to handle pen knives. With great power comes great responsibility. Here is how I deal with this dangerous tool in my classroom.
First, I scare them a bit. I tell them the only time I ever had a student go to the hospital because of something going wrong in my classroom was when a student violated the only real rule with using a pen knife:
DON'T CUT TOWARDS YOUR SELF.
You entered with 10 fingers and want to leave with all them? Don't violate this rule.
|Don't let this happen to you...|
1. Don't cut towards yourself.
2. Always have protective cap on when traveling around the room.
3. When we are cleaning up, I have to see all 30 back in their storage rack or no one leaves.
4. Always use a cutting board underneath.
|My handmade storage rack.|
|Knives with caps|
After we go over this, I do a demo which includes the cutting challenges I think they need to pass in order to successfully complete their designs. I also show them how to maintain the knife, in case the blade falls out.
1. Cutting a straight line.
2. Cutting a curvy/wavy line.
3. Cutting out a free form shape.
4. Cutting out a shape near another shape, but with a sliver of paper dividing them.
5. Cutting out a shape within a shape, using "paper bridges" to hold the shape in place.
|the Cutting Challenge on a scrap of paper.|
I also am proud to say after 10 years of teaching art, I finally upgraded my knife from beyond the el cheapo student grade to a fancy ergonomic version. It includes blade storage and anti roll bump! Woo Hoo!