How to Teach Cursive Handwriting

You may have heard on our social media channels or via our newsletter that we have an exciting new series planned here on The OT Toolbox. Over the next month, you will find strategies, tools, and tips to teach cursive handwriting

This cursive writing series is designed to provide many different ideas for helping kids learn cursive writing for the first time or to address problems like cursive writing legibility.

Many times parents and teachers struggle with how to teach cursive handwriting. These cursive tips, cursive writing tools, and handwriting activities will help kids learn to write in cursive.

Cursive writing is being taught in the schools less than before. Teachers struggle to find time within their busy day to focus on the pre-writing exercises needed for cursive writing. Many times, teachers and entire school districts don’t have a specific cursive writing curriculum to follow. 

This means teachers across the hall from one another in the same building can be instructing students in very different ways. Some kids in the same school district may have more practice that other kids. 

When those students age into older grades, some will be able to write with more legibility and a better base of cursive handwriting knowledge than others.

Other schools have completely eliminated cursive writing. What may happen then is that parents instruct their children at home or not at all.

For other children who struggle with printed work or who present with handwriting problems in general, cursive writing is a strategy for legibility.  For the child who struggles with dysgraphia, the fluid motion and reduced pencil movements of cursive can help with legibility.

For all of these reasons, we wanted to share an intense look at cursive writing.

Watch the video below.  You may have seen it floating around on Facebook. But if not, check it out. Cursive handwriting, and teaching the art of cursive is very needed in our kids today!

Over the next 31 days, you’ll find writing exercises, tricks, strategies, and activities designed to teach cursive handwriting.

Be sure to stop back to this page each day over the month of October. We will add a link to each cursive writing tool here. When the month is over, you’ll have all of these cursive writing strategies in one place. Bookmark or Pin this page so you don’t lose it and can come back to the cursive writing tools over the next month.

This cursive writing series will work similarly to our previous 31 day series on handwriting.

One tip about this month’s series on cursive handwriting: This series is not intended to be completed in 31 days. Cursive writing involves pre-writing practice, instruction to ensure proper formation, and practice. It’s important to ensure carryover of skills by coming back to practice proper motor plans for legibility and success.

This 31 day series will go through all of the steps of learning cursive writing and teachers, therapists, and parents will love these handwriting strategies to teach cursive handwriting.

How to Teach Cursive Handwriting

31 Days of Cursive Handwriting:




To find more cursive handwriting tricks and tips, check out these ideas:

Cursive writing tools to buy (Click on the image to find out more):
Affiliate links are included in this post. 

Kids will love these cursive writing tips and handwriting ideas to learn cursive handwriting.
Try this 31 day cursive writing series to teach kids to learn cursive. Therapists and teachers can use these handwriting tips, cursive writing tools, and cursive strategies to teach cursive handwriting.

How to teach cursive writing with tips, strategies, ideas, and research

Squirrel Brain Breaks

We’ve been sharing a bunch of brain break ideas here on The OT Toolbox recently. You may have seen our recent Best Brain Breaks on YouTube post or some printable brain break activities like the themed activities including these apple themed brain breaks, and bear brain breaks. Each of these links includes a free printable sheet so you can download and use these brain break ideas over and over again. Scroll on down and you’ll find a few more printable sheet ideas to incorporate movement into learning and play with special themes.

Squirrel Brain Breaks

squirrel brain breaks for a squirrel themed activity for kids

Movement breaks have been shown to improve academic achievements, attention, and more.

Squirrel brain breaks for a brain break themed activity that promotes movement for kids in the classroom or home this Fall while improving focus and attention through movement.

Today, you’ll find squirrel brain break ideas to use during the Autumn months when the leaves are falling and squirrels are running around finding and hiding acorns and other nuts to stock up for the winter.

Many times, the Fall months mean squirrel and leaf books and learning in the classroom or at home. These squirrel brain breaks can be the perfect accompaniment for a Fall theme.

Affiliate links are included in this post.

We read the children’s book, Scaredy Squirrel by and were inspired to come up with squirrel themed brain breaks to go along with the book.

