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Signing With Babies And Children: October 2008

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Intergrading Sign Language with Preschool Co-ops

Have you ever been involved in a preschool co-op? I know each one operates a little differently than the next. But as a person that loves to share the power of signing with your own children, be open to sharing it with the people around you.

A preschool co-op can be overwhelming and fun at the same time. There are programs out there designed with its own curriculum, and at other times, we are given the opportunity to come up with our own curriculum (including activities and songs). Both scenarios offer a chance to intergrade sign language with learning.

Whether you just joined a preschool co-op, are in charge of one yourself, or take any part in one, it's never too late to introduce signs to both the children and parents involved.

Don't be surprised with various reactions from parents and children alike once you begin intergrading sign language. In some parts of the country, you'll have no problem as many mothers/caregivers are looking for opportunities to learn sign language and have it be a part of their children's lives. Some of you on the other hand may be in a place where people don't have much to say about sign language quite yet. In either case, go for it.  Here are some steps in getting started:
  • Inform your co-op that you teach sign language to your child
  • Let them know that you are willing to teach sign language to other children
  • Use opening and closing exercises (routines) to introduce signs
  • Even if it's simply teaching the alphabet signs, be willing to do your part in teaching (the children and other members alike)
  • Keep intergrading signs within your own home if other members of the co-op do not seem interested
I, myself, have been in front of friends and their children in a preschool co-op setting. While signing with songs, I have felt occasional questioning faces peering up at me or directly at me from the eyes of the mothers. As I took the time to ask the mothers about their thoughts on sign language, I was impressed to know that although their actions showed otherwise, they were very happy to be influenced by the power of signing!

Don't be afraid to look online for resources, such as ASL dictionaries, to help add signs to your preschool activities and songs. Please email me with any questions or with any need of ideas.

Links for helping you get started in integrading sign language into your co-op:

Written by Shawna Tran.
websites: &

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Finger Spelled Words

There are many finger spelled words in American Sign Language.  Consider the fact that each word in sign language can also be finger spelled. This creates a fun way to learn how to sound out words and recognize site words in any given place.

All you need is your hands for props. And for all ages there are different games to play with your young ones when it comes to using your hands and sign language. These games can turn into valuable learning tools.

Take for instance a simple learning activity such as sounding out your words with your four year old. You would usually need a pencil and some paper for your props or lots of talking involved to tell your child which letters to sound out. Instead start with three signed letters... keep signing each letter with its sound: s-a-t. Change the first letter of each word until you are ready to switch to another set of words: c-a-t. Sign the letters slowly, and let your child sound out each letter at a time until he can run the sounds together and make a word (speeding up the signing along with the sounding out until the sounds are recognized as a word).

Watch the video as an example.  Add some fun to learning by signing! Hands-on!

Written and recorded by Shawna Tran.  

Monday, October 6, 2008

Music and Sign Language

From Lora Heller, Music Therapist and Founding Director of Baby Fingers LLC (

By Steve Kokette 1995 (shortened below)

For many years now it has been widely recognized that students benefit from being encouraged to move to music. In this brief essay I wish to propose that the use of American Sign Language (ASL) with hearing children may be a beneficial form of such movement. My reasons for making this suggestion stem from the proven value of using bodily movement in teaching music, especially applications of the "Dalcroze Method," and the proven effectiveness of signing in teaching language arts to children who have no hearing impairments. As early as the 1800's, some educators working with children who had hearing impairments advocated that Sign language be taught to children without such an impairment, because they noticed that the hearing siblings of deaf children often developed better skills in reading, spelling, and writing if they were exposed to Sign language at home. Teachers who knew Sign language and used it while teaching in the classroom observed that children paid greater attention to the lesson. Music teachers noticed that children paid greater attention and learned lyrics better, if the teacher were signing while singing the text. They further observed that children seemed able to recall lyrics more readily, even weeks or months later, if the music educator used Sign while teaching.

Dalcrose theorized that lessons in rhythmic gymnastics helped children in their other lessons, for they seemed to develop keener powers of observation and analysis, greater understanding and more acute memory. Teachers of subjects other than music, according to Dalcroze, often found that rhythmic training to music made students more responsive, more elastic, not only in movement but in personality. Learning signs with words and music enhances the beauty of the song's performance. Sign can improve the motor skills of young people, and indeed it is good exercise for people of all ages.

Music classes are a part of general education for life, and they have always concentrated on the joy of hearing. It is possible that music combined with Sign may make a contribution beyond the joy of hearing and keep communication skills alive, even when hearing is no longer possible.

Short version of an article Copyright 1995 Steve Kokette.

shadow puppets music video

Sia's song and sign video is really special.
Enjoy watching.

From Baby Fingers LLC

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Political Signs

It would be hard to miss all the media coverage about the upcoming presidential election. Magazines, television, newspapers, and websites – they’re all filled with information about the two candidates, their running mates, their personal histories, and their political leanings. What’s especially striking, however, is the attention that is paid to the candidates’ family life. The spotlight is almost equally shared with their spouses and children. Why is this? Perhaps we realize that having a close-knit, happy family says a lot about a potential leader and, regardless of political party, we trust in that closeness.
So what makes a close-knit, happy family? The answer is certainly not a simple one, but ultimately, happy families are built by healthy relationships and healthy communication. And such connections start at the very beginning, as soon as you become a parent.
Hillary was at the market with her 10-month-old son, Ryan. As she pushed her cart through the aisles, Ryan sat facing her. Hillary told me: “Ryan started brushing his hair with his hand. He was trying to tell me something. I recognized the sign, LION.” Hillary was puzzled. Where would he have seen a picture of a lion – perhaps on a box or package? She looked, but didn’t see anything. “Ryan kept signing LION over and over, but I couldn’t find it,” she said. Finally, Hillary saw a stuffed animal lion on top of the freezers. “I acknowledged it by signing LION to Ryan and his eyes lit up. He was so happy to be understood! The rest of the shopping day we talked and signed about lions. When daddy came home we told him about the lion we saw.”
So what does this simple story have to do with the upcoming elections? It’s all about connecting – with voters, yes, but more importantly it’s about connecting with your most important constituents of all time, your children. It’s never too early to build the foundation of the sacred parent-child relationship, just keep your eyes out for lions.
Signing with your child is one of the first steps in developing a close relationship. Signing goes beyond the basics of daily vocabulary, it is about feeling understood. It is about empowering your little one to tell you what he or she want, needs, and thinks. By using sign language within the larger context of a communicative style of parenting, we believe in the miraculous effects of signing upon the entire parent-child relationship.

Let the Sign Shine!

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