It is important for children to learn not only the letter names, but how to recognize their physical appearance. When letter recognition is solidified, children can identify letters in various contexts, including books, their name, and environmental print such as signs.
When teaching the letter “b,” keep in mind that it can be easily mistaken for the letter “d.” It’s beneficial not to teach the two letters at the same time, given their similar appearance. It may be helpful to represent the letter “b” with a bat for the stick and a baseball for the circle. Once children learn the sound that “b” makes, they can reference this visual to help them remember how to distinguish a “b” from a “d.”
Immersing children in activities that provide them with opportunities to work with letters will encourage their letter recognition. Letter tiles, magnetic letters, playdough, flashcards, and games can be used to help children identify letters. Also, consider using alphabet posters that children can refer to.
To help children learn how to properly print letters, consider teaching them verbal pathways to recite while writing. For the lowercase “b,” teach children the phrase, “Pull down, up, around.” For the uppercase “B,” use the phrase, “Pull down, up, around and in, back and around.” Recite these phrases while slowly modeling how to print the letters. Provide children with opportunities to trace letters first, repeating the verbal pathways. Once they become proficient with tracing, they can practice printing the letters independently.
In addition to using a pencil and paper, children can practice forming letters using materials such as salt or sand trays, fingerpaints, juggling scarves, whiteboards, and chalkboards. Learning to form letters properly will allow children to print efficiently and with automaticity, leaving them to focus their energy on the content of their writing.
To teach children the sounds that letters make, have them relate letters to words that begin with the sound. For example, to teach the sound a “b” makes, children can use words like “book,” “ball,” and “bed.” Children can fill a block letter “b” with pictures of these objects then use it for reference. You may also wish to have them create their own alphabet books, completing a new page each time a new letter is learned. The letter “b” page could include both the uppercase and lowercase letters, along with pictures of familiar words that begin with “b.”
Letter sounds can be practiced using matching activities. (e.g., Match the letter “b” to the picture of the bug.) Children can also color pictures that start with the sound. (e.g., Color the bird. Do not color the cat.)