Letter D Sound


The letter D is another important letter for students to learn, but can be tricky with pronunciation, as it can be mistaken for the letter /b/ with young learners. It is also hard because of the position of the tongue in the mouth. In case you need more help with this letter d sound, get some phonics books to help your child.

Be sure to repeat and revise this letter with the students so they fully understand the letter d sound, and don’t get mixed up!

Letter D Phonics Pronunciation

The sound for the letter /d/ is taught with the action of hitting a drum, and saying the d-d-d sound. You can also say d-d-d drum for better students to repeat.The /d/ and /t/ sound are similar in nature, and both are considered stop sounds. They both are created with the tip of the tongue at the space on the top of your mouth just behind your front teeth, and releasing air with your tongue. The difference between these sounds is that the /d/ sound is voiced, and the /t/ is voiceless. This means that your vocal cords will vibrate when you make the /d/ sound.Young children will normally begin saying the /d/ sound at a early age, maybe even being able to say doo-doo, dee-dee, or daddy. 

Begin by slowly saying the /d/ sound for the student to copy and fully understand how the sound is made. You can over exaggerate the sound when saying d-d-d for them to better copy the sound. After they got the sound down well, you can add vowel variations to the /d/ with sounds as in da, da, da, dee,dee,dee, do,do,do, doo,doo,doo. For students having a hard time learning the sound, many still find it fun to pretend to hit a drum and say d,d,d.

Watch more about the letter d sound here

Visual hints

Young students may have a hard time with saying the /d/ sound, and may mistake this with the /b/ or /t/ sound. Be sure to practice this sound a lot for their full understanding. You can try to help the students imagine the “stop” sound, by using your thumb and pointer finger next to your mouth as if you were to pinch something. When you make the /d/ sound, have your fingers touch as your tongue touches the top of your mouth with the d-d-d sound. 

As the /d/ sound is similar to the /t/ sound, students may be unable to say it if they cannot locate the place to put their tongue or do not have strong enough tongue muscles. You can use food to help them understand this. Put a little bit of peanut butter on the ridge behind their teeth, and ask them to touch it with their tongue. This will teach them the right spot for their tongue to make the /d/ sound. You can also increase their tongue muscles by having them hold their tongue on that spot for 5 seconds and release. Do this over and over to train their tongue, and encourage them through the process.

Handwriting Help with letter /D/

As with the letter /d/, some students may struggle when writing both the /d/ and /b/ letters. Many parents may also have difficulties in trying to teach their children the differences in these, and how to write them. Be sure to focus on the differences so your students don’t get confused.

The main difference of the /d/ and /b/ letter starts with the stroke order, and how to start each letter. When teaching the /d/ letter, be sure to start with the letter /c/ shape first, and then continue the letter up and straight down to complete the /d/. Do not start with the stick shape first, as it will confuse the student, and hurt their writing skills. Also for their muscles in their hand, it will be more natural to start with the /c/ letters, and they will be able to write the letter faster and faster after practice. If the children are still struggling with this letter, you can take some time and go back to re-learn the /c/ shape, and the move onto the /d/ shape.

Another way to help them remember to write the /c/ shape first, is to recite the alphabet saying, a-b-c-d, and emphasize that c is right before d. They will then keep this c in mind, and write it first when practicing the /d/ letter. You can also checkout some ABC books to help with this.

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 right hand resembles the // 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

When first learning the /d/ sound, you should pretend to beat a drum and say d-d-d. You can continue this activity, and have the students hitting a drum and saying the d-d-d. You can alternate the beat to go faster or slower, and really have some fun with this sound. 

Another idea can be to introduce the word “dance”, and practice your dance moves while saying “Do the ‘d’ dance, do the ‘d’ dance!”. You can dance around with the students while saying this, and find objects that start with the letter d, such as dog, dad, drum, and change the dance to “Do the ‘dog’ dance!”. Students usually enjoy these two activities, and get a chance to practice the /d/ sound. 

Letter /d/ Blending

The letter /d/ can be a useful letter for students in phonics and blending words, as many words using this letter. It also allows students to incorporate a hard stop sound into their blending, which can be difficult for young kids at first. After the students can pronounce the /d/ sound well, move them up with vowels in blending.

Begin with easy vowel sounds with /d/ such as da,da,da, dee,dee,dee, do,do,do, doo,doo,doo. After the students can say these sounds well, you can move onto the basic three letter words of CVC as with d-o-g, d-a-d, d-i-g. As many words start and end with the letter /d/, you will have a long list of words that the students can blend from.

As with the other hard stop sounds, it is important to use not only words that start with the letter /d/, but also words that end with /d/ as in d-a-d, b-a-d, h-i-d, etc. The reason for including these words as well as many students can blend words starting with /d/ well, but may have trouble stopping a word with /d/ in the end. When you blend with the student, but sure to emphasize on the ending /d/ sound, and abruptly stop the word when saying the /d/. Also, be sure not to say the sound “duh” when blending the words, as students often make this mistake as well. Otherwise, your words will end us sound like dad-uh, and bid-uh.

Checkout our Top 25 phonics books for reading letters

Everyday English

Once the student can say the /d/ word well and blend words accurately, you can introduce them to everyday words to improve their vocabulary. However remember to keep practicing their /d/ sound and easy blending for them to completely memorize this sound and writing, in order for them to say it independently. 

Here are some everyday English words for your students to practice while out and about!

There are many animals that start with the letter /d/ to learn, such as dog, duck and dolphin. You can even incorporate fun activities to help them remember the animals.

A lot of boys and girls names start with the letter /d/, such as David, Dan, Daniel, Daisy, Diana, Dee Dee. It’s good for students to learn many names so they can play with others.

Everyday objects can be found with the letter /d/ that students see, such as desk, doll, drum and dish. After all, they will be studying at a desk throughout school, so its good to know this word!

Letter /d/ sentence reading

After learning how to say and blend words with the letter /d/, 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 bad dog

Dan the dog

Dan likes dots.

I see a duck

I see a doll

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 /d/ !

Letter d tongue twisters

The letter /d/ can be very fun to say with tongue twisters, and sound like a fast beating drum! Prepare yourself to say these /d/ tongue twisters fast!

Did Doug dig dad’s garden or did dad dig Doug’s garden?

Double bubble gum, bubbles double.

A dozen dim ding-dongs.

A dozen dim ding-dongs.

A dozen dim ding-dongs.

The duke dropped the dirty double damask dinner napkin.

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