American Sign Language (ASL) for Early Literacy

ASL and Your Reading Program…

When learning a new developmental skill or a basic academic subject like reading, writing, or math, children have to first be able to focus or attend to what they are learning.  Helping children learn to pay attention and focus are important factors in school readiness.   Once they get to Kindergarten they will need these skills to learn.  Therefore, the question becomes how as early childhood educators and families can we help young children in developing their attention span?

It is important to understand the brain is a pattern seeking organ.  Therefore in order for young children to attend to their environment they have to be able to predict what will happen next, this is where daily routines are so important.  Creating morning routines or evening routines helps develop attention skills.

The brain also likes novelty; children will pay attention and gravitate towards new materials, toys, and centers/activities in their environment. Rotating toys and providing a variety of activities from time to time will help children develop skills to observe, attend, and will keep them in engaged.

At this point we like to use the vocabulary of American Sign Language (ASL) to keep children engaged. There are lots of signs you can use (while continuing to speak) to keep them involved with you, which also helps with the brain development. Signs like “apple”, “book”, “shoes”, “ball”, etc. A great resource we recommend is http://aslpro.com to find lots of ASL words and a visual on how the signs are made.

We also know from research by Abraham Maslow, that in order for children to focus they need to have their basic needs met.  Basic needs are things such as food, shelter, and feeling safe.  For instance, if a child comes to school without eating breakfast this child will have a harder time focusing and learning until lunch time.   Children also need to form bonds with the adults in their lives in order to have a sense of security and learn in their environment.  Activities such as giving a child a high-five, reading a story, singing, signing “I Love You!” and playing with the child leads to forming a strong bond.

The following videos will give you lots of ideas on how to incorporate signs into your daily routines.

Other things we can do to support attention are:

  • Using sign language, such as using the word ‘focus’ to help children remember to pay attention
  • Reading stories, while highlighting words in ASL
  • Music and Movement  especially linking to following directions like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • Helping children define boundaries by using “Brain Mats”
  • Keeping activities short than building up the time
  • Planning activities that are fun and engaging
  • Helping children learn strategies to focus by modeling, role playing, or discussing the best ways to focus and learn

Are you looking for even more activities to integrate ASL?  We have TONS.  Check out our teacher resource sites filled with wonderful ASL resources to use in your program, visit us at Teachers Pay Teachers.  Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Are you looking to learn more ASL?  Check out the Sprouting New Beginnings YouTube site and feel free to join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Or find us on one of our teacher resource stores.  Please visit Teachers Pay Teachers and have fun incorporating ASL into your reading program!

We love sharing the gift of ASL with others.

Happy Signing II

 

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1, 2, 3 Let’s have FUN with Numbers and ASL!

We all know what a great tool American Sign Language (ASL) is with supporting language and reading, but what about math skills?  1,2,3 so let’s have some fun using ASL with numbers!

ASL is fantastic for supporting children’s math and numeracy development. Integrating ASL into your math program supports development with identifying numbers, counting, sequencing, and matching.  

Research suggest that labeling numbers and letters using ASL finger spelling is beneficial for all styles of learners and stimulates and increases brain growth by strengthening connections and enhancing memory storage. Research has identified that all languages are coded and stored in distinct memory stores of the brain. When integrating ASL with the spoken and written word you are helping the children you work with create multiple storage areas.  This built-in redundancy of knowledge establishes multiple places for children to retrieve the information, therefore, enhancing their knowledge and skills.  

We recommend integrating ASL into your math program by incorporating it into activities like:

  • Rote counting
  • Link the numbers cards in order making a train
  • Identify the correct amount of objects to match the written number.
  • Sign the number as you say the number
  • Sign and spell the number using finger spelling
  • Sing number songs using ASL

Sprouting New Beginnings has wonderful resources integrating ASL and math so we would like to share one with you this month.  Linking Number & Words with ASL

Last but not least, is to remember as you are integrating a new ASL skill with your children don’t forget the four most important things:

Be Consistent

 

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

 

Model, Model, Model – even use ASL with other adults, show the children what you want from them and that this is a natural way of communicating

 

Above all, have FUN!

