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How to Correct Letter Reversals: 11 Tips for Teachers

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 4 min read

If you’re teaching in an elementary school, it’s not unusual to have at least a few students who reverse (or confuse) letters and numbers during reading, writing, and math activities.

Sometimes that’s a sign they could use additional support (more on that side of the mirror writing coin here), but as educators, we know it is a common developmental hurdle to deal with in the classroom, and with repetition and exposure, most children can settle their letter confusion.

So how do you correct letter reversals … gently but also effectively? We put together some tips for correcting letter reversals with your students !


How to Correct Letter Reversals

Mouth Formation Trick

Letters that are often confused or reversed by young kids are ‘b’ and ‘d’ and ‘m’ and ‘w’. One way to help students understand the difference is the mouth formation trick.

In this strategy, students are taught that when they make the /b/ sound, the crease between the upper and lower lip is straight, just like the line that starts the letter ‘b’ when writing it. When making a /d/ sound, the tongue is curled just like the curl that starts the letter ‘d’ when writing it.

Letter formation trick for kids

Abo Photography / Shutterstock.com

You can also use this strategy for the letters m and w. When you make the /m/ sound, your lips are closed just like the top of the letter m. When you make the /w/ sound, your mouth is open just like the top of the letter w.

Use Visual Cues

Using visuals in the classroom is another excellent way to develop your students’ understanding of these letter formations.

With the reversal of letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ being the most common, I love this little trick! If you put both thumbs up and touch your knuckles together, it creates an instant visual cue showing how the letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ are written. It also kind of looks like a bed, which is another great visual!

Our B and D Letter Confusion Poster is a great visual reminder of this trick that you can hang on your classroom wall.

b and d letter confusion

Letter Reversal Worksheets and Activities

After visual cues, repetition is the next step in helping students with their letter reversals. We have a number of worksheets and activity ideas that you can use.

First up is our set of 10 Letter Confusion Worksheets. The worksheet below simply asks students to circle a specific letter in each line.

Letters available include b and d, p and q, n and m, i and j, f and t.

Letter confusion worksheets for the classroom

We have added another element of fun to this next worksheet by including a die and turning it into a game. Grab some dot stickers, and choose the two letters you want your students to focus on. I have used the most common, ‘b’ and ‘d’. This would be a fantastic game played in pairs.

Here’s how to play:

  1. Each student has a different colored crayon or marker.
  2. They take turns rolling the die and coloring one of the stars that have the matching letter.
  3. The student with the most stars in their color wins. Alternatively, the first student to get three stars in their color in a row wins.

Letter confusion activity for kids

Our Uppercase and Lowercase Letter Maze worksheets are another great way to get your students to focus on letter formation!

These engaging mazes allow students to follow the path of lowercase and uppercase letters from start to finish. It is available for every letter of the alphabet to differentiate what letters your students need extra assistance with.


Use multi-Sensory Materials

Using multi-sensory materials is a great hands-on approach to get your students engaging with the formation of letters and correcting letter reversals. For more great sensory tray activities for letter formation practice, check out our blog – Fun Letter Formation Activities for Kids.

This activity is probably one of the cheapest and easiest activities, but it’s perhaps the messiest! All you need is a can of shaving cream and a desk or tray to spray it on!

Some students may struggle to differentiate the letters when they are side by side. Mix up letters that they are getting correct with letters they need extra assistance with!

Using craft sand in a tray is also a great sensory activity. Students need to form letters to reveal a colorful background.


Create Your Own Handwriting Sheets

Using our handwriting widget, create a worksheet that focuses just on the letters your students may be struggling with! Again, keep an eye on these students and assess if this is too confusing for them. In that case, mix up letters that they are comfortable with and those where you often need to correct letter reversal so they can get extra practice.

Create your own handwriting sheets for the classroom.


Play Tic-Tac-Toe

We have one last game to finish off the list of ideas for correcting letter reversal issues. In pairs, give students a particular letter. In this example, I have used ‘b’ and ‘d’.

Students play just like tic-tac-toe but using their letters instead of x and o! It’s is a great activity to pull out when you only have five minutes left!

Do you have any hints and tips for letter reversals or letter confusion? We would love to hear them in the comments below.

 

Banner image via shutterstock/diignat

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