Are You Using Upper Case Letters Properly?

There are 4 main rules for using upper case letters:

  1.  the word ‘I’
  2.  the first letter of the first word of a sentence
  3.  the first letter of all proper nouns  (the specific name of a person, place or thing)
  4.  the first letter of the key words in a title

Any letters, other than these, should always be printed in lower case.

Yet, as I look through educational catalogs, books, apps and various Pinterest sites, I’m ever so disappointed  with the number of excellent materials that are published with the incorrect usage of upper case letters.    Here are some examples:

These are all pictures of common nouns, not proper nouns – children should be identifying the lower case letter.

Most of these will form a common noun and should  begin with a lower case letter.

Children need to learn these words in lower case as that is what they will see in books.

All  these activities are incorrect according to the rules of capitalization.  As educators, we have an obligation to present accurate information to our students.  Especially for our at-risk students, these activities using upper case create confusion when it comes time to switch to lower case.  The process of unlearn (upper case)/relearn (lower case)  is very difficult for children and usually sets them up for failure.  In a previous post ( I’ve detailed the many problems associated with introducing upper case letters first.

There are lots of great ideas out there to help with teaching letters and sounds, especially on Pinterest.  If you come across a good one using upper case, take the idea and adapt it by using lower case instead.  I’d encourage you to send off a quick note to the creator, something along the lines of:

“Thanks for sharing this great idea!  I’d love to see it done in lower case letters – the skills children most need to become successful readers and writers.  Here’s a great post explaining why we should use lower case:”