Our family has used American Sign Language (ASL) for several years. We go in cycles where we talk more and sign less and then times where we have toddlers who need to sign to be well understood, so we sign more. We also simply enjoy learning to sign. I have posted before about why we sign and our favorite resource: Signing Time DVDs.
Making plans for 2010 we knew we wanted more sign language practice. We have Daniel, a semi-verbal 2 year old, and Oliver, a non-verbal 10 month old. That means we need lots of signing as a family for them to pick up the signs we want them to use.
Here is the basic plan:
* We will watch a Signing Time DVD daily and sign together. We own 28 Signing Time DVDs at last count, so we have plenty of material to work with.
* We will have special signs each week that we use as much as possible, especially when speaking to the little ones. The big kids (Makayla, Joseph, Emma) will have opportunities to play teacher to the family at random moments in the day – this will be surprise announcements.
* We will play “signing please” each day for at least 10 minutes. I’ll describe the game to the kids like this: “Pretend we’re on tv and someone pushed the mute button. We’re still playing, but nobody can hear us so we have to sign.” The idea is simply that we all have to sign for those 10 minutes, that talking does not count.
* We will have story time with board books that are easy enough we can sign along. One great example is Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. In this book we could sign the animals or their colors, or both. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom would be an easy way to practice signing the alphabet.
* Other easy games we can play:
- Charades – acting out animals or activities. We can guess out loud, but we have to sign it too.
- Snack Time Signing – even meals and snacks provide opportunities for a signing game. I can sign the options they can choose from (Do you want apples or bananas?), or the kids can sign for things I leave off the table (May I have a fork? – when we are eating spaghetti).
- Sing and sign – Signing Time has wonderful songs we can sing together and sign.
- Find It – Someone signs an item and everyone goes looking for it.
What if you don’t own Signing Time DVDs? I highly suggest the internet! Resources abound online. For example here are a few sites. Be aware that I have not fully explored these sites, but they seem to be appropriate and are all FREE. Some sell products as well, ignore that, I did!
- ASL University – free online curriculum
- iCANsign – some free baby sign resources
- Video sign dictionary – from Baby Hands Productions
- The Signing Time website - has free activity guides, coloring books, and more.
What about your family? Do you have a special subject you enjoy learning together?