Is that a “b” or a “d”? Many children have difficulty with distinguishing between “b” and “d.” There are lots of worksheets available on the internet that can help with this. Or here are a quick worksheets I made up (so you can see how easily you can create personalized exercises for your child). Another
Silly stories or sentences: Another method is to make up a story (it can be silly if you want–silly stories are more fun and therefore both the story and the letter learning are more memorable for your child), that contains lots of words which contain b, d, or both. You can even have your child practice the “sounds” by having him brainstorm a list of b and d words to use in the story. Have him circle all the “b”s and draw a square around the “d”s; then read the story aloud.
Fisty letters: Another very handy trick is to have your child make fists with both hands, and have the fists facing each other with the thumbs pointing up: the child will immediately see “b” and “d”–and of course “b” comes before “d.”
Sketch it! Another thing to do is draw a sketch of a bed with a headboard and footboard. At the left end of the bed print “b,” put an “e” in the middle, and a “d” at the right-hand end. You can even write a big “b” and a big “d” on papers, and have the child place them on his own bed at the left and right end (and a big “e” in the middle if you wish).
Hands-on and practical: The more hands-on and practical you make your methods, the better. Another good b/d trick is to think of two things that go together: bat and ball. If you can get real ones, you can set them on a table with the bat laying as the “stick” part of the “b” and the ball laying as the “round” part of the “b” beside the bat. Then the child can draw the bat and ball in the “b” shape, and underneath them, write several b’s.
For the “d” you can set up a “drum and drumstick,” and have the child draw it, then practice the “d” letter.
Use your imagination: You can use these kinds of methods for other “problem letters” like p/g (draw a picture frame; write the word “pig” with the “stick” of the “p” as part of the left hand frame; the “stick” of the “g” as part of the right hand frame (and curling along the bottom frame), and the i (and/or a pig picture) in the middle. These kinds of “memory tricks” are limited only by your imagination–or perhaps even better, your child’s imagination. If the child can come up with her own memory tricks, she’ll remember even better!
Books: There are some useful books out there that can help children with learning their alphabet. One is Curious George Learns the Alphabet which has the letters integrated into animal shapes. For example, the “p” is a “penguin” and the “g” is a “goldfish.” As the letters are actually part of the animal picture, it really helps the child remember it.
Uppercase or lowercase confusion: Children also sometimes get confused between uppercase and lowercase letters. If you are just starting out teaching the alphabet, I highly recommend teaching the lowercase letters and short vowel sounds first. But if the child is already confused, you can think up some “tricks” to solve the confusion. For example, for confusion between “g” and “G,” you can show/tell your child this: Draw lowercase “g” as a cat. Its face starts like a small “a,” circles around and comes up to the point of its ear. Then draw its long tail hanging straight down, and at the end curls under itself. To draw uppercase “G” simply remember this rhyme: “Capital G is just like C, But cross the lower end like capital T.”
More great tips: For more great tips, check out my Improve Handwriting and Stop Reversals booklet available at my TeachersPayTeachers store.
What methods do you use to help your children sort out their alphabet letters?