Winter Wonder and the Holidays

One of our favorite blogs was from a few years back and since we haven’t had a lot of time to post this year, we wanted to bring back some of the fun. 

No matter what you celebrate this time of year is always magical! The wonder of it all delights children (young and old) everywhere! During this time of the year we hear about the different traditions of the holidays but few know the meaning of them all, so we compiled a list of the most popular for you and we hope you will share with your family, friends and classrooms!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice!

Hanukkah

hanukkahHanukkah this year starts on December 24th, the eight-day festival of light, which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, and of spirituality over materiality. We found this really fun story about the miracle of Eight Nights of Hanukkah we would love to share. If you’re Jewish or not it is a fun way to learn out about the tradition and share it with your children. The Story of Hanukkah

Also, if you are an “Elf on the Shelf” fan but you are Jewish, you will love “Mensch on the Bench”!  It was created by Neal Hoffman and the story goes a few years back that one day his son, Jacob saw the “Elf on the Shelf” and asked his dad if he could get one.  Hoffman jokingly replied, “Dude, we’re Jewish. You can’t have an elf on a shelf but you can have a menschen on a bench.”  On that day, Mosche, the mensch on the bench was born and is now available to delight all good Jewish children everywhere. Click here to find your own “Mensch on the Bench“.

Christmas
Santa
The following week is Christmas on December 25th and most of us already know or have heard the story of Christmas, but of course we found this cute video as told by the children of St Paul’s Church, Auckland, New Zealand to share with you. The Story of Christmas, Part I  It’s BRILLIANT! And to go along with it, The Story of Christmas, Part II  We hope you take the time and enjoy the fun!

Of course, Christmas also means Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle and simply Santa! He is a figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins, who is said to bring gifts to good children on December 24th, the night before Christmas. However, in some European countries children receive their presents on St. Nicholas’ Day, December 6th. To read the official story of good ole’ St. Nick, enjoy the story from the St. Nicholas Center, it’s intriguing!

Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa
Unlike Hanukkah or Christmas, Kwanzaa is not religious by nature and the celebration, which is only a few decades-old, is widely unknown by most Americans. Whereas Christmas focuses upon Jesus, the central figure of the Christian religion, Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C. but Kwanzaa, celebrates a people. 

Kwanzaa, which comes from a Swahili phrase, “matunda ya Kwanza,” which means “first fruits”. This is a holiday that is predicated upon ethnicity. Kwanzaa was never about replacing Christmas or Hanukkah, but has its roots in traditions from ancient African festivals that were celebrated at the end of December and beginning in January. It is estimated by some to be celebrated by over 2-million Americans and about 28-million world-wide. Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days to stress the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles and starts this year on December 26th through January 1st. This is to introduce and reaffirm communitarian values and practices that strengthen and celebrate family, community, and culture. For more about Kwanzaa, here is a link to the official website, Kwanzaa, A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture.

Winter Solstice
Officially, winter begins this year on Wednesday, December 21st at 10:44 UTC, which is the Winter Solstice here north of the equator. It is also the shortest day of the year for us, 9-hours and 32-minutes of daylight but the good news is that the days start to get longer starting on the next day!

For thousands of years it has been a significant day of celebration. Approximately around 3,200 BC in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, people constructed an ancient temple now known as Newgrange in Ireland. It was built 500-years before the Great Pyramids and more than 1,000-years before Stonehenge.  One of the first places to mark the Winter Solstice, a narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor of the chamber, gradually extending to the rear of the chamber. It will last for 17-minutes and like in ancient times, people still today wait in the pitch-dark room for the illumination to occur on Winter Solstice.

Newgrange

We were lucky to visit one year and although not near the Winter Solstice, they did have a lighting to simulate the event. It was mind-blowing to think of the math and engineering feat that was done 5,000-years ago, to accomplish this event.

