Cursive Letter Formation "Wave Letters" | The OT Toolbox

Cursive Letter Formation "Wave Letters"

As we discussed in the previous post titled cursive families you can see there are groups of cursive letters that are similar information. In this post we will discuss "Wave Letters". These are the cursive letters that start with a wave curve beginning at the baseline and curving up to the middle line. The wave curve then traces back over itself but pulls away at the baseline to form a cursive "c". This formation is used in the initial portion of cursive letters a, d, g, q, and o.

Working on these letters together in a group can help with formation as students are practicing the motor plan needed for cursive wave letters.



Practice cursive letter formation using Wave Letters to practice handwriting and teach cursive letter c, a, d, g, q, and o with this fun fish handwriting activity.




This post is part of our 31 day series on teaching cursive. You'll want to check out the How to Teach Cursive Writing page where you can find all of the posts in this series. For more ways to address the underlying skills needed for handwriting, check out the handwriting drop-down tab at the top of this site.

For resources in handwriting, join us in the Sweet Ideas for Handwriting Help Facebook group.

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Cursive wave letters are cursive letter c, a, d, g, q, and o. Using a wave can help kids learn to write these cursive letters.


Cursive Letter Formation of Wave Letters


When instructing students in forming these letters, start by outlining a cursive letter lesson plan of activities. You can read more about cursive letter lesson plans here.

When teaching the Wave Letters, start by asking students to practice a wave of cursive lines. This can look like a string of cursive letter "c's" joined together. Children can draw the wave across a page. Be sure to instruct students to draw a wave with the proper re-trace back from the crest of the wave.

When beginning with cursive instruction, students should concentrate on curving up but not going beyond the middle line, tracing back over the same line, and swinging away at the base of the wave. Start initially with just this formation several times. Students can then string together a group of cursive letter "c's" soon after they learn this prompt. 

Practice cursive letter formation using Wave Letters to practice handwriting and teach cursive letter c, a, d, g, q, and o with this fun fish handwriting activity.

To help teach the concept "wave letters" for formation of cursive c, a, d, g, q, and o: Try this wave and fish activity!

We used a blue plastic tray and a dry erase marker to draw the waves and the cursive letters. This would be great practice for kids to improve their re-trace needed for the wave letters. 

With the dry erase marker, write the wave letters on the tray. Then, make fish from cardstock. Write a cursive letter on each fish. Kids can work on letter identification by matching the fish to the letters on the tray. You can also play a form of "Go Fish" by creating more letter cards. When students need to "go fish", they can write the letter they need on the tray. It's fun practice!

Tips for teaching cursive wave letters


Focus on the retrace when teaching cursive letters c, a, d, g, q, and o. This can be done with a highlighter or colored markers. Try this cursive re-trace activity described previously on the OT toolbox using colored color changing markers for addressing re-trace.

Use short phrases to instruct cursive formation. Phrases like "Pause", "Stop", "Trace back", "Swing away to connect" can help. Prompts should involve starting and stopping points such as "Stop at the baseline", "stop at the middle line", and "Stop at the top line". Line names should remain consistent with names used by the student in learning printed handwriting.

Students learning the Wave Letters will benefit from a clock image. Students can visualize the stopping point for the top crest of the wave for cursive letters c, a, d, g, q, and o as 1 o'clock on the face of the clock. Students who are learning cursive have most likely been exposed to learning time and the image of a clock.  

How to Teach Lowercase Cursive c


Use the following verbal prompts to teach lowercase cursive letter "c":

Start at the baseline. Curve up to the right and stop at 1:00 on the the middle line. Pause. Trace back along the face of the clock. Then swing away to connect.


How to Teach Lowercase Cursive a


Use the following verbal prompts to teach lowercase cursive letter "a":

Start at  the baseline. Curve up to the right and stop at 1:00 on the middle line. Pause. Trace back along the face of the clock. Travel along the baseline. Spike up to 1:00. Pause. Trace back down. Pause. Swing away to connect.

How to Teach Lowercase Cursive d


Use the following verbal prompts to teach lowercase cursive letter "d":

Start at the baseline. Curve up to the right and stop at 1:00 on the middle line. Pause. Trace back along the face of the clock. Travel along the baseline. Spike up to 1:00 and continue to the top line. Pause. Trace back down to the baseline. Swing a way to connect.

How to Teach Lowercase Cursive g


Use the following verbal prompts to teach lowercase cursive letter "g":

Start at the baseline. Curve up to the right and stop at 1:00 on the middle line. Pause. Trace back along the face of the clock. Travel along the baseline. Spike up to 1:00. Stop at the middle line. Trace back down past the baseline. Loop left. Swing a way to connect.

How to Teach Lowercase Cursive q


Use the following verbal prompts to teach lowercase cursive letter "q":

Start at the baseline. Curve up to the right and stop at 1:00 on the middle line. Pause. Trace back along the face of the clock. Travel along the baseline. Spike up at one to 1:00. Stop at the middle line. Trace back down past the baseline. Loop right and touch the baseline. Swing a way to connect.

How to Teach Lowercase Cursive o


Use the following verbal prompts to teach lowercase cursive letter "o":

Start at the baseline. Curve up right to the right and stop at 1:00 on the middle line. Pause. Trace back along the face of the clock. Travel along the baseline. Curve up right around the clock to 1:00. Pause. Swing a way to connect.

You can see how, with all of these verbal prompts, it would be overwhelming to learn cursive only by verbal instruction. For this reason it is very important that students visualize each step as it's performed. This can happen on an overhead with the chalkboard or whiteboard classroom instruction, one-on-one with verbal visual and verbal cues, and with close models of the letters. Another strategy is a visual model of letters with direction arrows.

Practice each letter in a group focusing on one letter at a time. Use the wave model as a guide. When a new letter is introduced, continue with previously learned letters. If a c is taught first followed by a letter a, students can connect "c" to "a" almost immediately after learning letter "a".

More Cursive Handwriting Tools and Resources:










More cursive writing resources (Click on the images to find out more):




Need help with the underlying skills needed for handwriting? Start here on our Handwriting resources page.


The Handwriting Book  is a huge resource when it comes to addressing handwriting concerns. It's a book written by 10 occupational therapists and physical therapists and refers to every underlying skill related to written work. This is a tool for therapists, teachers, and parents.

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Practice cursive letter formation using Wave Letters to practice handwriting and teach cursive letter c, a, d, g, q, and o with this fun fish handwriting activity.

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