 

Want more? Check out one of our resource stores at Teachers Pay Teachers and have fun incorporating ASL into your math program!

Nursery Rhymes and Signing with ASL

Integrating Nursery Rhymes into your literacy program is a great way to support the brain with patterns and rhyming, which enhances children’s memory capacity.  As a college professor, I am privileged to work with wonderful individuals working in early childhood.  During class sessions, we have fantastic discussions about child development, developmentally appropriate practices, and how to help children with challenging behaviors. My students are hungry for information and knowledge that will enhance their abilities and skills as teachers.  

ASL Word Card

One strategy that we always talk about time and time again is using American Sign Language (ASL).  This incredibly versatile tool promotes language and communication skills, as well as social-emotional skills.  PLUS, when you integrate it into songs, nursery rhymes, and stories you are supporting early literacy skills. Supporting early literacy skills in early child care provides children with a strong foundation to be lifelong learners and we all know the power of nursery rhymes and their benefits for developing phonological awareness and exposing children to the rhythm of language.  Enhancing children’s memory capacity supports their working memory which in turn supports them in holding information long term as well as supports them in learning concepts like math and reading.

Nursery RhymesDid you know nursery rhymes are also great for other cognitive abilities like sequencing?  Since nursery rhymes have a beginning, middle, and end that can be recalled with ease they support the developmental skill of sequencing which in turn supports math skills. BUT wait, they are also excellent for physical development.  Reciting nursery rhymes gives the oral muscles a workout.
PLUS, having children act them out and integrating ASL gets their whole bodies involved.   It is no wonder we love integrating ASL and nursery rhymes into early child care programs.  Finding tools and resources that support the whole child, every child, like nursery rhymes and ASL create intentional and meaningful experiences for children.  Which supports the love of learning for young children.  

Starting this month we are going to provide you samples of our popular ASL resources… so this month we would like to give you a sample of Nursery Rhymes for Signing. This Three Nursery Rhymes for Signing Sample includes Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Hey Diddle, Diddle.  We hope you enjoy our newest resource and for a full version, visit our TPT store to get our Nursery Rhymes for Signing and don’t forget about our other popular resource, Songs for Signing too… this is another great tool for any classroom.

Remember as you are integrating ASL the four most important things to remember are:

1. Be Consistent
2. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
3. Model, Model, Model – even use ASL with other adults, show the children what you want from them and that this is a natural way of communicating
4. Above all, have FUN!

Want more?  Check out the Sprouting New Beginnings YouTube site and feel free to join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. We love sharing the gift of ASL with others.

Happy Signing II

Summer Planning Ahead

The other day I was speaking with one of my friends, another early childhood professional and we were talking about planning for next year and some the challenges she had been having last year with her class.  I asked her what strategies she has been using and she named about three really great ones.  However, she didn’t mention American Sign Language (ASL).

ASL is often overlooked as an early intervention strategy and teaching resource.  It is thought of as a wonderful way to support pre-verbal children learn to speak, but not as a way to support problem solving skills, self-help skills, social-emotional development and let’s not forget reading and math.  ASL is not just a great strategy for language development but it is also a wonderful strategy for encouraging positive behavior choices, helping children express their feelings in positive and healthy ways, and increase problem solving skills.

Not Just for Prevebal II

These ‘soft skills’ as many educators call them are essential for school and life success.  Take into consideration Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Children’s basic needs both physical and emotional need to be met in order for children to be able to learn.  The ability to learn and grow is in the upper tier of the hierarchy.  It is our jobs as parents and professionals to support these basic emotional needs.

Through my work with Sprouting New Beginnings, working with families and early childhood professionals we have found that ASL is a simple, effective, and fun strategy to support all areas of child development.

