September 4, 2012

Sing Your Heart Out (More Ideas for Getting Started with Signing)

(Photo Credit: San Diego Chorus' Facebook Page)
My mother-in-law has a song for everything. Seriously. If she is buttering bread, she has a song in her repertoire that goes along with that activity.  It's amazing. Do you know someone like her?  Is that person you, or someone else who loves your baby? If so, your family has a head start on signing!

Just give some thought to the songs you already sing. What words can be signed in those songs?  Use an online sign language dictionary to help you gradually build your ASL vocabulary so you can sign along with those songs.  Keep it simple. Don't attempt to sign the whole song. Just add one or two words per song or verse.

Likewise, think about the words you hope your baby will start signing soon. Do you know any songs that include those words? Start singing (and signing) those songs! Make up new verses to add more of the words you want to sign. Heck, make up completely new songs if that's your thing. The point is, lean into your tendency to sing. Just add a sign or two to each song or verse that flows from your mouth and you will be well on your way.

In the beginning, sing and sign without regard to context or literal connections.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the mere act of singing and signing will help you build your signing vocabulary, and it will get your baby into the habit of looking at your hands when they are moving.  These two steps are half the battle! 

Over time, look for opportunities to sing songs that do connect with what you are doing.  If you're getting ready to change a diaper, sing your favorite diaper ditty, and sign "diaper" or "change."  If it's bath time, sing your favorite bath time song and add the sign for "bath" (and then sing an "all done" song when the bath is over).  If the cat or dog walks into the room, sing the "cat" or "dog" verse for  "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," and add the sign for "cat" or "dog."  You get the idea.

In my next post I'll share some ideas for modifying familiar songs as well as some of my favorite songs/music developed for signing.  In the meantime, feel free to add some of your own favorite songs to sing and sign in the comments section. 

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