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Signing With Babies And Children: January 2009

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Friday, January 23, 2009

New ABC song

Just over six months ago I was working with a speech language pathologist (SLP). I’ve known much about speech and language and have done tons of research and lecturing on the benefits that signing has on language but working with a professional was a wonderful experience that has broadened my knowledge of that field. While working with the SLP she had commented that she found songs and music helpful in her practice when working with the children. She continued to say that she found the traditional alphabet song is too fast when signing it with the younger kids to pick it up easily and really benefit from. She wished there was a song that allowed for a slower beat that she could really show each sign with the letter and pause before the next. I concurred with her on this as even the moms who take my class have a hard time signing and singing it, at least at first. And we often get a good laugh at trying to sing and sign the alphabet together as it does feel a little fast. I am very fortunate that my husband is a musician and music producer so I went home and told him about the ABC song being too fast and asked if we could make one that would be useful to this woman in her practice. So we sat down and made a song that is not only slower, allowing for easier transition form each letter but also has words that you can sign if you’d like. I’m please to say that this SLP among many many others have emailed me to say that they have been successfully using this song with the children in their clinics with much success! So I’m hoping that some of you will find this song useful when learning and practicing your ABC’s as well!
If you are Canadian and want an ABC song that sings ZED instead of ZEE I made the same song for you with that modification :-)
Laura Berg, My Smart Hands, 'educating young minds'

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

14 months finger spells EXIT!!!

Last week, as we left SignShine class, Nathaniel, 14 months old fingered spelled some letters. His mom asked if there is an EXIT sign in the class, we couldn’t find it. Nathaniel kept finger spelling (with his approximation), his mom, Gillian, who took our class since Nathaniel was 6 months old insisted to look for the sign. We all stood there, looking for the sign. And here it was... outside of the classroom door, at the ceiling, a green dark sign: EXIT. We were so surprised and excited.
Gillian shared with us that Nathaniel loves fingering spell EXIT, since his dad signs with him E.X.I.T. in every opportunity they see the EXIT sign!
All I can say --- wow, what an ENTRANCE to the spelling world. Create an HABIT and choose to sign and spell one word you see all the time (like your child's name, or family name on the door).

Next blog, look for Nathaniel's short video signing EXIT!!

Let the Sign Shine!

Etel Leit, M.S.
Founder & Owner

Signing is "Clearly" a Blessing for My Little One

The reason why I am late writing my entry this month is because my little boy has been sick.  My son is nearly five years old.  He has pneumonia, and this particular case affected his brain.  To make big words and a longer story shorter, my son lost the ability to talk or move his body at his own demand.  He is regaining these abilities one step at a time.

He is still in the hospital, but he is doing much better.  I am so grateful for his willingness to fight this battle within.  He is winning.  

And what a blessing signing has already become.  As he is recovering and making great strides, he desires to communicate again.  Just tonight my son wanted to watch a dvd.  I had three "Thomas the Trains" to choose from.  I began to hold up the three and figure out how to have him choose which one.  He is regaining control of his hands but still cannot speak freely.  As I was saying the colors of the dvd cases, I saw him hold up his hand and move his thumb in and then slowly begin to move his hand.  He was signing "blue."  

I remembered all the pictures the speech pathologist had printed out such as those of a boy "sleeping," "watching tv," "playing cars," and so forth.  I thought how much easier it would be for him to sign instead of trying to point to the little pictures.  As I was going over each picture and trying to see if he could sign them, I saw his hand go up and try to sign "tv."  He was basically telling me, "Be quiet, mom.  I just want to relax and watch tv already." ^_^

After he was done watching, he looked over at me.  I got up and went over to his bed to ask, as I signed, "do you want a new one or same one?"  I began to sign more words as I spoke.  He took his other hand from underneath the blanket and attempted to sign "new" as his hands came together on top of each other.  Then I asked which kind of dvd.  He was able to sign "trains" to tell me that he wanted to watch another "Thomas the Trains" dvd following with the sign "red" for the red case.  It was so clear as he signed.  

