Kindergarteners have an extremely difficult time differentiating between lower-case b and lower-case d. This is a tough mountain to climb, because students will misspell words when writing. Students will also incorrectly decode words when reading if they are unable to decipher the letter correctly.
It is important that we give our students explicit instruction on b and d in order to head off this difficult task of visual discrimination.
Students will be seated on the carpet in front of me on the carpet. I will be standing up at the white-board.
"Today, we are going to learn a little trick to help us tell the difference between b and d. I know it is kind of hard for us sometimes when we are reading or writing, to know which direction the letter should point... so, we are going to hopefully learn something that will help us!"
"Today, we are going to put b and d to bed." (wait time, because they will be laughing) "Seriously, we are going to put them in a bed... Why?... because this will help us be able to see which letter looks which way!"
I will draw the word bed on the board, I will make the b and the d larger than the e. Then, I will draw a person laying down on the bed, with their head on the b and their feet on the d.
"Do you see my bed?" (wait time) "Look at this word... listen... I hear this word like this: /b/ /e/ /d/. Which sound did you head first?" (wait time) (Students will say "/b/.")
Yes, we heard the /b/ first... and which letter makes that sound?" (Students will say, "b.")
"Yes, b says /b/ and we heard it first..." (wait time) "That is because the b is first in the bed...... his stick come first in the word." (wait time) "So, if you see a letter with the stick first, it must be the b!... The bed shows us that!"
"So... if the letter that has the stick first is the b... then what does that mean about the letter that has the stick last?" (wait time) (Students will say, "That means it is the d!")
"Yes, the d has the stick last- the stick is after the circle for the letter d."
"Now that we heard the rules, let's review it once more before we practice!"
"B has the stick BEfore. Say it with me." Students will say, "B has the stick BEfore."
"D has the stick after. Say it with me." Students will say, "D has the stick after."
"B goes to bed first... D goes to bed after... Say it with me." Students will say, "B goes to bed first... D goes to bed after..."
"Good! I am going to leave our little bed up here to remind us about b and d while we practice!"
It is important that students have the time to independently practice with B and D. Although direct instruction and guided instruction are good, we really need to allow our students the time they need to build these skills and use their visual strategies for themselves.
Here are some activities I like to have students complete:
I have a font sort that I will have students complete. I think that this is important because students need to have repeated practice simply differentiating between these two very similar letters. I will assess students' work for correctness. I can use a font sort as an assessment as well; If students have more than a few letters misplaced, I will do some re-teaching with the bed model.
I will encourage students to look at the bed on the board if they are unsure of where to sort a letter. This will hang up as a reference for writing throughout the year.
I like to have students work with a book including b's and d's where they can circle the b's with one color and the d's with another color- this will really help them look to visually discriminate between the two. Also, students will be able to go back and read their book with helpful, colorful reminders of how to sound out all of the b's and d's (which causes less confusion and therefore provides more fluency)!
I also like to put a practice page up on the board with b's and d's (and even p's and q's added in) for students to practice with. I like do do this because it allows students to practice the sounds of these letters, every day, very quickly! Also, I can hear students' responses and assess immediately. If I need to pull this chart and use it for re-teaching, I can do that easily.
In addition to student practice, I like to make things fun! Here is a cool video from Between the Lions on b and d confusion that the students love to watch!
In order for our students to really master the skill of fluently differentiating between b and d, it is important that we allow them to participate in various types of practice.
After we complete this lesson, I like to extend it into my centers. I really like to put a b and d sorting game into my fine motor center (where students roll a b and d dice or cut our b's and d's).
I also like to put an activity in my phonics center where students connect a picture, with the /b/ or /d/ sound to its' letter. For example, students might sort words like bus, bear, duck, drink, etc. into categories in a pocket chart and then sound out and write the words in the appropriate place on a response sheet. I can assess students' appropriate sorting and their correct formation of b and d.
I think it is important that we have our students practice differentiating between b and d through centers and/or homework because the more practice we provide, the more likely our students are going to be able to grasp this difficult visual discrimination.
Attached are some helpful resources that I like to use for student practice with b and d!