Many children confuse letters b and d, and a number of adults who read perfectly well still have to think before they write one of these letters.
Here’s a way to teach your child or student which letter is which.
FIRST, TEACH THE NAMES OF THESE PICTURES
First, teach your student the names of the following 2 memory pictures:
- bat and ball; and
SECOND, TEACH THE FIRST SOUND FOR EACH PICTURE
Second, teach your student the sound that begins each picture:
- /b/* for bat and ball; and
- /d/ for dog.
*The slash marks / / show that I’m talking about a sound, rather than a letter name. It’s difficult so say sounds /b/ and /d/ on their own, without adding a sort of /uh/ grunt on the end. So when you want to say /b/, think of tab, and try to just say the last sound, the /b/. (It’s really just the lips bursting apart. And when you want to say /d/, think of dad, and try to just say the last sound, the /d/.
THIRD, TEACH THE HAND SIGN FOR EACH SOUND
Third, show your student the hand sign for each sound:
- the bat and ball hand sign. The thumb represents the bat, and the palm and folded fingers represent the ball. (Note that the lemon wrist band shows the left* hand is being used.); and
- the dog hand sign. (This sign must be made with the right hand, the one without the wrist band.) The circle reminds students of the dog’s head, and the fingers sticking up remind students of the dog’s ears sticking up. Students might prefer to make the circle with the 3 other fingers, and point up with the pointer finger; either way is fine – so do what is more comfortable.
*Don’t tell students that they have to use their left hand. It’s often just too much information to remember. (How many adults do you know who have to look at their wedding ring to know which way is left?)
Instead, just ‘mark’ students’ left wrist or hand so they can easily know which hand to use. Letting them wear a watch band or a bracelet, or placing a dot with a marking pen on the left hand, thumbnail or wrist is usually sufficient..
FOURTH, TEACH STUDENTS THE LETTERS b and d, AND A MEMORY SENTENCE
Fourth, teach students the letters b for /b/, and d for /d/.
Don’t teach the letter names; instead, teach that the /b/ in bat and ball and its hand sign is the same shape as this letter – b. And show that the /d/ in dog and its hand sign is a similar shape as the letter d.
Then teach the memory sentence: Bat the ball to the dog.
They can say this memory sentence whenever they need to work out b and d, and they can do the hand signs at the same time – so they can SEE the correct shape for each letter.