January 23, 2013

Start to Finish Story Time: See the Colors

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This week I begin a new series of posts that I've had in mind for quite some time. I'm calling it "Start to Finish Story Time," with the idea being that with each new post, I will provide a "start to finish" lesson plan for a sign language story time program for each of the themes covered in my "Story Time with Signs & Rhymes" books. This week's post provides a lesson plan for the theme "colors," using the book, "See the Colors."

My aim is to build each lesson plan in a pick-and-choose/modular format, meaning that you can apply the elements that work for your environment, age group(s) and personal interests, and skip the rest.

Each lesson plan incorporates ideas that are suitable for infant/toddler, preschool and/or school age audiences and each program incorporates activities that promote literacy/early literacy and one or more of the six keys skills recommended by the National Research Council for preparing children to become readers when they enter school. Programs can last from 20 - 45 minutes, depending on what you include and who your audience is.

I welcome your feedback on these posts, as I will consider and apply your suggestions and ideas into future lesson plans and posts. I hope you will share your additional ideas/experiences after trying out the lesson plans, allowing others to benefit from your input. Here is the lesson plan:

SEE THE COLORS: Sign Language for Colors


*Include one or more of the following to enrich the learning environment:

-Colored mats (or carpet squares/scarves/fabric samples) for children to sit on
-Colored hats for a playful hide and find song/game (described below)
-Colored scarves for dancing or playing hide and find games
-Colorful blanket
-Felt board and felt pieces for story retellings
-Colored balls/blocks/ for free play
-Paper, colored markers, and other basic art supplies

Sing an Opening Song to Practice/Introduce Signs:

*I Often Sing, "This is the Way We Sign for Yellow/Green/Brown/Pink/Etc" to the tune of "Here We Go "Round the Mulberry Bush," but any opening song that incorporates words/signs for the colors introduced in the book will work.

*I find that it is more fun to introduce the signs by singing vs. simply showing the signs and asking participants to sign along/practice with you. (Click here for links to a series of past posts where I delve into the topic of singing and signing).

*Don't feel obligated to introduce/incorporate all of the color signs included in the book the first time you share it for a story time. Let your comfort level be your guide.   At a minimum, introduce the primary colors, yellow, red, and blue. There is a signing glossary at the back of "See the Colors," or you can download the glossary from my publisher by clicking here (scroll down past the Star Wars Event info).

Read (or sing) the "Story Time with Signs & Rhymes" Story: "See the Colors," by Dawn Babb Prochovnic, Illustrated by Stephanie Bauer.

*Before you begin reading, invite children (and/or their grown ups) to:

1) Sing/chant the repeating phrases at the beginning of each page spread along with you (i.e. "See the yellow, see the yellow, see the yellow little one . . .)
2) Sign "baby" or "child" each time they hear the repeating phrase, "Little One."
3) Sign each color word when they hear it.

NOTE: "See the Colors" can be sung to the tune of "Oh My Darlin' Clementine." See my rendition here.

Sing, Dance, and Sign Along with Some Music:

*Play music that incorporates colors/signs for colors.  I like to use the song, "Do You Know the Colors of the Rainbow," from the Signing Time Songs Volume 2 CD, but any song/music that incorporates some of the colors that you've featured in your story time will work. (Click here for a post all about music made for signers.)

*Invite kids and their grown-ups to get up and dance to the music and do the signs for the colors when they hear the words for colors in the lyrics (and when they see you signing).

*Bring out the colorful scarves if you want to add this to your dancing (though it's harder to sign along if you're waving a scarf around!)

Round Out the Remainder of Your Story Time by Adding Some Quieter/Listening Activities and Some Active/Movement Activities: 

*Choose one or several of the options below to fit your participant age/attention span and program time available.

*In classroom or homeschool settings, these learning activities can be incorporated at different times during the day or even over several days.

*In library settings, different activities can be incorporated for different age groups of participants (i.e. All groups start with the basics above, but for the infant/toddler group, add another song or two and wrap it up; for the preschool group, add another story, some songs and/or music, and a game or a craft; for the school aged group, add a couple more stories, some songs and/or music, a game or two, some fun facts, and a craft).

Invite a Retelling of "See the Colors":

*Retell "See the Colors" using a homemade felt board and felt pieces (I cut basic shapes out of colored felt to match the story, i.e. a round yellow sun, a strip of brown dirt, a blue bird, a pink flower, a red apple, etc.). I let the kids help me retell the story and/or add each new felt shape. To encourage signing, my rule is to be a helper, you have to be a signer!

Read and Sign Along with Additional Stories:

*Two good (and very familiar) stories for incorporating the color signs are:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? and Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes.

Sing Songs:

NOTE: For any of these songs you can add props like hats, scarves, balls, blocks, etc. to help cement the color connection. I've listed a couple of examples where scarves or hats are explicitly used, but props can be incorporated into any of the songs.

*"If You Sign and You Know it, Show Me Red/Blue/Yellow, etc" sung to tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It." (i.e. "If you sign and you know, show me red. If you sign and you know it, show me red. If you sign and you know it, show me red. Really show it. If you sign and you know it, show me red.)

*"Do You Know the Sign For Blue?" sung to the tune of "London Bridge." (i.e. "Do you know the sign for blue, sign for blue, sign for blue? Do you know the sign for blue? Show me blue.")