It supports the following domains:

  • Fine motor
  • Vision
  • Language development
  • Social/emotional development
  • Self-help/adaptive skills
  • Cognitive development

ASL supports the whole child, every child!  It is truly amazing that one gift from the deaf community can support so much in hearing children.  By simply adding 5 – 10 words in ASL into your classroom environment you will change your children forever.

 

If you haven’t embraced this gift and passed it on to the children in your life, then make it one of your professional development goals to learn how to use ASL in your program in 2016-2017 school year.

Sprouting New Beginnings has developed over 70 resources and we even wrote a book to support you in integrating ASL into your program and your work with young children.  We promise, this gift will change your life for the better. 

Over 12-years ago it was the greatest gift we ever gave to our own children.  The gift of communication!  Our bond is still strong.

So during the summer, check-out one of our resource stores, Teachers Pay Teachers or Syllabuy and have fun incorporating ASL into your reading program!  Remember we have over 70 different resources to help you with your summer planning and many of them are even FREE!

Are you looking to learn more ASL?  Check out the Sprouting New Beginnings YouTube site and feel free to join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. We love sharing the gift of ASL with others.

Happy Signing II

April Showers Brings…

April Showers Brings May Flowers!

This saying reminds us that the rain nurtures the flowers to help them grow and bloom, like we care and nurture our children to help them grow and develop.  April is wonderful month to celebrate children and the most important people in their lives. 

So we want to take this month to thank and celebrate the people who make a difference in the lives of children; both the families and teachers.  We but together some suggestions on how to celebrate through April.  At Sprouting New Beginnings, we love to bridge the family and classroom together, so we hope you can plan on taking a moment and doing something special for your families or for your teachers during this time. 

As a special note, we want to thank you for all you do for young children, you are truly a blessing and a treasure!

Classroom fun:

  • Host a young author’s night or afternoon tea.
  • Host a Family Night and have families create books with their children.
  • Have a parade!  Have children create banners, signs, and costumes and celebrate!  Everyone loves a parade!
  • Write a grant in honor of the children in your program.  Make your program even better by adding in new toys, outdoor toys, a sensory table, or entirely new playground.  Honor the children and the families that make your program special. 

Family fun:

  • Give a special gift to show appreciation for your child’s teacher or the teacher’s in your center.  Something handmade gift by your child will touch their heart and let them know they are truly treasured. 
  • Ask to sponsor a Spring Party and bring in cookies or cupcakes to the classroom. Everyone loves cupcakes!!

“Every child begins the world again.”  -Henry David Thoreau

April, is also Autism Awareness month and Child Abuse Prevention month   So please don’t forget to support these worthy causes!

 Autismimages

 

 

 

 

Last but not least April is the time we celebrate the Week of the Young Child™, which is the annual celebration sponsored by NAEYC… so here are this year’s activities:

Music Monday!   April 11, 2016
Sing, dance, celebrate, and learn

Taco Tuesday   April 12, 2016
Healthy eating and fitness at home and school

Work Together Wednesday   April 13, 2016WeekYoungChild
Work together, build together, learn together

Artsy Thursday   April 14, 2016
Think, problem solve, create

Family Friday   April 15, 2016
Sharing family stories

Have some fun and let’s celebrate April!

Happy Signing II

 

ASL Brings the Language Alive

BLOG

1. A regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

We’re glad you’re part of our BLOG family. As you know Sprouting New Beginnings specializes on posting ideas on how to incorporate American Sign Language (ASL, which is a gift from the deaf) into your lives and programs.

ASL promotes school readiness and success by developing early communication, brain development and literacy… so thank you for being one of our peeps! We hope you help us pass on the message too!

So for today we would like to talk about the high correlation between vocabulary size at age three and reading test scores at age nine.

It is not surprising to know that ASL enhances early literacy skills by supporting oral language development and increasing vocabulary, spelling, and reading skills.  Through increase student engagement during story time and intentionally teaching vocabulary words using ASL, students have an increased opportunity to work with language and use it in a variety ways. 

