bs and ds

Picture showing children's hands together forming b and d with a bed drawn in between them to emphasise the sounds.

This month’s blog features resources. One of the stimulating things about tutoring children one to one is that we have time to address individual problems and try to find solutions. Aaron * who I mentioned in September’s blog has made great progress with his letter/sound knowledge but he has a block when it comes to bs and ds. He can now form both letters correctly, we have done lots of writing in sand, pressing wooden letters into play dough and other multi-sensory activities. The problem lies with remembering which is which.  I have been researching techniques to help children with this very common difficulty. A Google search came up with lots of practical ideas which I have been using regularly. Here is one of my favourites thanks to Laura at


I reinforce this by getting Aaron to make the b and d with his hands raising each one in turn saying /b/ or /d/ all the way to and from the Springboard room.

Thanks to for this idea. Aaron enjoysPicture showing a dice with b and d on it and paper for a child to record their scores. the competition between the two letters in this activity. A dice is covered with b and d stickers. The child throws the dice then writes the matching letter on the grid. I added red dots to reinforce where to start writing each letter i.e. at the top for the b and the middle for the d.

I visited for more information. It is vital to use all the senses to reinforce the letter shapes.  The child should make the gross motor movement for each letter with big sweeping movements using the whole arm and shoulder. This should also be done with the eyes closed. I have found that once a child can write a word or a letter with their eyes closed it has lodged itself firmly in their memory. Aaron is still not consistently recognising or writing b/d correctly despite twice-weekly practise so I am continuing to look for a method which will work with him.

I have just discovered a new idea at which focuses on getting the child to associate the shape that the mouth makes with the shape of the letter on the page. A mirror is used to show the child that when he makes the /b/ sound his lips make a straight line like the line that comes first in the letter b. The mouth makes a circle shape to make the /d/ sound like the circle that comes first in the letter d. I will try this with Aaron and also Cameron* who though now in Year 2 is still occasionally confusing b/d when reading.

While doing my shopping in Asda last weekend I found a resource to make letter and word writing practise and assessment more fun- Crayola Colour Explosion. Children write on blank black sheets then the writing slowly appears. This is good for reinforcing motor memory as the letter does not immediately appear when the child presses on the sheet.  I cut the black sheets into strips to help with sizing and also to conserve the paper. My students loved the magical element of this and didn’t want to stop writing!Picture showing child writing a lins of b's which are appearing multi-coloured on a black strip.

That’s all for this month. In the next few weeks we will be doing our end of term assessments so I’m looking forward to the next blog when I will be sharing the good news about how much our students have progressed since September.

*children’s names have been changed


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