sign language

Sign Language for Kids

Teaching Kids Sign Language

PickyKidPix has been learning sign language in class because there is a child who is hard of hearing. He’s been her classmate for three years now and it’s amazing to me how much sign language she’s picked up from just first grade, 2nd and 3rd grade. I asked her if she uses it and she says that she will sign with that boy even though his also has Cochlear implants. Sometimes signing is just less disruptive.

I’ve noticed that she will also sign with her friends, just for fun. They especially like that we don’t know what they are saying but they have to spell out each word letter by letter since their vocabulary is limited to things like: yes, no, please, thank you, eat, I have to use the bathroom, I love you, mom and dad.

I found this great site that has a video demo for 100 basic American Sign Language signs:

This page contains links to about a hundred basic ASL signs that are frequently used between parents and their young children. Remember, there is much more to learning American Sign Language than just memorizing signs. ASL has its own grammar, culture, history, terminology and other important aspects. It takes time and effort to become a “skilled language user.” But you have to start somewhere if you are going to get anywhere–so dive in and enjoy.

Here’s a great video on the sign language alphabet.

Once you’ve mastered the first 100 signs, you can move on to these simple sentences:
I LOVE MY FAMILY.
MY DAD LIKE[s] COLD PIZZA.
MY MOM LIKE[s] CHURCH.
[The] HE-(point off to your side) BOY LIKE[s] HOT-DOG[s].
[The] SHE-(point) GIRL WANT[s] [to] FOOD [eat].
[The] THOSE-2 BOY [and] GIRL FUTURE [will] MARRIAGE [get married].
MY BROTHER LIKE HOT WASH-(body) [bath].
MY SISTER LIKE[s] SCHOOL.
MY GRANDMA HAVE [ has a] GREEN COAT.
PAST [last] YEAR MY GRANDPA WORK [ed].
MY AUNT SLEEP HER UNDERWEAR.
MY UNCLE DIVORCE.
SHE HAPPY BABY!
SHE (the) GIRL (is) SINGLE
MY MOM-DAD (parents) (are) SEPARATE(d).
I FINISH(ed) MY HOME-WORK.
I DRIVE-to SCHOOL.
I GO (to the) STORE.
I PAST GO (went to) CHURCH WITH MY BOY-MARRIAGE (husband).
PAST (last) WEEK I SLEEP IN MY CAR.
PAST (last) NIGHT (it was) COLD OUT (outside).
It’s interesting that signing is just like learning a foreign language. Notice how the sentences have their own syntax. It reminds me of Mandarin Chinese.
I also found this great site called Signing Time! Kids  that has fun games.
Have you ever signed with your kids when they were babies? Would your kids be interested in learning a few signs?
  My First 100 Words (Sign Language)
Featuring cool computer-generated illustrations and a simple kid-friendly design, this reference book for the youngest readers makes learning sign language fun and easy! Learn 100 basic signs for everyday use in helpful categories, such as Food, Colors, Animals, In the Classroom, and more! Also included are instructions on how to fingerspell the entire alphabet and numbers. For quick reference, this book also comes with a bonus full-size poster of the ASL alphabet–perfect for home or the classroom! 
American Sign Language for Kids: Learn ASL Beginner Level 1, Vol. 1 by Tracie Miller
A DVD to learn American Sign Language from The Language Tree. I’ve used their videos for Spanish and Chinese before and I like them.
Sign Language for Kids: A Fun & Easy Guide to American Sign Language by Lora Heller
From the ABCs and the “1-2-3s” to full sentences, this fun guide, illustrated with photos of children signing, teaches youngsters all the basics of American Sign Language (ASL). They’ll start with the alphabet and counting, and move on to vocabulary for family, pets, and the home; things at school; days of the week; colors; favorite foods; sports and hobbies; and much more. Often, a sentence accompanies the sign, so that kids can grasp the use of verbs and other parts of ASL grammar. There are even explanations of how to change a statement into a question just by changing your facial expression. Now, even hearing kids can communicate easily with deaf friends or family members and have secret conversations whenever they want.
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image from CDC Kids Quest

 


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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

10 Comments

  1. Great article! Posted it on my Facebook page & Stumble Upon.
    Sarah Dugo recently posted…Is forgiving student debt a good idea?My Profile

  2. Artchoo

    I love that PickyKidPix has decided to learn sign language. Now that you mention it, kids love their ‘secret’ languages, and I’ll bet more kids would be into learning sign language for this reason alone!
    Artchoo recently posted…If Skateboards are the New Porsche, Include Your Kids in Your CrisisMy Profile

  3. Ann

    I started signing with my daughter around a year and those few signs were I taught her were helpful. She started talking soon after that so we didn’t get very far with it.

    This is very interesting, I didn’t know ASL had its own grammar, etc.
    Ann recently posted…What to Do If You OversleepMy Profile

    • Hi Ann,
      I never did the baby signing thing but it sounds like those parents who did that have a foundation to build off of. It has been fun to learn a few words at the dinner table too.

  4. vanita

    This is an amazing list! Thanks so much. My younger teen has asked me how kids learn sign language and now I have answers for her
    vanita recently posted…How to deal with Lemons and Farting Drunks on the BusMy Profile

  5. Michelle

    I saw your post on Pinterest and as a Deaf Education teacher, I think it is amazing that this young boy is being included by your daughter and their classmates. If you don’t mind I would like to correct you on some terms that can be hurtful to the Deaf community, the term hearing impaired is not used to much any more a better term is Hard of Hearing and the young boy has Cochlear Implants not Cochlear ear plants. Your explanation of ASL and the grammar is correct. I commend you and your daughter for learning ASL and communicating with the young boy. There is a great series called Signing Time. It is a series of DVD’s that teaches ASL in a engaging way for children. Also, there is an online dictionary with videos for probably all the ASL signs at ASLpro.com.

    • Hi Michelle,
      Thank you so much for correcting my errors. I updated the post with the correct terms and really appreciate you taking the time to educate me! Thank you also for your great recommendations. I’m having trouble with my internet at the moment but will add ASLPro.com to the post. There are a lot of sites that aren’t working right now … I have no idea why but hopefully the issue gets fixed soon.

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