Not Just for Prevebal II

Research shows that ASL enhances pre-literacy skills and helps build the bridge of communication with pre-verbal children.  An effective intervention model for developing pre-literacy skills ASL is easily incorporated into all aspects of language development. 

We suggest using it during story time at home or in the classroom to highlight vocabulary words in the story, as well as to label, describe, and categorize words.Classroom LabelsSongs & Chants for Signing

Our philosophy is that using ASL as a strategy to support language development is beneficial not only for communication and literacy skills but also for all other learning domains; cognitive, motor, adaptive, social and emotional. 

ASL, being the third largest language in the United States, is easily incorporated into the daily routines of children.  It offers children the ability to build the bridge of communication with their caregivers while promoting a strong literacy foundation for their future.  Incorporating ASL into your daily home activities or literacy curriculum enhances children’s connections to language, reading, writing, and speaking.

Ultimately, it brings language a live!

Now for our commercial break…

A fun way to support oral language development is to using songs and chants.  This supports children developing their phonemic
awareness and introduces new vocabulary.  Children have fun playing with the language while building fine motor skills as they
sign, sing, and chant.  We’ve put together a collection of our favorite songs and chants for you. This can be found at one of our
teacher resource stores, please visit Teachers Pay Teachers and have fun incorporating ASL into your reading program!

TipFollow us on TpT to find all of our resources, plus we have regular sales for you to stock up on all those wonderful
resources we mention in our BLOG!  And bring your language alive!

Are you looking to learn more ASL?  Check out the Sprouting New Beginnings YouTube site and feel free to join the fun and
follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  We love sharing the gift of ASL with others.

Happy Signing II

Keeping Your Relationship Close

As our babies get older they start to pull away and those little ones don’t want to snuggle with us anymore, which just pull on our heart strings.  To keep that relationship close, start routines that build connections with your children. We compiled some fun ways to support the developing child.  They are not in any particular order but all of them will have benefits beyond the immediate and they are excellent ways to support the whole child, every child.

1. Read! One of our favorites! Snuggle up together and enjoy a good story. Children crave repetition of songs and stories because it is necessary for their development. (Guilmartin & Levinowitz, 2003) So be prepared to read that book over and over again. You are creating wonderful experiences that will last a life time for your child.  See #4 for a great tip to use when you read too.

2. Sing! We also love singing traditional finger play tunes and nursery rhymes as well as favorite songs from the radio. According to New Directions Institute, listening to music decreases stress, activates both sides of the brain, and increases learning capacity.

3. Play! Let them take the lead…this is a great way to find out what interests your child. Self-esteem is the single greatest predictor of success in school (Brooks, 1990). It is built when a child is invited to sing, move, or play in a group, and feels membership and contribution to group effort. (Snyder, 1997).

4. Sign! Use American Sign Language (ASL).  This supports communication development, which increases opportunities to bond by creating experiences that nurture and are warm and responsive to promote healthy brain development. The visual components of sign language create “an increase of brain activity by engaging the visual cortex and presenting an additional language to the young learner.” (Daniels, 2001) We suggest using ASL with infants as early as 6 months of age and continuing through their lives.  Don’t forget to speak your words too as this helps with those communication skills and use it while reading.  It’s fun to sign some of the words… it brings the story alive!

5. Laugh! Having a sense of humor and sharing it with your children is critical to a happy life and happy parenting. “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~ Charlie Chaplin  Knock, Knock jokes can be the best!!

6. Dance! It is great for exercise AND a healthy brain. Research done with children shows that movement stimulates brain development and draws on the multiple intelligence. (Kim, 1995)  We like putting on all that old time music… you know, from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or even the 90’s!!

7. Write a Love note!  You can leave them on their bedroom doors, in their lunch boxes, in the pockets of their coats, on the kitchen table, or anywhere that is special to you.  We don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to receive a love note!!