*Find a Blue Scarf" sung to the tune of "Where is Thumbkin." Pass out colored scarves to participants, then sing and sign, "Find a blue scarf. Find a blue scarf." When the blue scarves have been "found," encourage participants to wave their "blue" scarf and sing the next portion of the verse, "I have blue. I have blue" (or "S/he has blue. S/he has blue."or "Sally has blue. Sally has blue.") Repeat this for several different rounds/colors based on the time/attention span available. This activity works well with infants/toddlers, too. The babies will enjoy the songs and the waving motion of the scarves, and the parents will learn the signs by singing and signing.

*"Where is the Red Hat?" sung to the tune of "The Farmer and the Dell." For this song, you'll need a bag full of colored hats. I sing and sign the beginning part of the verse for one of the colors I'm featuring, (i.e. "Where is the red hat? Where is the red hat?") then I fetch the related hat out of the bag and put it on my head and finish the verse ("Hi Ho the Derry O, I Found the Red Hat!"). Repeat this for several different colors based on time/attention span available. (An alternative that can be fun is to ask the children to close their eyes (they will peek...it's okay) and then "hide" the appropriate hat under a colorful blanket in the center of the circle. Preschoolers get an absolute thrill out of being able to anticipate and predict where the hat is "hidden" time and time again (and yes, I hide it in the same place each time--the kids can barely contain themselves by about the third time).

Play Signing Games:

*Have a colorful "cake walk." Set out a circle of colorful mats/carpet squares or other small props. Play music and instruct participants to move around the circle. When the music stops, each participant should stop near a colored mat or prop. Select a color that is represented in the circle and say (and/or show the sign for) that color. Anyone who is standing on/near that color (and who can make the correct sign for that color) wins a prize (or wins a chance to continue playing, while others sit out).

*Pass the colorful ball. I use a big ball I got at a science store in my hometown, but any colorful ball will do. Have participants sit in a circle. Start the ball moving around the circle by saying, "My name is ____ and I like the color _____" (using the color sign for the color word). Now, roll the ball to another player who says, "Thanks, ______. My name is _______, and I like the color ______," (again signing the color word). Play until everyone has had at least one chance, and/or until participants have learned each other's names.

*Sign Language Memory Game. Have participants stand in a circle. The first person begins by saying, "My name is _____ and I know the sign for the color ______" (using the color sign for the color word). The second person in the circle continues, "My name is ______ and I know the sign for the colors ______ and _______" (repeating the first color, and adding a new color, using the color signs for both). The third person continues, "My name is _____, and I know the sign for the colors ______, _______, and _______," (repeating the first two colors and adding a third, using the color signs for all of the color words), and so forth. A new round begins when someone cannot remember the string of colors in the right order.

*Sign Language Wiggle Buster: Have participants stand up. Call out for participants to engage in different movements based on the color of the clothing they are wearing. For example, "If your shirt is white, put your hand on your head." "If your shoes are brown, hop up and down three times." If you are wearing anything black, spin in a circle." "If your pants are blue, sit down." Use the signs for the colors you refer to during the game. This is a great game to get the wiggles out.

NOTE: Instructions for a wide variety signing games are included in each book in the "Story Time with Signs & Rhymes" series. Instructions for "Create a Deck of Cards," "Play Go Fish," and "Guess the Mystery Person" are offered on page 31 of "See the Colors."

Fun Facts:

*There are fun facts about ASL included on page 30 in each "Story Time with Signs & Rhymes" book.   Older kids particularly enjoy the fun facts, but even preschoolers, and the parents of infants/toddlers enjoy learning about ASL and/or Deaf Culture in addition to learning key signs.

*A fun fact I like to point out during the "colors" theme is that many of the signs for colors are signed using the handshape of the letter the color word begins with (i.e. the signs for blue and brown both use  "B hand." The sign for yellow uses the "Y hand," and the sign for green uses the "G hand.")

Craft Activities:

*Just about any crafty project can work into the "colors" theme; even a simple coloring sheet. To tie into the sign language story time, just ask participants to show you or a partner the signs for the different colors they've incorporated into their artwork.

*One craft activity I really like to use for this theme is to encourage participants to make their own "See the Colors" book. Give each participant 4 sheets of paper. Stack the paper, and fold in half to make a "book" that will be 8 pages. Offer art supplies and instructions to create one color-themed illustration per page. Encourage participants to read and sign their book to a partner.

Free Play Activities:

*Put out colorful blocks or balls and allow children to do what they do best; play. Encourage parents/caregivers to engage children with questions that invite the use of color signs in the conversation (i.e. "Will you hand me the red block?" "How many yellow balls can you find?")

Closing Song:

*I typically close each story time with a song that reviews the colors we've learned during the program. I usually sing this song AFTER I've given instructions for the craft and/or free play activities (if I have these elements planned for the program), but BEFORE I let participants transition to the craft and/or free play activities. I often sing the same song that I opened the program with (For example, "We Learned the Sign for Red/Blue/Green/Brown/Pink/Etc Today" to the tune of "Here We Go "Round the Mulberry Bush," but any closing song that incorporates words/signs for the colors introduced in the book will work).

That wraps up this week's "Start to Finish Story Time." I hope this has been helpful, and I look forward to your input and ideas, which I will incorporate into future posts. If you are planning your own Sign Language Story Time event, be sure to check out the great resources my publisher has developed to help you plan your own event (scroll down past the Star Wars Event Info).

If you love the ideas I've shared, but would prefer that I deliver the Sign Language Story Time to your students or patrons, invite me to your school or library, or ask me about Skype visits!

Happy Signing! Dawn

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