Upper Case Vs. Lower Case


I understand using upper case to emphasize a specific word or phrase in a piece of text. Of course, abbreviations and acronyms should also be written in upper case.

What I don’t understand is how in children’s programs complete words are often written in upper case letters.

Almost all of the letters in a text, no matter whether it be online or in printed text will be lower case letters. These are the letters that children should be learning.

I appreciate that children’s programming tries to teach about letters, words, phonics, spelling, and vocabulary. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge the seemingly predominate use of uppercase letters. Either way the children are learning, right?

But consider this

One great show that I have seen about building words is an animated program called “Word World.” It has likable characters that often play with letters to build objects they need for the story. It is very well done and I understand why upper case letters are used here. It is much easier to use capital letters because most of them have a flat top and bottom to them. As such, they lend themselves well to creating depictions of the words using their letters. Good enough.

But other shows often spell complete words in UPPER CASE when it is REALLY NOT NEEDED. PERHAPS IT IS EVEN DETRIMENTAL TO DO SO. Most letters are round and of different sizes and positions. Kids need to learn this. They need to be exposed to more and more words to learn.

Shows like Sesame Street and The Electric Company just seem to get it. This image is from an older episode of The Electric Company but the new shows are following on this tradition.

Notice how the word “steal” is all in lower case. This prepares kids better for their reading in the real world. This word will most likely look like this in a chapter or picture book.

The other great thing about the presentation of this word on the screen is that the vowel sound is in a different colour. It is easy to understand and teaches kids phonics.

What do you think? Do you see this as a problem or do you think I am nit-picking? Do you write in upper case letters when you print? Join the discussion and drop a comment below. Thanks!