8. Creating specific family traditions like Friday night game night. Have a family meeting and find out what tradition everyone would like to begin, choose a day, and let the FUN begin!

9. Family Fun Dayswe LOVE Saturdays, check out our Family Fun Tips on Facebook every Saturday for ideas to engage the family.

10. Share special moments together. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~Antoine de Saint Exupery.

Remember, your children will remember the fun times they had with you… enriching their relationships will stay with them for a life-time!

LovePlay

 

Happy Signing II

Practicing Self-Help Skills and Introducing New Signs

Winter is still here, although some of us are hoping for a short one (personally I can’t wait for Spring…) so we still need to wear our winter jackets, mittens, and hats. That is if you don’t live in the desert, like some of us, but what a wonderful opportunity to teach the signs for clothes and having young children practice self-help skills that lead to developing fine motor skills such as:

  • Zipping
  • Buttoning
  • Dressing themselves

It is also fun to take pictures of your little ones in their winter clothes and create a book or use for a bulletin board display. Don’t forget to label with sign language to make it more fun!Snow

We always like to have activities, it helps keep everyone engaged and it is always fun too. Here are some great ones to during the winter!

For Families

1. Cuddle and read under a warm blanket or near a cozy fire.
2. Make hot chocolate, don’t forget the marshmallows.
3. Go up north and play in the snow.
4. Create a snowman using construction paper and other materials.
5. Make a paper snowflake.
6. Make a valentine for someone special.
7. Have a family game night.
8. Bake some warm, delicious cookies
9. Pop some popcorn and gather the together for a fun family movie night.
10. Build a fort inside with blankets and pillows.

For the Early Childhood Educator (families too)
Read – The Mitten by Jan Brett during story time and use the following signs.

Winter
Cold
Idea
Work
Family
Year
Love
New
Snow
Coat
Shoes
Pants
Mitten
 

Visit our favorite site for ASL signs, which are done in video: ASLPro

Cold

Create some fun Mitten activities
Materials: need different color mittens or gloves and a parachute
Targeted Skills: Reinforcing color identification, gross motor, and sorting
Directions: Have the children match the mittens by color, toss the mittens in the parachute, sign and say a color and have the children find that mitten.

To extend this activity for older children by making a colorful mitten sight word chart:
Completing the sentence with color word, “My mitten is ________.”

  • My mitten is red.
  • My mitten is orange.
  • My mitten is blue.

Remember, always have fun!! Using ASL during reading supports literacy and brain development and the children love when you bring the story alive!

For our classroom labels and more, be sure to drop by one of our teacher resource stores at Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook.  Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Happy Signing II

Rituals and Traditions-Fostering a Sense of Community

RitualsWelcome back to the exploration of the book, Rituals and Traditions, Fostering a Sense of Community in Preschool by Jacky Howell and Kimberly Reinhard. In our previous blog we wrote about the benefits that this great new resource highlights.  The book’s authors share many wonderful ideas to create rituals and traditions in your classroom.  So in this blog we would like to highlight three of our favorites:

1. Making mealtimes special – this idea is similar to a formal dinner in a family.  Think of a day, i.e Friday and a mealtime,i.e. snack time.  Now think of what can be added to the snack time to make it elegant or formal?  The authors suggest a tablecloth, real plates and silverware, and flowers or electric candles.   Get the children involved by giving each one a job.  Then have everyone sit at the beautiful table and enjoy a meal together. During your special meal facilitate a mealtime conversation.  You may consider creating a jar/box of conversation starters so you can choose a new conversation idea each week.  Some suggestions from the book are:
a. If any animal could come and live with you, what animal would you choose?
b. Tell us about a time you did something fun with your family.
c. What is your favorite thing to do in our classroom?

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2. Building a community through Breakfast Club – we LOVED this idea!  Does your program start the day with a healthy breakfast?  If yes, this is a great way to engage families and support positive transitions to school.  Breakfast Club is a simple concept, all you need is to add adult-sized chairs near your breakfast area and encourage families to join their children for breakfast. Teachers should also involve themselves in this time.  This activity strengthens relationships with families and children.  The authors state, “My relationships with families and their relationships with each other have blossomed.  It is family engagement at its best!”

