American Sign Language and Early Childhood Music


“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

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.


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