Letter B Sound


The letter B being the second letter of the alphabet is also important for students learning English, and for their understanding of writing letter and phonics sounds. This is also one of the first sounds which is made with the lips, such as /p/. Many sounds use the letter b sound in everyday words, and is useful for students when learning the English alphabet.

Phonics Pronunciation

The letter /b/ sound is usually taught as trying to hit a ball, and saying the b-b-b sound. You can make an action as hitting a ball with a bat while saying the sound. This sound is made with both of your lips pressed together when making the sound. As it is a voiced sound, your vocal cords will vibrate when you make the sound and release air from your lips. Make sure your students are saying the /b/ sound correctly, and not the /p/ sound when blending.

The letter /b/ sound is usually taught early on as it is one of the first sounds young babies and infants can make, such as the sounds ba-ba or ball, as early as 2 years old. Try to repeat the /b/ sound clearly and have the student repeat it back to you. You can add vowels to the /b/ sound after they can repeat it, as in ba-ba-ba, bo,bo,bo and boo,boo,boo. You can even use animals and animal sounds to reinforce this, such as showing a picture of a bee, or saying the sheep sound as in “baaaaaaa”.

As this letter is very important sound for the children’s speech and English pronunciation, it is suggest to spend more time on this sound if your student is having difficulties saying the /b/ sound.

Visual hints

For the letter /b/ sound, focus the attention on your lips pressing together to make the sound. You can help show your students by putting your finger on your bottom lip just before making the sound, and moving it away slights as you make the /b/ sound. You may also use your hand to act as your mouth, and move two fingers together so show the lips pressing together to make the /b/ sound.

Also when you make the /b/ sound, a puff of air will be released from your mouth when making the sound. You can hold the student’s hand in front of your lips so they can feel the air being released when making the sound. They can practice this too to feel the air coming from their mouth when making the sound. Otherwise, have a mirror to show the students how they are making the sound, and any differences there might be.

The /b/ sound is a short sound that stops when the lips are together, and is different from other sounds that may continue on such as the letter /s/ or /m/. Because of this, you can emphasize this sound stop with actions as well. You can use an action by tapping your hand on the table or leg with each repeating /b/ sound. This short action will make a connection between the short sharp action and the short /b/ sound.

ABC Sound Books

Here are some ABC books to help with learning the alphabet:

ABC (Letterland Picture Books) on Amazon

Letter b sound, Letter B Sound

My First ABC on Amazon

Letter b sound, Letter B Sound

A is for Apple (Smart Kids Trace-And-Flip) on Amazon

Letter b sound, Letter B Sound

Handwriting Help with letter /B/

As in the case of the letter /b/, many students will get confused when writing and identify the letters /d/ & /b/. Also many parents and even teachers can struggle to help their children and students when learning this sound, and having them write it correctly. If you need help, checkout these useful phonics books for your children.

The difference in writing with the /b/ and /d/ letters starts with the stroke order, and teaching it should work on this fact. When teaching the /b/ letter writing, have the students start again with the straight line or stick shape, and then continue up to form the /c/ shape. You can repeat this step by having the student start with the stick first, and continuing to go right to make the /b/ letter. We recommend not to start with the /c/ first, as it will confuse students on how to write the /b/ or /d/ sound, as will naturally want to continue the /c/ shape and make the letter d.

You can also try making shapes with your hand to help with the /b/ and /d/ sound. Make two fists with your hands with the inside wrists facing you, and put your thumbs up. You should see that your left hand resembles the /b/ shape, and your right hand resembles the /d/ shape. You can use this technique to help students remember /b/ and /d/ (left hand is the letter /b/ as /b/ comes first in the alphabet). This may help them with remembering the letter shapes.

Activity hints

You can have fun with the /b/ sound and pretend with the student to be sheep and say the “baaaaa” sound. Don’t be too shy when pretending to be sheep when you are studying the /b/ sound. You can even extend the “baaa” sound into the song for some students, as in “baa baa black sheep”. Just be sure that the students are saying the /b/ sound correctly and not just pretending to be a sheep!

Here are some other activites for the letter b

Letter /b/ Blending

The letter /b/ is an important start for students when learning the phonics, blending and the alphabet as well. As this letter is naturally formed with babies and young infants, it will serve as a good start for students when learning phonics and blending.

After you repeat the sound and the student can remember it well, you can extend this with the basic /b/ sound and vowels, such as in the ba,ba,ba, bee,bee,bee, bo,bo,bo or boo,boo,boo. After the students can repeat these sounds well, they can move onto the three letter CVC words, such as bat, bus, bug. The letter /b/ is used in many basic words in English, so be sure to use everyday words to help your student when learning this letter.

Once the student can pronounce and remember the letter /b/ sound well, you should use words that use both the letter /b/ at the start and at the end as well. This is because the letter /b/ at the start will be more voices, whereas in the end it will be more to stop a sound. Therefore, its equally important to introduce blending and words that use the /b/ as at the end, such as in the words cab, web, bug, etc.

Checkout our Top 25 phonics books for reading letters

Everyday English

After the student can repeat and blend the letter /b/ sound well, you can reinforce their understanding with many /b/ words in everyday English. This will not only improve their /b/ blending skills, but also increase their English vocabulary and oral skills when speaking. Encourage your students with some of the words with the letter /b/ as below.

In English many of the colors use the letter /b/ as in the colors blue, black and brown. You can show them the colors as well or point them out when walking about!

Many animals also use the letter /b/, as in bat, bear, bird. You can also introduce words for people to the students, as in baby and boy.

Foods also use the letter /b/, and you can say the words when eating food as in banana, burger, butter. 

Letter /b/ sentence reading

After learning how to say and blend words with the letter /b/, it’s good to introduce basic sentences to the children to read. These sentences are meant to be basic for students learning the alphabet letters and phonics as their second language.

Here are some short sentences you can read together with the students.

A big bus.

The bag is big.

A bat and ball.

Bob is bad.

Bob is a boy.

It’s important your students practice reading short sentences, so they gain the confidence and can practice their blending skills. Therefore, encourage your students to read these sentences to improve their phonics and blending with the letter /b/ !

Letter B tongue twisters

The letter /b/ can be really fun to say when introducing tongue twisters to students. Get your lips ready when saying these funny /b/ sentences!

-A big blue bucket of blue blueberries

-The boy blinked at the blank bank blackboard.

-I have a black-backed bath brush. Do you have a black-backed bath brush?

-Bright bloom the blossoms on the brook’s bare brown banks.

-The best breath test tests breath better.

-Bad black bran bread. Bad black bran bread. Bad black bran bread.

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