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Language and Communication distinguish letter b from letter d in writing  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


Techniques for learning how to distinguish the letter b from the letter d.

Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Curriculum skill:English Writing
P-scales/Curriculum level:L1b
TAP skill:Writing
TAP level:TAP56
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info; Secondary (11-16yrs) info
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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
b and d fingers

No resources needed other than pupil's hands.

1. Make sure the pupil can recite the first 4 letters of the alphabet in the correct order, without hesitating: a b c d.

2. Make sure they know that the alphabet is written from left to right. If not, practise this with moveable letters.

3. Show them how to make a b shape with their left hand. The tips of the thumb and forefinger touch to form the rounded part of the b. The other fingers go straight up to form the upright part.

4. Show them how to make a d shape in the same way with the right hand.

5. They then recite the first four letters of the alphabet. When they say b, they hold up their left hand in the shape of a b. When they get to d, they hold up their right hand in the shape of a d.


With this technique, children will not need to rely on anyone or anything else to help them check which way each of these letters faces.

All they need to remember is to hold up their left hand first - but if they know the alphabet goes from left to right this is unlikely to be a problem.

Encourage them to see what they are doing inside their head, so that as they grow older, they do not have use their hands.

Reducing capital B

Pencil, paper and rubber, or whiteboard and dry-wipe pen

1. Ask pupil to write a capital B.

2. Slowly rub out the top curve of the B.

3. Show them how this finishes up as a lower case b.

4. Ask them to do this for themselves 2 or 3 times.

5. Ask them to shut their eyes and see the top of the B fading out inside their head.

Many children have no difficulty with capital B and D.

This technique uses capital B to help them remember lower case b.

Writing b and d with the correct sequence of strokes

Handwriting programme, pencil and paper

1. Follow any handwriting programme that encourages writing b and d in a single flowing movement.

2. Whenever they practice a b or d, they must say the letter at the same time, so they are linking the name of the letter with the movements their hand makes.

When written properly, b and d are not exact mirror images of each other.

If they start with 'lead in strokes', they look more different still.

It is important children do not form either letter as a stick and a separately drawn circle.

'c, d'

Pencil, paper and rubber, or whiteboard and dry-wipe pen

1. When writing the d, encourage the pupil to say 'c, d'.

2. They start to write the d in exactly the same way as they would write the letter c.

3. They then continue this into a d.

4. You may need to model this first.

This is a technique for remembering how to write d.

They can remember the sequence 'c, d' either because the letters come in that order in the alphabet, or because it's what you put in a CD player.

b and d drawing of bed

Paper and pencil, or other drawing/colouring equipment.

1. Draw a picture of a bed, so that the upright of the b is the bedpost at the head of the bed and the upright of the d is the post at the foot of the bed.

2. The rounded bits of the b and d, and the e in the middle make the mattress.

3. Link the /b/ sound at the start of bed to the b and the /d/ sound at the end of the bed to the d.

For this activity to be helpful, pupils need to recognise that bed starts with a /b/ sound and ends with a /d/ sound.

After they have used the picture of the bed for a while, encourage them to see it inside their head.

Bat and ball

Pencil, paper and rubber, or whiteboard and dry-wipe pen

1. Write the letter b quite large.

2. Turn the upright part of the b into a bat.

3. Turn the curved part of the b into a ball.

4. The child repeats the phrase 'bat and ball' in that order.

5. They go over the b you have written with their finger, making the correct sequence of strokes, while saying 'bat and ball'

6. Ask them to shut their eyes and see the bat and ball inside their head - they show you with their hands where the bat is and where the ball is.

7. This will help them remember the upright bit of the b (the bat) comes before the curved bit (the ball).

This technique helps them remember which way round the b is.

The pupil will need to be aware that the words bat and ball both start with a /b/ sound.

Don't worry if your drawing is not great art!

Repeat on several different days.

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