“Simple Signing with Young Children” by Carol Garboden Murray
I discovered this wonderful resource several years ago. Actually, I’ve always been interested in signing, and I’ve attended numerous workshops at early childhood conferences on using American Sign Language, or ASL, with young children. But this book is the most accessible and easy-to-use resource I’ve found. It’s geared toward early childhood professionals, includes great ideas for using signing in the classroom, and also features a picture index of commonly used signs.
Research studies have documented that using ASL with young children actually helps them develop language and pre-literacy skills. This makes sense to me, considering how children seem to learn everything better when they can learn in an active, physical way.
I often use signs in songs, especially when I’m having trouble coming up with a “motion” to illustrate a word or phrase. I’ve also written several song activities using ASL, some of which are in my newest book, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Music Activities for Active Learning,” coming out in June from Gryphon House. Using signs in stories can also help children stay focused and engaged.
Another excellent resource is the site “Signing Savvy.” All you need to do is type in a word, and a video of a person signing that word appears.
ASL is a fantastic way to make language learning concrete in a natural and age-appropriate way.