Print the Squirrel Brain Breaks and use them today. Don’t forget to read the book, too!

Squirrel Brain Breaks – Ideas for the Classroom

One of the Squirrel Brain Breaks on the printable sheet includes the action song,
I’m an Acorn Small and Round”. It’s one of our favorite songs to sing during the autumn months. This action song is a fun one!

Lyrics to I’m an Acorn Small and Round

I’m an acorn, small and round (hold hands into a small ball)
Lying on the cold, cold ground (Lay down on the floor)
Everybody steps on me (Stomp foot)
That is why I’m cracked you see (Hold hands above eyes like binoculars)
I’m a nut! (Dance)
(Click, click with tongue)
I’m a nut! (Dance)
(Click, click with tongue)
I’m a nut I’m a nut I’m a nut (Dance)
(Click, click with tongue)
You can hear the song here.

Squirrel and Acorn Themed Activities

Squirrel Activities

The book Scaredy Squirrel is this week’s book in the Virtual Book Club for Kids series. Each week, a team of bloggers tackles activities based on a popular children’s book. You can find all of the squirrel and acorn themed activities below:

Squirrel brain breaks for a brain break themed activity that promotes movement for kids in the classroom or home this Fall while improving focus and attention through movement.


Best Brain Breaks Videos on YouTube

Teachers are sometimes looking for movement and activity videos that they can use in the classroom. They may need movement ideas for throughout the day when kids need a brain break or they may want to start the day with a movement activity. Other times, kids need a movement “wake up” midway through the day when they are feeling and acting sluggish or even a little high energy. Maybe students need to get their bodies moving before a test and the perfect brain break for kids is just the ticket. Or, maybe teachers are looking for a way to get the kids moving during indoor recess time. Maybe you are a parent who is looking for ways to get the kids moving on a rainy day.

Below, you’ll find some great brain break videos on YouTube. These are videos that can be pulled up on a smartboard in the classroom. 

Brain Break Videos on YouTube

The best brain break videos on YouTube can be used for classroom brain break needs, indoor movement and gross motor skills, circle time, indoor recess, or rainy days.


Brain Breaks for kids

Brain breaks are considered fun for the brain, AND a great way to shift gears. Check out the videos below for ways to add movement activities to the classroom.

But first, if you are looking for some printable brain break ideas, here are some of our favorites:
Apple Theme Brain Breaks
Farm Theme Brain Breaks
Bear Brain Breaks
Squirrel Theme Brain Breaks

On to the brain break videos.  Try these videos to get the whole classroom up and moving!

Move and Freeze Song 

Shake Your Sillies Out

Count to 100 with Exercise

I Am a Gummy Bear

I’m Gonna Catch You

Frozen Themed Yoga

The Sid Shuffle – Ice Age: Continental Drift

Trolls: Can’t Stop The Feeling | GoNoodle

I Get Loose – Koo Koo Kanga Roo | GoNoodle

Move To Learn Fitness Break!

Move to Learn Pre K Counting

Going On a Bear Hunt with Dr. Jean

Dr. Jean’s Banana Dance – (aka The Guacamole Song) – Dr. Jean’s Banana Dance

If You’re a Kid (Dance Around!) (song for kids about following directions)

Brain Breaks | Following Directions | Physical Education | Get Up To Get Down | Jack Hartmann

Letters of the Alphabet | Capital Letters | Uppercase Letters | Alphabet Workout | Jack Hartmann

Letters of the Alphabet | Lower Case Letter Formation | Alphabet Workout | Jack Hartmann

Hand Clapping Game “Bim Bum”

Classroom Yoga (Classroom Physical Activity Breaks)

Yoga for Kids – Children’s Yoga – Brain Breaks – Kids Songs by The Learning Station

The best brain break videos on YouTube can be used for classroom brain break needs, indoor movement and gross motor skills, circle time, indoor recess, or rainy days.

Preschool Centers to Develop Pre-Writing Skills

The preschool classroom is a bustling place of activity, play, learning, and development.  All of these areas are happening at once, driven by the focus and intention of the preschool teacher.  I’ve had readers ask how to incorporate more developmental areas into group activities for the preschool aged child and how to incorporate development of pre-writing skills into a small group setting.  

