Teaching Students About Lower Case Letters

What are lowercase letters?

Lower case letters are the shorter and smaller versions of upper case letters (also called capital letters). Some lower-case letters look entirely different from their upper-case counterparts, however.

For example, ‘a’ is the lowercase version of ‘A,’ and ‘w’ is the lowercase version of ‘W.’

Here are all the lowercase letters in the English alphabet:

A, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y and z.

How are lowercase letters used?

When we write, most of the letters we use are in lowercase. We capitalize letters for special occasions, like the start of a sentence or for proper nouns.

All common nouns are written in lowercase. Writing common nouns in upper case is a mistake many people make when writing. Even nouns like ‘university’ should begin with a lowercase letter unless you name a specific university.

Here are some examples:

  • This sentence is written in lowercase, except for ‘T,’ to start the sentence.
  • We use lowercase for common nouns like ‘dog,’ ‘cat,’ or ‘chair,’ but uppercase letters for proper nouns like ‘London’ or ‘Mr. Dickens’.

Sometimes, changing a letter from lower to upper case (or vice versa) in a word can completely change its meaning.

For example, with a lowercase letter, ‘polish’ means to rub something until it shines. However, with an upper case letter, ‘Polish’ implies something or someone from Poland!

Another example is ‘apple’ and ‘Apple.’ Lowercase ‘apple’ means the red fruit, but with an upper case ‘A,’ ‘Apple’ refers to the tech company.

As you can see, using lowercase and uppercase letters is very important.

Where did the term ‘lowercase’ come from?

The term ‘lowercase’ has been used since as early as the 1680s! This is because both the words ‘upper case’ and ‘lower case’ come from printing.

Trays called’ cases’ were used when physically printing something using a printing press. These were divided into compartments that held different kinds of blocks with letters on them. The case on the top (the upper case) had capital letters, and the case on the bottom (the lower case) held lowercase letters.

When do children learn to write lowercase letters?

Typically, children learn the upper-case letters of the alphabet before the lower-case ones. This is usually because writing in block capitals is more accessible than writing in lowercase. As a result, many children learn to write by writing their names using only upper case letters.

Once children have mastered pencil grip and pencil control that they’ve learned from writing upper case letters, they’re ready to move on and start writing in lower case.

How to teach lowercase letter formation shapes

Before children begin writing in lowercase, they must be familiar with lowercase letters and their shapes. Here’s how you can introduce children to lowercase letters.

  • Trace letter shapes in the air.

Using a finger to trace lowercase letter shapes in the air is an excellent way of introducing these letter shapes. (Plus, there’s no printing involved!).

Show your pupils or your child an image of a lowercase letter (perhaps starting with Ladder Letters) and ask them to trace it in the air.

This will introduce them to the movements needed to form the letter.

  • Draw large lowercase letters.

Make things fun for children and encourage them to draw big versions of lowercase letters. Coloring them in afterward is not only great fun and relaxing, but it also helps to promote the fine motor skills that they’ll need to write the letters later.

  • Point out lowercase letters.

When lowercase letters are used, take the time to point them out and say how different they are from uppercase letters. You could also ask children to trace the shape using their fingers.

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