3. Days-of-the-Week Rituals – many of us have routines around the calendar.  Creating rituals around this routine enhances learning by helping children have a greater sense of life’s structure and rhythm.  “Creating moments – rituals – that children can look forward to, count on, and predict make some of life’s unpredictable moments manageable and less scary.  When children understand that there is a beginning, middle, and end to days, weeks, and months they are likely to feel safe and secure.”  The authors suggest adding visuals to the calendar to help children understand that the event is unique to that day.  For instance, Monday is “Happy Face Day.”  On “Happy Face Days” there is a special event or center available for the children to work in that is special and matches the children’s interests.  It is marked on the calendar with a smiley face. The authors suggest starting with one or two rituals a week then move towards a special ritual for each day.  

The authors provide reflective questions and one that we’d like to leave you with is, “What routines and rituals do you plan that form the structure of the week? How can you create a special ritual to mark one or more days of the week?”  

Remember, we believe that repetition is the key to success.  “We are what we repeatedly do.” – Durant

This is our philosophy around integrating American Sign Language (ASL) into the classroom.   Through consistency, repetition, and dedication children learn ASL easily.  We have recently published a new training video, Why We Use ASL in the Classroom.  

Still looking for even more?  Try integrating ASL into your new rituals and traditions. We have created lots of helpful resources for you. Visit one of our stores at Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook.  Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  

Happy Signing II

Rituals and Traditions

We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday break. We certainly did at Sprouting New Beginnings! It’s always nice to have the opportunity to recharge ourselves, relax, & spend time with family & friends.  As many of us have gone back to school we might be noticing that our children have fallen out of routine. This is typical! So what is a teacher to do?Rituals

Over the holiday break we had the wonderful opportunity to explore the book, Rituals and Traditions, Fostering a Sense of Community in Preschool by Jacky Howell and Kimberly Reinhard. This book is published by NAEYC and empowers readers with creative ways to build rituals and traditions in the classroom. The book explores why it is important to develop rituals and traditions. It highlights three reasons:

1. Rituals and traditions connect communities
2. Foster a sense of belonging
3. Create a supportive learning environment

You may be asking, what is the difference between routines, rituals, and traditions?  In this book the authors describe routines as, “repeated, predictable events that are planned parts of the day, week, or month.”  Rituals are,”intentional ways of approaching a routine…” Rituals help children make deeper connections within our daily routines.  The authors define traditions as, “meaningful events or experiences that a class or program has created and that are expected to occur regularly.”

Integrating rituals and traditions into your classroom community provide value to both adults and children.  They help develop safe and secure environments along with teaching values, problem solving skills, and create a sense of identity.

We recommend this book to any teacher looking to strengthen their classroom community in the new year.  What are some routines that you currently do in your classroom? Is there a way you can transform a daily routine into a ritual?  Think about your children’s interest, songs or special books to get ideas. The authors offer an opportunity to reflect on your practice by providing questions at the end of each chapter.  One we’d like to highlight to get you thinking is: “What rituals and traditions do you remember from your own childhood?”Songs & Chants for Signing

In our classroom, the use of American Sign Language (ASL) is a ritual.  We intentionally teach words in a fun and engaging way through songs, stories, and games. This hands-on experience engages the children’s senses and is repeated several times a day.  Our children’s favorite way to engage in ASL is when they sing.  If you haven’t explored singing and ASL or are looking for new song ideas check out our Songs & Chants for Signing!

We will explore some of the wonderful and creative rituals and traditions from this book in a future blog.

Still looking for more?  Try integrating ASL into your learning centers or story time. We have created lots of helpful resources for you. Visit one of our stores at Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook.  We are having sales on all of our teacher sites starting on Thursday and running through this weekend too! Also, come join the fun and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  

Happy Signing II