The activities below are ones that can be used in preschool centers or in small groups of children who are working on development of fine motor, visual perceptual motor skills needed for pre-writing and other tasks needed in a classroom setting. Considering all of the pre-writing skills that are developed during the preschool years, these centers can harness the excitement and play of creative play to promote development of skills needed throughout the child’s life.

The skills developed in the preschool setting has a lot to do with visual perceptual skills. You’ll find easy and fun ways to work on visual perceptual skills through play here. 
Use these preschool center ideas to help kids develop pre-writing skills and other developmental skills like visual motor and fine motor skills.

Preschool Centers and Development

Centers in the classroom are a common thing.  A center is a small group of children that work together on one area for a short period of time.  While in this small group, the children can work on a single area before moving on to a different center within the classroom.  You may see centers geared toward a single learning concept or area or you may see a center that combines motor involvement with learning.

In the preschool setting, centers include tactile play, play dough, water tables, blocks, imagination play, art creation, finger paints, sensory play, name writing, manipulatives, etc.

The Occupational Therapist can contribute information related to development and specific needs of the classroom when collaborating with the preschool teacher, focusing on fostering skill development through play and use of various media and materials within the centers.

Try setting up center activities on the floor to develop skills like crossing midline, core stability and strength, proprioceptive input, motor planning, arch development of the hands, shoulder stability, and more.

Skills to address in preschool centers:

Fine motor development
Gross motor development
Pincer grasp
Bilateral coordination
Crossing midline
Pre-writing skills
Eye-hand coordination
Manual coordination
Hand strength
Body coordination
Object manipulation
Grasp development

Fine Motor Preschool Center 

Fill a sensory table with different lengths of crepe paper for cutting
Squeeze water from small pieces of sponges into a water table
Spread out various lengths of cardstock and thin cardboard (open cereal boxes cut into strips)
Stringing beads
Set up Quiet Bins
Folding paper
Manipulating tape and envelopes
Thread recycled spools
Pinch clothespins onto paper stips
Poke pipe cleaners into a large cardboard box
Color match paper clips
Manipulate and build with rubber bands and blocks
Bead feathers

Writing Preschool Center

Copying shapes
Pre-writing lines with leaves
Copying letters
Stamping letters in play dough
Tracing shapes
Writing in wet clay
Drawing on carpet squares
Painting water on a chalkboard
Pencil control sheets

Visual Perception Preschool Center

Copying block shapes
Pegboard designs
I Spy activities
Geoboard designs
Memory games
Copy shapes with colored sticks
Color match craft sticks

Here is more information about strategies to address visual perceptual skills and handwriting.

Use these preschool center ideas to help kids develop pre-writing skills and other developmental skills like visual motor and fine motor skills.

Handwriting Accommodation Ideas

Many times kids who struggle with handwriting just need some accommodations in order to complete written work in a legible and efficient manner. The strategies listed below are handwriting accommodations that can be used in a variety of classroom settings or in homeschool. The compilation of instructional ideas and accommodations below are able to be used by therapist and teachers with kids who struggle with handwriting. Handwriting accommodations can be used across throughout the school day or in individual situations. You may have seen a previous post here on The OT Toolbox on Handwriting Accommodations for the Classroom. As you know, sometimes a strategy will work for a child’s particular needs and other times that idea will work for a short time. Sometimes you need to keep trying. Below, you will find MORE handwriting accommodation ideas for kids. 

Looking for more info on handwriting? Start here, at our handwriting help page.

Use these handwriting accommodation ideas to help kids with handwriting difficulties to write more legibly using alternate ideas that change how a student completes written work based on their needs.

Related Read: Try these handwriting accommodation strategies to address a variety of handwriting challenges. 

