Those Pesky Hang-down Letters! How to make them hang down.

I know you have all seen this in your students’ work:          mY      helP      PuPPY

Young children will typically put their ‘hang-down’ letters up inside the line.   Because most young children have been introduced to upper case letters first, they have a mindset that all the letters fit between the lines and they apply that rule to the lower case as well.  (More evidence for my argument that we need to introduce lower case first!)    This is a difficult habit to break!

I’ve developed Logical Letter Formations, an order of presentation of letters that significantly reduces these types of errors as well as most letter reversals.   For the ‘hang-down’ letters (g, j, p, q, y) you need to teach an antecedent letter first so the children have a base to work from.

The letters ‘g’ and ‘q’ are part of the ‘cookie letters’ set, all of which are formed from ‘c’.   Once children learn ‘c’ and know where it sits on the GOAT2line, it is simple to extend this to ‘g’ and ‘q’ with the instruction, “start like a cookie”.   For ‘g’  (g is a goat), we start like a cookie, around for his head,queen2  up and down under his chin.   For ‘q’  (q is a queen)  we start like a cookie, around for her head, up, down and her hair curls up her back.

The letter ‘j’ (j jumps)  is taught as one of the ‘down’ letters.  We first teach ‘i’ (Itchy) as ‘down with a dot’ and when they know where Itchy sits, it is easy to extend the line down with her legs curling up her back (our legs don’t bend forward).

The letter ‘y’ (y yawns) is taught in the ‘slant’ letter set.  We teach ‘v’ (v is a vase) as ‘down, up’ and, again, once they know where ‘v’ sits, theyyawn2 immediately learn ‘y’ as ‘down, up, down.   Most people teach ‘y’ as a 2-part letter where you lift the pencil to make the second line.  It is very easy to reverse ‘y’ doing it in this way – children tend to make the long line first.  If you make it as a continuous stroke letter (down, up, down) formed from ‘v’ they cannot reverse it and it will sit correctly on the line.

The letter ‘p’ (p is a pig puppet) does not have an antecedent letter to help remember it.  I teach it as the last letter  in the set of ‘down, back pig newup and around’ letters.  I have a cute little pig puppet that I use to model the correct line placement for ‘p’.  I show the children that when we play puppets, only the head of the puppet shows above the stage and the arm hangs down.  I also show that that we need the arm first to put the puppets head on.  If we take the printing line as the stage, the arm hangs down under the line, then back up to put on the head.

Give these tricks a try.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly those ‘hang-down’ letters will hang down!

For a full explanation of our Logical Letter Formations, please click on this link: