Reduce Confusion for Beginning Readers with These Cool Tricks

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?  In this blog post I will share proven ways to reduce confusion for beginning readers.  These methods are effective with dyslexic students as well.

Even the most severe  and true dyslexic can learn how to distinguish those confusing letters, and after learning these TRICKS, practice is key.  It is possible to reduce confusion for beginning readers!

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.

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:

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.  Proper understanding of letter formation is critical to reduce confusion for beginning readers.

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

20180525_094654 reduce confusion for beginning readers, with this chart

Above:  I teach, as we read from left to right (and I motion or demonstrate with my hand)…. “When we come from the left, what do we come to first, the BAT before the ball, or the curve of the letter C ?”  That is what I refer to over and over to help my students distinguish the difference between “b” and “d.”

20180525_095000 note from white board
20180525_095012 reduce confusion for beginning readers with this pic of teacher notes

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.

20180525_094649 reduce confusion for beginning readers with this note

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.”

20180525_102346 reduce confusion for beginning readers for 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"  reduce confusion for beginning readers
This hand drawing is an anchor reference to remind students of the difference between lower-case “g” and lower-case “q.”

If special intervention is needed, then I supervise and cheer them on in doing EXTRA PRACTICE forming these letters correctly.  Practice is often with them hearing me SPEAK THE FORMATION INSTRUCTIONS.  Writing the letters PROPERLY in the AIR using BIG MUSCLE movements of arm and hand, is useful.  On the WALL, with finger or chalk is great, and the SIZE can be varied is a great way to practice.  Writing on different textures or in different textures is recommended.  Using a variety of writing tools can add to the motivation and brain impression.

Different texture practice may be, in pan of salt with finger, on sand-paper, in a pan of sand or at the beach with finger or stick.  Also paper and crayon over tree-bark can be the different texture!  Possibilities are vast.



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 on the wall when they come to a word they are unsure about.

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

Practice of “tricks” presented here, WILL help reduce confusion for beginning readers!

20180525_094643 visual for song that reduces confusion for beginning readers on these tricky words

*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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