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Trouble with b's and d's


Junior Member
I have several students who get b's and d's mixed up. They write b's when it should be a d and write a d when it should be a b. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to teach the difference?


Full Member
I tell mine to "Make their bed"

If they hold both hands in front of them and touch thumb to all fingers except index, it makes a "b" and a "d" they can imagine an "e" between them and they have their "bed" I have even dran illustrations on the board. Write the word "bed" draw a line over the e and the humps of the b and d connecting the sticks (does that make since?) It looks like a poster bed - sorta. haha Sometimes I draw a little stick figure on the bed and hang it up for a while for them to remember.

Good luck!:s)


I made posters

See if you can visualize this...I made posters of a bat and a ball making a b the bat is the back of the b and the ball is the circle part...and I made a d with a drum and a drum stick...and I also made a p with a pin and a pincusion....my kids refer to them all the time....and we usually don't see those reversals very often


New Member
I use the "bed" strategy too. You can also have them learn to put a "b" and a "d" at the top of the page and a "p" and a q" aat the bottom, in each corner in the sequence of the alpahbet-b in left and d in right, p in bottom left and q in bottom right. I also have the students check the ABC 's on the wall to make sure it is going in the right direction.

??? keep trying till something works.... :)


Junior Member
Thanks for the help with the b's & d's

Thanks for the helpful suggestions, I look forward to using them when we go back to school on Monday.


one more thing..

great tips...one more thing to remember is, if you teach one at a time, ........spend the time to get b solid, then once the automaticity is there, move on to d.



Make a fist - thumbs up - like in the "bed" example, but separate your fists. Then think of two b/d words that go together to form a two-word phrase. EX: bad dog; big daddy; etc.

If the fists are turned upside down, you will form p/q. A phrase could also be taught to remind students how those are made.
EX: pretty quick

One reason I prefer this reminder instead of "bed" is that many students don't clearly articulate the ending sound in bed, therefore missing the purpose.


SpEd Teacher (mild MR, LD, and autism)

I also use "The ABCD trick" with my LD's. Make the "OK" sign (index finger and thumb together) with both hands. Your hands now form the b and d in alphabetical order. I teach my kids to say "a-b-c-d!" and show them how the b comes first, left-to-right, on their hands. it works and it's always right there with them (no dependence on a poster, etc....)

: )


Thank you

What a brilliant idea. I am dyslexic and my son is showing signs. He gets very angry when he makes a mistake. I am going to try this tonight. Thank you!!!


4th grade

I like the OK sign and ABCD trick. My daughter is going into the 4th grade this year. Since 1st grade she as had a problem with her b and d until the OK sign. I hope she does better in school this year.


b and d explanation

My mother used to drone on about bat and ball and drum and drumstick when i was a child. However it just made me frustrated because i knew those words started with those letters but it didn't help me know how to draw them.
I was well grown up before i realised what it was all about!
So if you are planning on doing that make sure you clearly explain that it is about the order those things are drawn to create the letter.
I really wish i had understood it sooner and this trick works, i still use it now at 40yrs otherwise I can still mix them up.
I taught it to my 7yr son and am now doing the same with 4yr daughter.


Spelling test trick

I've tried some different things in the past, like displaying the "bed" poster or coming up with other visual aids, but I found that most didn't really work for my 2nd graders. My suggestion is not a lesson so much as a simple reference I have them place on top of their spelling tests. I just have any kids who mix these letters up write "abcd" on the top of their spelling test, though you could do this for classwork or writing assignments too. Every student I've reminded about this will get in the habit of writing "abcd" somewhere on the top of their page and whenever the student needs a reminder they refer back to the top of their page. It's so easy and it always works - no fancy songs, mnemonics, or visuals needed - just the basic knowledge of their alphabet!

I've found it to be very helpful in assisting those kids who struggle, most of whom will grow out of this on their own unless there is an underlying concern. I think it was a parent who suggested this to one of my students a few years ago. It worked for her and for every other kid I've used it with so far, so I'm glad I stole the idea!