Handwriting Accommodation Ideas

1. Fill-in-the-blank worksheets can be used in place of written responses.
2. Use adapted handwriting paper such as stop go paper. Here are free adapted paper sources from around the internet.
3. Practice handwriting by using color changeable markers to address letter formation and motor planning needed for letters. 
4. Use manipulatives such as magnets to write answers to problems and written responses. 
5. Use a dry erase marker and whiteboard for written responses. 
6. Students can write using large graph paper with boxes for individual letters. 
7. Try using a sensory or writing tray for students to respond to multiple choice problems by forming letter responses in the sensory tray.
8. Use a sheet of sandpaper under written work for feedback in letter formation in line awareness. 
9. Use the computer for spelling tests and vocabulary tests. 
10. Stamp answers to spelling tests or multiple choice tests using letter stamps.
11. Provide adapted spelling test and vocabulary test using multiple choice problems where students can correct the can choose the correct answer by circling a letter. 
12. Use a highlighter for tests and worksheets where students can highlight the correct answer. 
13. Use a apps which can adapt worksheets into tablet form. Answers or responses can then be typed onto the tablet.
14. Explore several different pencil grips and pencil types to reduce the amount of pressure a student requires when writing. 
15. Add a red or green dot to margins to help students identify starting and stopping points for writing. 
16. Allow extra time for written responses.
17. use a handheld recorder to copy notes in older grades. 
18. Trial use of a gel pen.

What are some handwriting accommodations that you have seen in place to meet specific handwriting needs? Let us know in the Sweet Ideas for Handwriting Help Facebook group.

Here are some creative ways to work on handwriting needs.  Click on the link or the image to find out more:

 Writing too dark or too light.  Line awareness and spatial awareness without handwriting DIY slant board  Spatial awareness in handwriting

Handwriting accomodations for addressing handwriting needs

Pre-Writing Activity Leaf Theme

Handwriting and the visual motor skills needed for writing letters and numbers happens long before a child writes the alphabet.  There is a developmental progression of skills that a child must master before they are able to write A-Z. Pre-writing skills and pre-writing lines are just one of the skills that occur before a child writes or copies letters. The prewriting activity below is just one way to help children work on and develop the skills they need to accurately write letters on their own.

Pre-writing activity for helping kids develop the skills needed for pre-writing lines and handwriting using fall leaves

Pre-Writing Lines Activity 

Working on the skills needed to write letters and numbers involve the development of pencil control, visual motor skills, and visual perception.  You can read more about the developmental progression of pre-writing lines as well as a free printable that lists out pre-writing lines as they typically develop here on The OT Toolbox. 
This post on our Facebook page shows development of pre-writing lines and shapes by age
The pre-writing lines activity described below is just one way to help kids develop these skills, while working on abilities such as crossing midline and fine motor skills needed for handwriting.

Pre-Writing Activity Leaf Theme

You’ll need just a few items for this pre-writing activity:
Affiliate links are included in this post.
Leaves (Try to find smaller sized leaves to boost fine motor skills. We used leaves that had already changed colors on our burning bush.)
Permanent marker

Pre-writing activity for helping kids develop the skills needed for pre-writing lines and handwriting using fall leaves

To do this activity, simply draw one pre-writing line or shape on each piece of paper.

Use a glue stick to trace lines and work on pre-writing skills with this pre-writing lines activity for kids.

Pre-writing activity for helping kids develop the skills needed for pre-writing lines and handwriting using fall leaves

Then, ask your child or student to trace over the line with a glue stick.  A purple colored glue stick helps kids to see where they have traced the line. Be careful to provided assistance with this part of the activity if needed. The glue stick uses very little resistance when swiped on the paper. Kids can easily draw the glue line off of the stimulus line.

Then, kids can place leaves right on the glue line and sharpie line.  Ask them to gently press the leaf down, using finger isolation and separation of the two sides of the hand.

Pre-writing activity for helping kids develop the skills needed for pre-writing lines and handwriting using fall leaves

Leaf Theme Fine Motor Activity

This is a great activity to incorporate fine motor skills. Show your child or student how to pick leaves from a branch.  This allows children to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of their hand while working on bilateral coordination, graded grasp, pincer grasp, and an open thumb web space.
Don’t have small leaves in your area? No problem! Use paper cut outs by punching leaf shaped paper using this leaf hole punch. Allow the kids to punch the holes to boost hand strength.

