February 21, 2014

Enrich Your Learning Environment with Sign Language: Post #4

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Sign language is a great way to provide "pencil practice" for young children because it stimulates fine motor development. Holding a pencil requires fine motor skills. Incidentally, so does talking (given that vocal cords are fine motor muscles).

Some people shy away from teaching babies and young children "difficult" signs because they might not be able to do them accurately. I prefer to teach kids a variety of signs, including those that might be more difficult.

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The sign for water is a classic example. You make this sign by tapping the index finger of your "W Hand" to your chin. It's hard for new little fingers (and old arthritic fingers!) to hold the pinky finger down with the thumb. It often takes several practice attempts over time before a young child will produce this sign correctly. But think about all of the brain stimulation this provides! I love watching a child's face when they are attempting/practicing a challenging sign. It's as if you can literally see the wheels turning in their brains. The same is true when they are learning to hold a pencil!

It's easy to add the sign for water to your home or classroom routine. Instead of saying, "raise your hand if you'd like some water," or "line up for the water fountain," you can say, "Show me with your signs if you'd like a drink of water." This turns transition time into learning time!

Alphabet games can also be enriched with sign language. Instead of just singing the alphabet, sing and sign the alphabet. Instead of just signing with the dominant hand, sign with the non-dominent hand. Instead of just signing the alphabet with one hand, sign the alphabet with BOTH hands. Instead of signing the alphabet at a normal pace, sign it faster, and FASTER and FASTER!  You can find loads of ideas for incorporating the alphabet signs into your learning environment in this Start to Finish Story Time Post and you can find free ASL glossaries and alphabet games/activities (for younger kids or for older kidson my publisher's website.

Happy Signing!

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