photo 3am_dj_home_zps919fb85e.png photo 3am_dj_about_zps7cce4c75.png photo 3am_dj_website_zps73051235.png photo 3am_dj_ss_zps6759ec2a.png photo 3am_dj_bs_zps43e27832.png

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


You’ve got to love the climate in Northern California, and you’ve got to LOVE the teachers there! Last week when I was in Sacramento we started brainstorming different ways to use sign language in the classroom. I’ve always promoted sign language because it’s engaging, multi-sensory, and it’s FREE! Take a look at these ideas and I bet you’ll come up with at least one or two new ways to integrate sign language in your classroom.

Twinkle Signs (Cary Ehrlich)
Use alphabet cards with pictures and sing the letter name, then the sound, then the picture to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Demonstrate the sign as you sing each letter.
A /a/ apple
B /b/ bear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear (Nancy Heffley)
Begin with signing only color words as you repeat the chant from Brown Bear.
Later in the year add signs for animals.
Eventually children will be able to recite the story from beginning to end while signing it.

*Another advantage to teaching children sign language is that it integrates both hemispheres of the brain.

Sight Word Cues (Tim Walker)
Teach students the sign for each sight word to help them scaffold and make the connection.

As you introduce new vocabulary words, learn to sign them by using the dictionary on

Spelling Words (Vanessa Ortiz)
One student signs each letter in a word. (Sight words, color words, CVC words, names, etc.) The other student says the word being spelled.
*If they are still learning their letters one student shows a letter and the other student signs it.

“Handy” (pun intended) Signs (Julie Dushane)
Teach children signs for “tissue,” “bathroom,” etc. to cut down on verbal disruptions during listening or story time. Children sign their need and the teacher can give a nod for permission.

Transitions (Vonda Mellott)
While waiting in the hallway use a “silent voice” (make and say the letter with the mouth, but no sound) as you make the letter signs.
*You can also whisper the sound as you make the letter.
“A says /a/ /a/ /a/ B says /b/ /b/ /b/…”

Introductions (Autumn Carey)
Let students introduce themselves to each other using the first letter of their name. “My name is Autumn (sign “a”). How are you?”

Calendar Time (Bonnie Napton)
Use sign language for the days of the week and the months of the year as you sing calendar songs.
*Also use sign language to introduce the letter of the week and sing alphabet songs.

Thumbs Up (Cheryll Gatewood)
During class meeting the students put up a thumb if they want to share news. We respond with sign language after news is shared so there isn’t any calling out during sharing time.

Morning Sing (Devon Davis)
We use sign language during our K-3rd grade morning sing program held on Monday and Wednesday. It engages the children and helps kids connect with the song’s language/words.

I’m Proud to Be an American (Mariposa Elementary)
For Veteran’s Day the entire student body sings and signs “I’m Proud to Be an American.” It is amazing! Representatives from the local and state level are there or send someone on their behalf.

Sign Language Telephone Game (Jeneva Smith)
Play the “telephone” game, but instead of saying it, sign it. Line everyone up facing forward so they are not looking at each other. The first person taps person number 2 on the shoulder and signs something. (Make sure the people further along the line don’t see.) Person number 2 signs to person number 3 and it keeps going. When the sign gets to the last person see how much it has changed.
*You can also play this game by drawing on each other’s backs.

Feeling Fine in Line (Brian Saloo)
My eyes are open wide. (Hands by eyes with fingers spread.)
My hands are by my side. (Pat hips.)
I’m feeling fine. (Thumbs pointing at self.)
Cause I’m standing in a line. (Sing standing by putting fingers on palm.)

Part II: Cause I’m walking in a line. (Walk fingers on palm.)

Thank You Cards (Terri Miller)
Take a photo of children signing “thank you.” Send the photo card to parents, volunteers, etc.

Here are a few more ideas the teachers shared last week.

Stinky Feet (Vonda Mellott)
Use number cards (or other flash cards) and draw a foot shape on several of them. When the foot appears the children pinch their noses and say, “Ooo! Stinky feet!”
*Adapt this game for seasonal fun.

December – add bells and sing, “Jingle bells, jingle bells…”
January – add snowflakes and sing, “Let it snow, let it snow…”
February – add hearts and say, “Be my valentine.”
Spring – use flower pictures and say, “Aw, so sweet!”

Peace and Quiet (Carol Serna)
To quiet the class hold both hands above your shoulders (like Winston Churchill) and make the “V” sign. Children “sign” it back to the teacher and are quiet.

Friendly Five (Jennifer Mattson)
When teaching tally marks explain that “5” is the “friendly five” because it gives the other four a hug.

Brain Yoga (Aimee Peterson)
Brain yoga is a powerful way to energize your brain. Check it out!