slice of life · writing

B and b

The original letters in question (laying on her craft table after our "minilesson.")
The original letters in question (laying on her craft table after our “minilesson.”)

Why do “Mommy, look!” Isabelle ran towards me with a paper in her hand. “I drew a picture for you.”

It’s not a picture, I thought, it’s just some letters.

“What did you write?” I asked, reframing what was on the paper.

“I wrote b’s,” she beamed.

“Are you sure you wrote two b’s?” I asked.

“Yes. I write uppercase B and lowercase b,” she declared.

“You did write an uppercase B, but this is not a lowercase b.” I pointed at the letter in question. “That’s a lowercase p.”

“Are you sure?” she asked.

There were a million different ways I wanted to answer that question, but she wouldn’t find the humor in any of them so I went for the high road. “Yes, I’m sure. Let me show you what a lowercase b looks like.”

At that moment, I figured Isabelle would run away.  [We’ve been having a rough time with compliance (her’s, not mine) since I returned from my week away at the Highlights Foundation.]  But she didn’t. She followed me to her craft table where I grabbed a marker and showed her — on the same sheet of paper — what an uppercase B and lowercase b looked like.

“I have something I’ve been keeping on the mantle that can help you tell the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters.  Want to see it.”

She surprised me — again — when she said, “Yes!”

I found Isabelle checking the AaBbCc chart after our "minilesson."
I found Isabelle checking the AaBbCc chart after our “minilesson.”

I retrieved the framed Kit Chase ABC print I framed and stuck up on the mantle in her playroom for someday.  Today was that day and, by golly, I was tickled pink.  We went through the entire alphabet, noting the uppercase and lowercase letters that were the same and the ones that were different.  I thought she had it by the time we arrived at Zz.  But I wanted to link it to what she was doing at her craft table.  So, in typical writing teacher fashion, I said, “So today and any day you’re trying to write a lowercase letter, you can look at this chart if you’re not sure what it should look like.  This chart will remind you of what each lowercase letter looks like. I’ll leave it on your craft table so you can check it when you’re unsure of what a lowercase letter should look like.”

She’s a long way away from writing lowercase letters independently since she’s still trying to master writing uppercase ones. Nonetheless, her curiosity led to me giving her a tool, which I hope will help her as she wants to do some more writing.

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13 thoughts on “B and b

  1. I love how Isabelle asked if you were sure about the lowercase b! From my kindergarten teaching days, I know b’s, d’s, p’s and q’s are commonly reversed. The brain sometimes needs to develop more to be able to note the distinction. Numbers too! It’s great you were able to share a writing tool. I have an alphabet train hanging in our playroom. This summer, I want to add some common names and words and hang them under the appropriate letter to help Alex start making those connections.

    1. I remember having a few fourth graders who reversed their b’s and d’s and their p’s and q’s so I’m not worried about her doing this right now. That said, I loved how she doubted me. It took everything in me not to laugh!

  2. I had to laugh on your Lucy Calkins language to link the learning. Something my Reading Recovery trainer said during our training year really stuck with me about letters that are confusing. Take any item, let’s say a chair, you can turn it any which way and it is still a chair. But take a letter, flip it, it is now another letter. That’s really high level thinking to understand when you can flip something and it changes or it doesn’t change. Isabelle is on the road to discovery.

      1. Thanks for your writing and for your comments. Two things to think about: mnilessons at home and improving the minilessons at school. Thanks for sharing Beth’s entry. I have bookmarked it for later, but now I am enjoying vacation at the beach.

  3. Those alphabet letters are due to be redesigned!
    Seriously, you might try teaching her to form them out of play-do “snakes.”
    I love how you gave her a tool, and caught her using it!

  4. Wow! What a smart cookie Isabella is! And how great that she has her own personal ABC chart. Some kindergarten teacher is going to LOVE her!

  5. I am always amazed at how we as teachers can find a teachable moment and take advantage of it. So many people don’t recognize these moments or don’t know how to make them work to their and their child’s advantage. Isabelle is so lucky to have you. I love her inquisitive mind.

  6. There’s always that moment when the teacher steps in, even if you’re not a teacher by trade. This time it seems that Isabelle was truly interested. It takes time & waiting, but it’ll come again, & you’ll be there. I think it’s fun that she’s using the right terminology, a beginning step there, too.

  7. Oh the dreaded lowercase b. I loath the b and d, who came up with this? And then there is q and p like you mentioned in an earlier comment, equally as annoying. Sounds like Isabelle is well on her way to mastering them all with her handy little chart. 😉

  8. Oh yay! Another mom who lets her teaching voice come through at home. My boys are older and they make fun of me when it slips out now. The best is when I try to use my “teacher eye” on my husband. Ha! Your daughter sounds precious! You captured her voice beautifully with your words.

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