He smiled as I grabbed the red dvd and placed it in the player.  I couldn't help but jump inside as I realized what a blessing signing is at this moment in time in our lives.  It is allowing me to clearly see my son's needs at this time as he is striving to be so brave and strong!!!  I love you!

written by Shawna Tran

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tips for baby to pick up signs faster

I often get asked if I have any tips on how to get a baby to sign faster. I always say the most important thing for parents to do to help their child pick up signs faster is to be consistent in their signing. It is more important for parents to sign each and every time they say a word than to sign 30 words once in a while. I always tell parents to start with a few signs that they are comfortable with and use on a regular basis, such as the word ‘milk’. Every single time you say the word ‘milk’ make the sign. The baby will pick this sign up faster than if you only sign it ever few times you say the word. You can sign as many words as you want and introduce as many as you’d like however, make sure you are consistent.

It is also important to keep in mind that all babies are different; some are going to pick it up faster than others. I started signing with my daughter when she was 4 months old but she didn’t start signing back until 9.5 months. However, I’ve had parents in my class who started signing with their baby at six months and the next week they started signing back. Others have not signed until eleven or twelve months. Make sure to be patient; the signs will come if you are consistent!
written by: Laura Berg Founder of My Smart Hands

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What's Your Bent? - What's your Kid's?!!!

Bents, Personality types, Learning Styles... Lions, Otters, Golden Retrievers, Beavers, INFJ's, ESTP's, Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic...? They are all different but closely linked together. Utilizing American Sign Language enhances those that are strengths AND minimizes those that may be weaknesses. Take a moment to find out what your personality bent is. Go to the link and take a QUICK personality inventory. It's not a test and oddly enough in 6 months this gage may read very different for you.

Over operating in our strengths is often times our weakness. Mainly because we insist on others to do the same - as we do. Understanding our differences in personality, bent and learning style gives us the opportunity to allow the other individual to do just that - be the individual they are.

This is a helpful tool in your marriage, relationships, work and with your child! More Later!

Monday, January 5, 2009


One Mom's Story:

At a year old, James understood most of Edie's signs, but did not produce any. Until.... he ate lunch at a friend's home, who did not have an extra high chair. There was no room for his milk cup on his stroller, where he was eating that day. So, James requested milk from his mom, with a clear, deliberate sign!!!

And Another:

When Ayers had a bad stomach virus for 10 days, the only thing his body could digest was breast milk. It really made a big difference in how he felt, too, to have the milk. Signing made such a huge difference for us during this time, because he would sign for milk often. I think without the signing, he would have just cried, and I wouldn't have known what he needed - sleep? Tylenol? But through his signing of "milk," I always knew when he was ready for more. It was wonderful. Then, as Ayers started to get well, he started signing "eat." This told me that he was ready for some food. It was so incredibly helpful, to know what he wanted/needed at what times. The illness was very hard, but I can't imagine how much harder it would have been without the sign language. It is wonderful!


When given the opportunity, these little guys needed to sign!  They were motivated, and that motivated their moms to continue signing with them more and more!  Remember how important signing is in your routine, and your baby's routine, so that in times of need your little one will be motivated to sign (and so will you!).

Thanks to these moms from Baby Fingers for sharing their stories!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What do we all want?

We all want to be understood. Think about the last seriously frustrating conversation you had with someone close to you – your mother, your sister, your spouse, your best friend. Chances are the thing that bothered you most was the sense that the person you were arguing with just didn’t get what you were saying, that she just wasn’t listening to you!

Now imagine that you didn’t even have words to try to get your point across – or worse, that you didn’t possess even the power to voice distinct sounds. Imagine how frustrating that would be. What would you do to try to get your message heard? Yell? Cry? Throw a fit?

But what if you could stop the sobbing before it started, or head off the tantrums before they began? What if you could figure out a way to truly communicate with your child, creating a positive environment in which you could resolve your power struggles in an easy and respectful way, satisfying and honoring the needs and feelings of you both?

Let the Sign Shine!

Etel Leit, M.S.
Founder & Owner

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