Letter Recognition: Confusable Letter Pairs
Students use the fun interactive storybook, Clifford's Big Dig, to explore phonics.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
- Unit Plan:
This lesson provides practice distinguishing between pairs of similar-looking lowercase letters, such as b and d, p and b, m and w, n and m.
- Learn to distinguish between easily-confused letter pairs by reading and listening to a story that highlights select words
- Construct a story by actively choosing words
- Use picture clues to aid comprehension
- Match words that start with the same letter
- Clifford Phonics Fun Activities
- Chalkboard or similar display
- Clifford Interactive Storybook Clifford's Big Dig
- Clifford Storybook activity Letter Match
- Computer(s) with Internet access
- Optional: LCD or overhead projector to display storybook activities
- Optional: headphones
Set Up and Prepare
- Bookmark the Interactive Clifford Storybooks on the computers students will use.
- NOTE: If students have limited access to computers, print activity screens and make transparency copies to post on an overhead projector.
Step 1: Introduce the lesson by reviewing one of the most visually confusing letter pairs: b/d. Write the word "bed" on the chalkboard and point out that the word visually resembles a bed. Show students that the word begins with the letter b and ends with the letter d and that the letter b comes before the letter d in the alphabet and in the word "bed."
Step 2: Brainstorm a list of words that begin with b and a list of words that begin with d. Write them on the chalkboard, underlining the letters b and d in each word. Point out the difference in how the two letters look.
Step 3: Take students to the first page of Clifford's Big Dig. and read the first two sentences. Model how to click the speaker icon next to the sentences to hear them read aloud.
Step 4: Point to the letter d in "digging" in the first sentence and say the word aloud. Have students identify what letter it begins with. Now point to the letter b in the word "big" in the second sentence and say the word aloud. Again, have students identify the letter. Have a volunteer explain the difference between how a lower case b and d look.
Step 5: Click the speaker icon next to the third sentence. After listening to the narrator read, tell students that they are to choose one of the three words in the circles to put into the story. Read the choices aloud. Ask students what letter each of the choices begins with. Then have them select one of the three choices to complete the second sentence.
Step 1: Working in pairs, have students read the story Clifford's Big Dig from the beginning. Have them click the speaker icons to hear the words read aloud.
Step 2: Instruct students to click a word to complete the third sentence on each page. Tell them to look at the first letter of the words they are choosing between. Point out that on some pages the three words begin with the same letter, and on other pages, the words begin with letters that look alike but are different. Instruct pairs to identify the letters that each word begins with and to correct each other if they identify the wrong letter. Can they identify the differences between similar looking letters? (Sample answer: b has a line going up; p has a line pointing down.)
Step 3: When pairs finish the story, help them link to the game Letter Match. Students can click the speaker icon to hear the instructions. Then have them click on each word to hear it read aloud. What sound does each one begin with? What letter does each word begin with? Students should drag the words into the correct boxes. (If necessary, model how to click and drag words into the boxes.)
Step 4: As they play the game, encourage students to identify what letters the words begin with.
Supporting All Learners
While students enjoy Clifford Interactive Storybooks, they will be participating in activities that correlate with many of the national standards for reading and language arts.
Relevant standards for reading instruction as set forth by the National Council of Teachers of English include:
Students demonstrate competence in general skills and strategies of the reading process. Students:
- Understand that print conveys meaning
- Use picture clues to aid comprehension
- Decode unknown words using basic elements of phonetic analysis
- Read aloud familiar stories
Listed below are the specific phonics skills covered in each of Clifford's stories.
- Where Is Emily? - initial consonants
- Clifford's Big Dig - confusable letter pairs
- Here, Clifford! - short vowels
- Emily Elizabeth Goes to School - long vowels
- Make a set of lowercase letter cards for confusable letter pairs, including b, p, d, q, j, i. Write one letter on each card and make two cards for each letter. Place the cards facedown. Have students turn over two cards at a time. If the cards match, students keep them. If not, they turn them back down. The object is to successfully make as many matches as they can.
- Distribute letter cards, one per student. Then write a letter on the chalkboard. Ask the students whose cards match the letter to step to the front of the classroom. Have a volunteer name the letter and the sound it makes.
- Write pairs of words on the chalkboard that begin with easily confusable letters, such as bat and pat; bug and dug; pot and dot. Read the words aloud. Ask students to identify the letter that is different in each word.
Away from the computer, read a list of the words you've worked with in the storybook and activity.
- Without visual clues, can students distinguish the letters that each word begins with?
- Can they write the letter correctly?
- Can they name other words that begin with that letter and sound?
To further assess letter recognition knowledge:
- Write the letters reviewed (both uppercase and lowercase) in random order on a sheet of paper.
- Make a copy of the sheet for you to record each student's errors. Have the student read the letters as quickly as possible. Mark errors on your copy of the letter sheet.
- Time the student's reading. Provide additional instruction on those letters the student struggles with, particularly confusable letter pairs.
- Note if students read at a slow, labored pace. Provide additional instruction and practice until the student is able to read the letter automatically.