Tricks of the Trade

  1. title tricks of the trade

Do you remember that learning to distinguish readily between lower case b, lower case d, and p, can be very confusing to the early learner?  … all the more to “dyslexic” students but that is another subject.

Even the most severe  and true dyslexic can learn how to distinguish those confusing letters, and after learning these TRICKS, practice is key.

Well, the more I think about it, explaining what I do is a whole lot more difficult than actually showing you, so… I am going to make myself get professional looking (rather than in my nightie) and make a video or two or three and load them here.  I will even try to video a lesson that I have with my granddaughter!

Enjoy, and know that, kids can be TAUGHT to distinguish the difference between b and d , for reading AND writing. Practice is key!  This must be practiced over and over.  Here is are two video glimpses of students in the middle of practicing handwriting to ingrain familiarity with proper letter formation and orientation of direction, thus the difference between “b” and “d” is being established in conceptual foundation.

Students using dry erase markers to practice, with verbal cues from teacher, proper formation of lower case letter “b.”

Lower case letter “b” starts the same as letters “h r m n p.”

b  h   r   m   n   p

all begin the same!  For all of those letters, I teach:

Start at the TOP and go DOWN, then UP, and then HUMP.  For b and p, after the hump there is an AROUND…

Here is another video.  They have mastered the lower case “b” for this day, so now we are trying to add the other DOWN UP HUMP letters:

Did you hear me whisper, “No talking,” ?  Generally I would not do that.  Often they sing with me while they write.  I was protecting their privacy.  ‘Nother topic for ‘nother time, and oh, I did not have them write the letter p.  Apparently I figured I should work with them in guided practice more on that letter before we added it to the group or line that we/they accomplished in this video.

Preceding this day’s work in the video, three of the four had worked with me on the lower case letter “b” quite a bit.  One little guy was new to it.  Only one of the previous three got it correct with no special help of instruction today prior to the videos.  Point being that this is not an easy concept for early readers and writers.

People think that it does not matter how the students form the letter as long as it looks good, and I disagree as a reading teacher.  I want the student and I to have a common language reference for these letters.

I want the child to see the letter “b” and recognize it is a DOWN UP HUMP letter with the “bat before the ball.”


Conversely, the letter “c” form, is actually the beginning of all of these letters (NO “bat before the ball” as for letter “b!”)

c   d   a   g   q   all begin like “c.”    For the letter “c,” teach start at the top, a little down and over, and then go a little UP, OVER and AROUND.


The letter “u” and the “n” can be confusing.

I teach children to remember that the letter “u” sits ready for the UPSIDE DOWN Umbrella!!  In fact with “umbrella being our anchor reference for the letter “u,” we have incorporated into our kinesthetic acting for letter “u,” not only the formation of our umbrella, but lastly we (acting out) TURN OUR UMBRELLA UPSIDE DOWN to sit inside of the letter “u.”


We also have a special story and kinesthetic ACTION to ACT OUT the difference between lower-case letter “g” and lower-case letter “q.”  Complete kinesthetic acting out of phonics chunks here >>

orientation letter "g" and "q"
This hand drawing is an anchor reference to remind students of the difference between lower-case “g” and lower-case “q.”

The following words are VERY DIFFICULT for some students to learn.

I created a song, a simple reference, and silly points of discussion to try and help them remember these words for reading.  Available for students to reference to, (because these words are confusing), they constantly reference to this post when they come to a word they are unsure about.

Video follows, and take away that if your learner has a hard time with these words which seem simple to you, it is not abnormal.  Keep practicing!


*Unfinished blog post!!!!

I am not publicizing my blog yet.  It is very much under construction.  This post in particular is very incomplete, but life goes on and it will be a while before I can complete it, and yet there is VALUE in what I have shared so far, so I am publishing anyway, and will come back and revise and complete as soon as I can.  Thank you for visiting.

Hug your kiddos, and happy reading,

Ms. SD




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