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Signing With Babies And Children: May 2009

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spring Fever

It's spring!

This is a wonderful time to share with your family all the fun signs for things outdoors.  Trees, grass, flowers, butterflies, sunshine... even rain and umbrellas!  Savor the moments.  A fun song to learn is Family Tree by Tom Chapin for some great family and nature vocabulary.  Visit for more helpful hints, classes, distance learning, books and DVDs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Songs To Sing And Sign

In our My Smart Hands™ classes we sing songs that incorporate the signs that we teach. I finally got around to sharing the songs with everyone on You Tube that we use in our classes. It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken a baby signing class with My Smart Hands™, one of my colleagues on this blog or if you’ve learned how to sign by yourself you’ll find the key words in these songs are relevant to your daily routines. I’m going to attach the links for you to view and hear the songs and hopefully you’ll find enjoyment out of singing and signing along with them.

I Love To Ride

Hey Mommy, Hey Daddy

Play It Again!

Please Change Me!

If you would like an instructional video of these songs or to purchase an mp3 file of them to download to your computer there are links in the description of each video posted on You Tube.

I hope you enjoy!
Laura Berg, My Smart Hands

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Where does it Hurt?

      "I wonder where it hurts," a mother asks herself as she sees that her eighteen month old son is not feeling well.

My nephew, Jaxton, was not feeling well.  He was not able to sleep and was running a fever.  My sister was not sure whether to take him to the doctor or not.  

As her husband returned home from work, they both witnessed little Jaxton signing "HURT" and then opening his mouth while pointing towards his throat.

To my astonishment, I told her that my three year old has a hard time telling me where it hurts when he's sick (Jaxton only 18 months old). 

Jaxton was able to communicate where he was hurting, and sure enough as he went to the doctor, he had swollen glands and his parents were given some advice how to make him more comfortable at night to be able to sleep.  

The power of communication through signs enables children to show us what they need and where they need it most.

Written by Shawna Tran  
credit clipart: (ASL dictionary)

Simple Baby Signing games

Hannah signs "Bath"

Some mums in my classes have said that they don’t have time to sign with their children. They thought you’d have to set aside a chunk of time to intensively teach your child to sign every day!

I want to focus my next few blogs on simple signing games you can play during the every-day tasks you have to do like shopping, bathtime, meal time etc. These games are the ones I have played with my children and it helped making the signs fun and appealing – as well as encouraging interaction and repetition.

Today I start with a simple game for bathtime…where you can sign the words ‘All gone’, ‘ Again’, ‘where’, ‘Hat’.

Take whatever toy you have in the bath – this might be a boat or duck (great chance to show the baby the sign for boat or duck!).

Now put it on his/her head – great laughter and cheers from mom. Sign ‘Hat’ and say “You [Charlie/Emma etc] have a hat on”! It will of course fall off (= surprised look and say/sign “All gone! Where is the hat???”)

Find the toy and say “Shall we do that AGAIN?”

Repeat until your child gets bored or the bathwater goes cold!

I know it sounds like a simple game but its great fun for the babies!

I know it sounds like a simple game but its great fun for the babies!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Signing in Bilingual Homes: ASL is the Common Bond

Are you fortunate enough to know more than one language? Feeling a little confused about how to teach your child your native language? Do you slip back into English because you fear your little one won’t understand you otherwise? Do you struggle between the desire to give your child the gift of a second language and the concern that your personal communication and connection will suffer? Well, you’re not alone. I hear over and over again from bilingual parents that it’s easier just to speak English with their kids because that’s the “norm” among other parents and the kids’ friends. But what a gift they would be missing out on.

Our home happens to be quad lingual. You’re probably wondering how we get through the day! We have figured out how to make it work for us. My first language is Hebrew, while my husband and children are Americans and the extended family knows about one word in Hebrew – Shalom. Our wonderful nanny is a native Spanish speaker and we have always encouraged her to share her language with us. I knew early in my first pregnancy that I wanted my children to benefit from all these languages, but until I discovered signing, I wasn’t sure how to integrate so many different vocabularies without causing confusion in our home.

Signing became a common language for everyone in our household. Whether my husband was offering our daughter some milk or her nanny handed her a cup of leche or I poured her chalav, we all used the same ASL sign to describe it. In this way, it was easy for my kids to learn new words in all the languages, because the sign was always the same and it became the common bond.

Signing as a multiple-language tool is a wonderful way to demonstrate to our children the similarities among people and races all over the world. In this way, signing encourages tolerance. Signing is a way to make the unknown familiar, and teaches our kids the most important skills in the world: understanding and compassion.

Regardless of how many languages are spoken in your home, teaching your child ASL is a proven way to begin to hardwire yet another skill – the ability to learn other languages. We have long known that it is easier to learn a second language as a small child, while the pathways of the brain are still being mapped. Studies now suggest that a child who has learned a second language (including sign language) early in life has an easier time learning additional languages as they age, because their brains already understands the process. Signing can be your child’s “gateway” second language. It’s the gift that’s bound to enrich your child’s life tremendously!

Let the Sign Shine!

Etel Leit, M.S.
Founder & Owner