Pagans celebrated the solstice and it is still celebrated around the world in many places today. It was once celebrated at the Intihuatana Stone at Machu Picchu and in ancient Pakistan, the Kalash Kafir celebrated Chamos.  In Rome, the midwinter feast of Saturnalia fell at the time of the Winter Solstice and the Chinese celebrated Dongzhi to mark the time.  Christians saw some significance in the celebration of light and in rebirth, which was marked by the start of a new year and in Scandinavia, the Feast of Juul celebrated on Winter Solstice by lighting of fires, which symbolized the heat, light and life-giving properties of the sun. The word “Juul” is the source of the word “Yule”, which means Christmas as explained at TimeandDate.com.

Last but not least, we have to recommend you a few ASL signs for the Winter seasons for you to use.  As always, the best way to learn the sign is to go to our favorite ASL website, done in video at aslpro.

Winter Signs:

  • Winter
  • Cold
  • Idea
  • Work
  • Family
  • Year
  • New
  • Snow
  • Coat
  • Shoes
  • Pants
  • Mitten
  • Love (one our favorites)

2016-11-30_9-36-47

So to all of our friends, far and wide!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Winter Solstice!
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 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.  

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Supporting Self-Regulation with ASL

brain_developmentWe live in an amazing time of information, research, and knowledge.  Through early brain development research we are learning more about the brain at work.  We know that the brain is the least developed organ at birth and that 90% of the brain is wired up in the first 3-years of life.  That is 90% of our brains… Wired by 3-years old!!!

We also know that early experiences are critical to a child’s development and that structure and routine are essential to a healthy developing brain.  This research supports all the reasons why we encourage professionals and families to use American Sign Language (ASL).  The benefits are limitless!

BUT, did you know that ASL also supports self-regulation?  Through the continued research on the brain the early childhood field is learning even more about the brain at work.  We now are learning how the brain maps and creates meaning, stores information, learns, and the importance of executive functioning.  Executive functioning is the area of the brain where self-regulation occurs, our working memory is, and our ability to focus and attend.  Self-regulation is the ability to control your impulses, act in your best interest, and make choices that are mindful, intentional, and thoughtful.  

Brain

SO, how does ASL support self-regulation you might ask?   Through providing a tool for children to get their basic physical and emotional needs met.  When children as young as 6-months of age learn ASL they also learn to notice their needs whether those needs are physical, like being hungry, thirsty, or sleepy.  Or, whether those needs are emotional like feeling secure and loved.  Then through signing they ask for what they need.  Children’s brains are actively wired for communication at 6-months of age so their ability to communicate depends on the environment they are in.  If it is an environment that uses ASL they learn quickly to communicate their physical needs and as they grow and develop they learn to express their emotional needs with ease.

Funny story… One time I was in the laundry room and my 2-year old son who had been singing since he was 9-months old stomped in and said and signed, “Mommy, I am MAD at you!”  Then stomped away.  Instead of yelling, screaming, throwing a temper tantrum, or worse hitting me he was able to communicate with his words how he felt.  I was able to support him and help him through this feeling to find a resolution without the drama.  This by far is a healthier and more positive way to teach child how to handle their emotions.  

Children at the age of 2 start feeling emotions, however unless we label them and build their vocabulary they do not understand their feelings.  It is essential to label and notice when a child is having a strong feeling.  You can do this while they are expressing that feeling, or by more pro-active ways like reading stories about emotions, creating emotion books, playing games with emotions, or singing songs.

We love singing the song, “If You Happy and You Know It” while integrating ASL and other emotions.  We provided you this fun ASL resource to use at home or in the classroom, so feel free to download and keep!  It has the words to the song plus some recommended signs to use too!

Do you want to learn more?  Contact us and set up an in-person training or webinar for your group.  OR pick up a copy of our Sign, Read and Play: The School Readiness Collection book for 10 wonderful lessons designed around popular children’s stories to support children’s school readiness skills.  Our Sign, Read, & Play ~ The School Readiness Collection can be found on Amazon, Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s, Syllabuy, and Teacher’s Notebook.

Happy Signing II

 

 

 

 

 

Phonological Awareness – Who Knew??

Did you know phonological awareness is an important pre-reading skill that children can start learning from birth?  