This leaf themed activity goes along perfectly with the popular children’s book, Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert. Read the book and work on pre-writing lines with this leaf themed pre-writing activity!
Red Leaf Yellow Leaf is this week’s book in the Virtual Book Club for Kids series.  Check out the ideas below to find leaf themed movement, play, development, and learning ideas:

Use these fall leaves activities to help kids learn and develop skills like fine motor skills, gross motor skills, scissor skills, handwriting, and more using leaves.

Spell Your Name With Leaves   Clare’s Little Tots
Leaf Measurement and Sorting Activity  Inspiration Laboratories
Fall Sensory Bin  The Moments at Home
Foil Leaf Preschool Art  Preschool Powol Packets
Handprint Art Messy Little Monster
Nature Color Hunt  My Bored Toddler
Salt Painting – Artsy Momma
Leaf Printing   CrArty Kids
Fall Color Leaf Viewer  JDaniel4’s Mom
Lines and Watercolor Fall Leaves  Views From a Step Stool
Fall Leaf Color Stomp  Toddler Approved
Fall Leaf Shape Match  Teach Beside Me

Pre-writing activity for helping kids develop the skills needed for pre-writing lines and handwriting using fall leaves
Here are more LEAF ACTIVITIES that you will love:

Stress Free Handwriting Practice

Handwriting can be a stressful situation for many students. Encouraging written communication in a stress-free environment can help kids write more fluently and legibly.

For the student who is who struggles with handwriting, practicing written work can be very overwhelming. He or she may scribble down whatever is on their mind as quickly as they can just to get the task done. Encouraging an environment where students feel respected and less handwriting-related stress can help with handwriting legibility. Use the ideas below to encourage a climate of acceptance and respect where students can write in their own manner.

Stress-free handwriting practice ideas for kids who hate handwriting or have practiced handwriting but continue with frustration.

Stress free handwriting practice ideas

Encourage an environment of acceptance students can then right as they like without worrying about how letters are formed how they’re spaced or how hard they’re pressing with their pencil.

Encourage the freedom to write as they like. Let the students know it’s OK to write as they normally do and to be spontaneous and written work. This simple freedom can enable students to write more fluently and efficiently.

Take away the stress by limiting criticism, comparison, judgment, and competition regarding handwriting legibility. In this way students can know that what they are writing down on paper is more important than the way it looks.

Make writing fun! Take away the seriousness of handwriting practice by balancing freedom to experiment with ideas putting ideas on paper and producing clear written work. Encourage a fun writing assignment but make sure the student knows that it does take work to make written material legible.

Share excitement and encouragement about handwriting. Kids that see that handwriting practice can’t be fun will be more eager to practice. Use big motions, music, songs, rhymes, and any creative ideas like fun ways to work on letter formation to help kids spark enjoyment of handwriting practice.

Remove the obstacles of handwriting. Take away comparison, Over-analysis, judgment, and over-reactions to mistakes to help kids feel more at ease with handwriting.

Allow time. Give kids lots of time to put their ideas on paper. A graphic organizer can be one way to help kids get ideas down on paper in a visual way. They can then use the graphic organizer as a sloppy copy to help hand writing occur in a timely but efficient manner where they are given enough time to put their words on paper. Many times kids can work practice letter formation in legibility of him ready when they don’t have to think about what they are writing.

Let kids write without asking them to stop and correct mistakes. Students can write down their ideas and get answers on the paper without worrying about legibility mistakes or letter formation mistakes. Use a short period of time at the end of the assignment to quickly go over and check any legibility errors.

Collaborative writing. When kids right with others they can see the momentum that goes into hand writing. For the reluctant and writer sharing good ideas in writing in a group setting can help them to see that others are writing just as they are. Kids can also see good writing skills happening. Create a small group writing area where students can sit at a desk or table of 3 to 4 other students and each writes about one particular item that is sitting in the middle of the table such as a bowl of pipe cleaners. Use that physical picture as a writing prompt for students.

