I heard the value of learning sign language when my oldest, Kira, was small, but I never took advantage of it. My second daughter, Aamina, was slower to start talking, which created a lot of tantrums and hard days. Because of our hard days, we had a more urgent need for using sign language. Fortunately, a friend was exploring sign language for her family, and she recommended Signing Time DVDs, starting our journey of sign language at home. Since then we have ventured into other books, videos, and online resources. Teaching Aamina some signs has made our life incredibly easier, and now we get to use sign with my third daughter!
Even when Aamina was two and a half and her vocabulary increased, we didn’t need to use sign as often, but she still reverted to it when she was upset and just couldn’t get a legible word out. Signing definitely helped with words that are a bit harder for little ones to get out, and distinguishing between words that sound similar. For instance, Aamina saying “hungry” and “ice cream” sounded quite similar. Using sign language helped avoid tantrums, or giving away ice cream when it isn’t asked for.
Sign language definitely reduced tantrums in our home!
Need to learn sign language? Look no more!
Sign Language DVDs
We got started with Signing Time DVDs, and it’s still our favorite resource. The songs and animation of the videos make it fun to watch for both parents and kids. If you can only get a couple DVDs to have at home, I highly recommend going with Signing Time, and they have various options including Baby Signing Time, Potty Time, their preschool program, books, and CDs. If you’re not sure you want to invest the money in the Signing Time DVDs, they offer a digital subscription service, plus Amazon Instant Streaming has them for rent for $1.99 each, and many libraries carry the videos as well.
Once Upon a Sign is a fun way to experience fluent sign language, and since the actors all use ASL as their first language, this is the only true immersion method of the DVDs listed here, or of any I’ve found. You can read my more full review, as well.
The Brainy Baby sign language DVD is more your standard language learning DVD with clear pictures and repetition. I found that Aamina picked up words quickly from this DVD set, plus the accompanying flash cards are fun to review since she loves to show off what she has learned. Signing Time is more entertaining, but this Brainy Baby set definitely fills the need to learn baby sign language.
Also to note, Brainy Baby doesn’t always use ASL, but instead uses some “baby signs” to replace harder signs for little ones.
ASL Online Resources
Signing Time also has an online dictionary where you can look up various signs they cover in their videos. What I love about the Signing Time dictionary is the use of video and text. I know I can’t be the only one that sometimes has a hard time understanding hand motions without a video!
At one point, someone shared Lifeprint.com with me, and wow, what a resource! As with the other online resources I’ve listed, this is more for the parents to use, and then start using sign language as they see fit, rather than the DVDs, which are geared toward the children.
At the risk of sounding like a total Signing Time fan girl, I have to tell you about their new free sign language class! I have not yet taken this class, but with all their other products at such high quality, I don’t have any doubt this class will be great, too.
Another vast resource is Start ASL. This is another resource I have not tried myself, but scanning through it (and many other links while researching this post), I am impressed with the organization and variety of sign language topics.
Sign Language Books
Sign Language: My First 100 Words. We got this book from the library and it’s made it’s way to my Amazon wish list. It’s bright and colorful, making it easy to use again and again.
I love the look of this coloring book to reinforce signs for little ones! ABC Sign and Color doesn’t look as much like a reference book as it does a supplement, but what a fun way to tie in new signs you’re learning, and in alphabetic order!
I haven’t personally used Sign Language for Kids, but when looking over all the available books out there to teach sign language, this one is one of the highest rated on Amazon, so I figured I’d give it a shout out.
Of course the library is a great spot to find new books, both for the little ones and for the adults. I am so thankful for a nice library system in our area since I’ve heard it’s not that way all over the country.
Do you use sign language? If so, what purpose does it serve in your family and what resources do you use?
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