According to the Every Child Ready to Read, Phonological Awareness is being able to hear and play with the smaller sound in words.  Children are exposed to phonological awareness every time they hear a nursery rhyme, hear a Dr. Seuss story, or singing songs.   

Another way to expose children to phonological awareness is by making up your own nonsense, silly rhymes.

To encourage phonological awareness skills with young children add in time during your daily routines to:

  • Play with word and sound games
  • Integrate writing into your daily routines, have children sound out the word and write the letter sounds they hear
  • Read rhyming books, like Dr. Seuss
  • Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes, we have an amazing resource that includes 18 of our favorite songs and chants called “Songs and Chants for Signing”
  • Use our NEW Word Family ASL Cards to play games, build words, and find patterns in words.

Phonological Green

Identifying phonograms or word chunks provide predictable patterns using the vowel sounds within words. Identifying patterns are important when learning to read. Since the developing brain is a pattern seeking organ, children will begin to recognize word patterns, which makes it easier when sounding out words.  

Children become strong, independent and confident readers by noticing these patterns that will help them decode new words. When exposing children to word families you teach the use of language patterns and enhance phonological awareness. Integrating these opportunities to hear and identify rhyming words through the understanding of word families will help children to learn to read. As well as integrating American Sign Language (ASL) finger spelling with the word families increases student’s ability to learn words by sight.

As the great Dr. Seuss said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Ultimately, read, sing, talk, and sign with your children and it will take them more places than you can imagine.   

Dr. Seuss

Remember early literacy begins at birth and the goal is for every child to be ready to read when they enter Kindergarten.  For more information on the Early Literacy Initiative visit: http://www.getreadytoread.org/.

Our resources around using the vocabulary or finger spelling with ASL help support phonological awareness skills by highlighting visual literacy, making books, and providing children the opportunity to interact with text & vocabulary.  To view our abundant resources please visit one of the teacher resources sites like Teachers Pay Teachers, Syllabuy or Teacher’s Notebook and have fun incorporating ASL into your reading program!

Happy Signing II

 

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year!!! Over the past year we have had the great opportunity to share our love of literature with children. So we thought we would share some of our favorite children’s stories that we’ve read this past year with you. These stories are not only entertaining, but also wonderful stories to sign to using American Sign Language (ASL).

You're WonderfulYou’re Wonderful by Debbie Clement
This book is a positive and beautiful book to share with children. It emphasizes that we are all wonderful and magical people. This is a beautiful book to read and sing to while adding in ASL. See it being performed by Debbie on YouTube: “You’re Wonderful” by Debbie Clement

 

 

Pete the CatPete the Cat, Old MacDonald Had a Farm by James Dean
Children love animals of all type and there are many stories around farm animals, zoo animals and more. This year, Pete the Cat, Old MacDonald Had a Farm is one of our favorites. The Pete the Cat series is popular with young children and has many books you can easily add ASL to. For this book our focus was on farm animals.

 

 

Bear Says ThanksBear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
The focus of this book is sharing and caring with friends and gratitude. This is a great book for introducing the ASL word ‘Thank you’ and teaching about the importance of gratitude and appreciation for our friendships.

 

 

Goldie LocksGoldie Locks and the Three Bears
Fairy Tales are wonderful for building phonemic awareness, sequencing skills, and introducing new vocabulary both for oral development and ASL vocabulary. Children need many opportunities to listen and read fairy tales.

 

 

My Daddy SnoresMy Daddy Snores by Nancy H. Rothstein
This is a funny book about how everyone in the family deals with dad’s snoring problem. The story takes you through the days of the week as each night the problem gets worse. This story is a wonderful book to highlight family words and sign the days of the week.

 

My M BookMy ‘m’ Book (A series of alphabet books) by Jane Belk Moncure
This series highlights each letter individually. Providing an opportunity to introduce ASL and emphasize each letter and it’s sound. Using literature to introduce the letters of the alphabet while including ASL enhances the learning experience and deepens connections for the learner.

 

I Love it When You SmileI Love it When You Smile by Sam McBratney
This is a sweet story about a mother and her son. Her son is in a grumpy mood and she tries many different things to get him to smile. In the end she gets him to smile. It is a wonderful story to talk about feelings and add in new ASL vocabulary like the word, ‘smile’ and ‘love.’