Balance the seriousness of handwriting with the freedom to experiment in written work. Kids should know that writing does take hard work but it can be fun to put your words on paper so that others can read them. Set up a writing pen-pal relationship where students correspond with students in another school. Here are a few sites to find a pen pal for students.

What are your favorite ways to encourage stress-free handwriting?

Stress-free handwriting practice ideas for kids who hate handwriting or have practiced handwriting but continue with frustration.

Try these handwriting ideas to work on the skills needed for legible written work:

 color mixing letter formation activity bold lines handwriting trick Small pencil trick for helping with a better pencil grasp  Thumb IP joint flexion pencil grasp trick

Fine Motor Bin Rotation System

Quiet bins are a tool that can be used in the classroom or at home. Many people use quiet bins as a way to hold an organized fine motor activities, visual motor activities, and other activities for kids. Many times teachers are looking for a center activity that can be used with a small group in the classroom that students can do individually or as a small group.  Fine Motor Bins or quiet bins can be used to address certain needs or learning objectives while the teacher is working with another small group of kids.  Below, you’ll find ideas to set up and organize a fine motor bin rotation system in schools.
So often teachers asked therapist for ideas that work on school learning objectives while incorporating fine motor skills or visual perception skills that are needed for handwriting and reading. Busy boxes and quiet bins are one way to address this need. Therapists can create bins that address many different underlying skill areas. 

Fine Motor center ideas for a fine motor bin rotation system in the school classroom, therapy clinic, or home.


Fine Motor Bin Rotation System

Affiliate links are included in this post. 

Try using these quiet bin ideas to incorporate goal areas for one or many students in the classroom. Many times, therapists are trying to meet the needs of one student in a push-in model of school-based therapy while encouraging development of fine motor skills of the whole classroom. A therapist that is pushing into the classroom can address specific needs while encouraging development that other kids need to progress on as well.

Fine Motor center ideas for a fine motor bin rotation system in the school classroom, therapy clinic, or home.

How to set up a fine motor bin rotation system

Quiet beans can be used in the classroom in several different ways. Try using these ideas to set up a quiet bin or fine motor bins for the classroom or home:
  • Use plastic bands like shoe boxes from the dollar store, cardboard shoe boxes that parents can send in, gallon size storage freezer bags, or other reusable type of box or bags.
  • Each fine motor bin can be set up with a specific theme or activity.
  • Consider making a quiet bin that works on specific fine motor skills like tripod grasp, open thumb seb space, intrinsic hand strength, or finger isolation.
  • Incorporate learning objectives such as math, color matching, English language arts tasks, or math skill areas into fine motor bins by attaching numbers, words, or symbols to pipe cleaners or clothes pins.


Rotating fine motor bins in the classroom

One way that teachers can use these quiet bins is by having an area in the classroom where they can easily and quickly grab a bin and set up a small group of students. 


If the occupational therapist has a storage room available, quiet bins can be set up on shelves with a check out type of system. Teachers can then go to the storage area grab one or several quiet bins, mark their name on a check out sheet, and use those quite bins in their classroom for a week or longer. They can then return the quiet bins and check out additional quiet bins as needed. 
Another idea for therapist to set up a quiet been system is to use a rolling cart. This is great for the therapist that doesn’t have a storage area or a space in the school available for hauling fine motor bins around the school. If a therapist has set up fine motor bin activities using gallon size storage bags, a rolling cart would be a nice way to keep these tidy and organized so that all teachers can easily sort through and grab the storage bins that they need. 
Therapists can educate teachers and personnel about the rotation system as well as the underlying fine motor skill areas that each activity bin promote. 


Students will love the rotation system of quiet bins as well because they can try out a variety of different hands on activities with the new and fresh activities that they may not have experienced before. This can help them to grasp learning and play while working on underlying skill areas.
Students can even be trained in using the fine motor bins to independently check out activities.


Have you used quiet bins or fine motor bins to address skills like pencil grasp, cutting with scissors, clothing fastener management, or any other fine motor skill areas?
Click on this video link to watch quiet been ideas that are set up real quick and can be used over and over again by many different students.

Fine Motor center ideas for a fine motor bin rotation system in the school classroom, therapy clinic, or home.