Today in the cursive handwriting series on The OT Toolbox, we’re talking all about gross motor activities and gross motor cursive writing warm-up exercises that can be used to work on and teach cursive letter formation. These are fun activities that can be used with kids who haven’t even yet attempted to write their first letter in cursive.
If you are teaching cursive writing to a student, this cursive writing series is for you.
If you are concerned about how to teach cursive writing to students, then this cursive writing series is for you.
If you are you a therapist who is looking for strategies and creative ideas to help students improve cursive writing as a means of functional and legible handwriting, then this cursive series is for you.
Below, you’ll find ways to teach cursive writing by addressing the motor plan and verbal cues needed for cursive letter formation in a playful and fun way.
This post and the posts you’ll see here over the next month are 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.
Gross Motor Cursive Writing Warm-up Exercises
One strategy for teaching cursive writing is using a warm-up program with gross motor movement activities. This is an easy way to get kids moving and ready to focus on cursive writing practice. The large motor cursive writing exercises described below can be used with kids who haven’t yet started on cursive writing instruction. They can also be used at the start of each cursive practice session as a warm-up tool.
An added bonus for the classroom teacher is that these activities can be a much needed brain break activity during the school day.
Introduce the cursive motions needed for letter formation using large motor patterns. This can be done in a variety of creative ways (described below). Students who are learning a new series of letters or new cursive letter family can practice the movement patterns using large motor or gross motor exercises.
TIP: Try teaching groups of letters together based on the components of the letters. Teaching cursive letters by their cursive letter families can help kids learn letter formation and with carryover.
Gross Motor Exercises for Pre-Cursive Writing
Gross motor cursive warm-ups can be done as a class or individually. For kids who are not yet learning cursive writing, use the gross motor cursive writing warm-up exercises as an introduction for verbal prompts they will hear as they begin to learn letters.
Instruct children to complete the exercises using a model and with consistent verbal cues. Verbal cues should be the prompts that will be used for cursive letters (i.e. “Start at the bottom. Swoop up. Trace back down. Stop. Swing away.”) Repeat a series of motions needed for a specific letter family or letter.
The teacher or therapist should stand in front of the students with their back facing the students so that the motions are consistent and the class is able to copy the large motor motions.
Instruct students to continue with a set of loops, scalloped motions (such as forming a series of lowercase cursive “u’s” in the air), or bumps (as in forming a series of lowercase cursive letter “m’s” in the air.)
Children can move their arms through the air as they practice writing the cursive letter family strokes. Then move onto individual letters. Try using some of the ideas below to work on gross motor motions for introducing cursive letters.
Gross Motor Cursive Writing Activities
Use a movement stick with a ribbon attached to a dowel rod. This is an easy do-it-yourself craft that kids can work on together and to get excited about learning cursive. Or, use a highlighter or marker with a lid. Tie long ribbons in a knot under the lid of the marker. This is a fun activity for the whole class.
Allow each student to use a pencil with the eraser side pointing out into the air, as if the pencil were a wand. Ask them to hold the pencil tip in their hand and use the pencil wand to form letters or cursive family strokes in the air.
Students can use a paintbrush on a chalkboard to draw letters in water. Ask them to draw large movements.
Children can hold a feather to draw letters in the air.
Students can use their finger to work on cursive connectors or cursive family strokes on the back of another student.
As noted above, be sure to use consistent verbal prompts when using gross motor cursive writing warm-up exercises.
Don’t forget to try all of the cursive writing strategies in the How to Teach Cursive Writing series!
More cursive writing resources (Click on the images to find out more):
You’ll find more cursive writing strategies by clicking the images below: