Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise

deep breathing mindfulness activity for halloween

This Halloween activity is one that I came up with while thinking about our recent Halloween Occupational Therapy activities post. So often, we see kids who struggle with coping strategies and require tools to improve self regulation. This can occur at school or at home. What if we could combine a child’s interest in all things Halloween with a deep breathing exercise that can be used as a coping strategy, or a calm down activity? That’s where this pumpkin deep breathing exercise comes in.

This deep breathing exercise uses a pumpkin for a coping strategy for kids that is a calm down strategy this Halloween.

Deep Breathing Exercise

So often, parents and teachers ask for strategies to use as a coping mechanism. When kids have coping tools in their toolbox for addressing sensory needs, worries, and getting to that “just right” state of regulation, a self-reflective state can occur.

Addressing specific needs like sensory overload, worries or anxiety, fears, or nervousness can be as simple as having a set of sensory coping strategies on hand. One way to do this is using mindfulness and positive coping skills like this deep breathing exercises.

Deep breathing exercises help with mindfulness and coping skills for several reasons:

When kids are taught about how their body feels and reacts in certain situations, they can self-reflect on past responses. They can better understand who they are and how their body reacts to stressful or sensory situations. By better understanding their states of regulation, they can be mindful of things that may set them off, but better yet, know how to respond. Having a coping strategy on hand can set them up for success in learning or social situations. Practicing mindfulness activities and coping strategies can be powerful for kids.

Mindfulness is the ability and awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations as our body responds or reacts in thought, feeling, and sensations. Mindfulness is being present in the moment in any given situation with full awareness of inward and outward sensations. Practicing mindful awareness through deep breathing exercises is one way to notice how our body is reacting in a given moment and provides a tool to reset. Coping skills for kids may include deep breathing as just one strategy.

Here are some mindfulness videos on YouTube to help kids better understand what coping strategies and mindfulness in action looks and feels like.

Deep breathing acts as a coping tactic and a calming activity. It’s an easy coping strategy for kids because taking deep breaths with mindful breathing can be done anywhere and without any equipment.

Taking controlled breaths with deep breathing can give kids a sense of control that helps them rest and address self-regulation or emotional regulation when they are upset, worried, or feel a need to calm down.

coping skills…with a pumpkin

So now that we’ve covered deep breathing and why it’s a helpful coping strategy for kids, let’s talk about a fun Halloween themed coping strategy that kids will love to try.

This deep breathing activity uses a simple picture of a pumpkin, but you can use a real pumpkin, too. The small decorative gourds or pie pumpkins are perfect for this activity, because kids can hold the small pumpkin in their hands and feel the weight of the pumpkin as they complete the breathing strategy.

Using a pumpkin picture or real pumpkin, show kids how to use deep breathing as a coping tool by taking calming breaths while they trace the lines of the pumpkin.

Trace the lines up toward the stem while taking a deep breath in. Hold the breath for a few seconds and then trace a line down another section of the pumpkin while slowly breathing out. Hold that breath for a few seconds. Repeat this process as you slowly trace up and down the sections of the pumpkin.

Use a pumpkin as a deep breathing exercise for a coping strategy for kids.

How to Write Cursive a

Teaching cursive handwriting is a challenge for many parents and teachers.  Taking it step-by-step is key. Here, you will find strategies for how to write cursive letter a. Many times, there is not a specific curriculum that schools use and teachers need to scramble for resources and THEN fit handwriting time into an already jam packed day. That’s why here at The OT Toolbox, you will find cursive writing tools that can be easily added into a school day. So, if you are wondering how to teach cursive writing, then you are in luck, because we have specific tips and tricks to teach cursive letters a-z.  

Here you will find tricks and tips to write cursive a…in fun ways!

Teach kids how to write cursive a with these cursive writing activities, tips and tricks that will stick.  

How to Write Cursive a

Lowercase cursive letter a is one of the wave letters.  The letters c, a, d, g, q, and o make up these letters that contain similar letter strokes. That’s why when children are taught to write in cursive, these letters are typically grouped together. We talked about how cursive letters are related and grouped into cursive letter families. Teaching cursive letters in groups helps with letter formation, including the motor plan to form similar letters. When kids can practice cursive with a sensory approach to writing letters, they engage multiple senses along with the motor movements to form each letter. Grouping them into like letters makes the learning easier.

Let’s get started with cursive letter a!

Start with reviewing cursive letter c

Start by reviewing and practicing cursive letter c. Cursive letter c (and cursive a) is a wave letter. Starting with some pencil strokes and multi-sensory practice of the wave formation is a good place to begin. Try some multi-sensory approaches to build motor planning for forming cursive a. 

Hold a small crafting pom pom or cotton ball in the thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger. This positions the hand into a tripod grasp and “wakes up” the muscles for writing. Holding the cotton ball, students can use whole arm motions to “draw” an imaginary wave in the air. Encourage them to be sure to re-trace the wave so it has a big curved portion at the top or crest of the wave. Here is more information on teaching wave letters. 

By re-tracing that wave back down to the bottom, they can see the letter “c” or the beginning part of a letter a forming. One tip to get that line really formed with re-trace is to tell kids tha they want the wave to be great for surfing under. If the wave is fat at the bottom, it’s not a surfing wave. We want to see a wave that is ready to fall over and crash so a surfer can surf right along the inside of the wave.

Making a string of cursive c’s or a wave with several waves together is a good exercise.

These handwriting tips can help teach kids how to write cursive a

Multi-sensory approaches to teaching letters

  • Use the pom pom/cotton ball large motor method described above
  • Practice the wave curves (focus on those thin, ready to break waves!) on the palm of the hand, by “writing” with the pointer finger
  • Rainbow write with crayons, markers, or chalk
  • Paint water onto construction paper
  • Try some of the sensory writing strategies described in this free creative cursive writing journal 


Write Cursive Step-by-step

Next, turn cursive c into cursive a.

Once that curved c is reviewed, and the students are tracing back over their wave lines so the curve looks like a single line, it’s time to turn lowercase c into lowercase a. 

Teach cursive a by telling students to form a cursive c that looks like a wave ready to crash over. Their pencil should trace back over the wave line and move along the baseline. The pencil should move straight up to the top of the wave and pause where the wave is just about to tip over. Next, the pencil should trace strait back down to the bottom line of the paper. Then, the pencil can move along the baseline to connect to the next letter. Here are tips to teach cursive letter connections.

Here are those cursive writing directions listed out:

  1. Write a cursive c with the top of the wave ready to crash.
  2. Move the pencil along the baseline and up to touch the tip of the wave. 
  3. Pull the pencil strait down to the baseline.
  4. Curve away to connect.

Fix cursive writing problems

What happens when the cursive a (or other writing in cursive) falls flat? There can be some troubleshooting to do when it comes to writing in cursive. Here are some problems you might see whth letter a.

  • The lines curving up to the top of the lowercase a aren’t touching- Remind the student to trace back over the curve of their magic c. Review how to make the curve of a letter c.
  • The “wave” looks to wide- A gaping wave can make the letter a look sloppy. Teach students to trace back over the curve of the along the same line. Try using rainbow writing for this method.
  • The up line to touch the top of the a is slanted. The a looks

Read here to find more tips to teach each cursive letter.

How to teach cursive letter a.