Fred Rogers once said, “I have always called talking about feelings “important talk.” Knowing that our feelings are natural and normal for all of us can make it easier for us to share them with one another.” This is a valuable skill and life lesson that our children need to learn in order to be successful in life.

Sleepy BearsSleepy Bears by Mem Fox
Sleepy Bears is a beautifully written and illustrated book about the adventures of dreams. Each bear in the family has a special rhyme that Mama Bear tells before they fall fast asleep that expresses their individuality. It is also a great book for introducing hibernation. We focused on the ASL vocabulary, ‘bear’ and ‘sleep’ while reading this story.

 

Ten LittlTen Ladybugse Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth
Counting, ASL, and literature are a wonderful combination. This is a fantastic book for counting backwards from 10. It also emphasizes rhyming patterns and is easy to sign to. You can add ASL number vocabulary and the word ‘ladybug’ to enhance the story.

 

Just Say PleaseJust Say Please by Gina and Mercer Mayer
Manners, manners, manners…these are important skills for young children to learn. Using literature is a fun and supportive tool for learning and using manners. Through this entertaining story children can begin to learn good manners. Our favorite phrase from the story is, “You dropped your good manners.” said Little Sister. This book is easy to read and easy to sign to using ASL manner words like, ‘please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘share.’

 

Pigeon Needs a Bath IIThe Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems
This is one of Mo Willems newest books and it is just as funny as his previous stories about Pigeon. It is a great story about personal hygiene and the fun of taking a bath. Add in the ASL vocabulary word ‘bath’ to enhance the story.

 

 

We hope you enjoy reading these stories with the children in your life in the upcoming year as much as we did.

As we ring in the New Year we’d like to say Thank You to all of you for impacting children’s lives!  Remember, “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” Chinese Proverb

Please download Free our Over Plus 100 Books to Read Before Age 8 too from our new Syllabuy store as our New Year’s gift to you.

Happy Signing

Happy Holidays with Winter Holiday Stories!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Winter Solstice!

No matter what you celebrate this time of year is always magical! The wonder of it all delights children (young and old) everywhere! During this time of the year we hear about the different traditions of the holidays but few know the meaning of them all, so we compiled a list of the most popular for you and we hope you will share with your family, friends and classrooms!

HanukkahMosche
This week, starting on the eve of December 16th is Hanukkah, the eight-day festival of light, which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, and of spirituality over materiality. We found this really fun story about the miracle of Eight Nights of Hanukkah we would love to share. If you’re Jewish or not it is a fun way to learn out about the tradition and share it with your children. The Story of Hanukkah

Also, if you are an “Elf on the Shelf” fan but you are Jewish, you will love “Mensch on the Bench”!  It was created by Neal Hoffman and the story goes a few years back that one day his son, Jacob saw the “Elf on the Shelf” and asked his dad if he could get one.  Hoffman jokingly replied, “Dude, we’re Jewish. You can’t have an elf on a shelf but you can have a menschen on a bench.”  On that day, Mosche, the mensch on the bench was born and is now available to delight all good Jewish children everywhere. Click here to find your own “Mensch on the Bench“.

Christmas
The following week is Christmas on December 25th and most of us already know or have heard the story of Christmas, but of course we found this really cute video as told by the children of St Paul’s Church, Auckland, New Zealand to share with you. The Story of Christmas, Part I  It’s BRILLIANT! And to go along with it, The Story of Christmas, Part II  We hope you take the time and enjoy the fun!

Santa
Of course, Christmas also means Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle and simply Santa! He is a figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins, who is said to bring gifts to good children on December 24th, the night before Christmas. However, in some European countries children receive their presents on St. Nicholas’ Day, December 6th. To read the official story of good ole’ St. Nick, enjoy the story from the St. Nicholas Center, it’s intriguing!

 

 

KwanzaaKwanzaa
Unlike Hanukkah or Christmas, Kwanzaa is not religious by nature and the celebration, which is only a few decades-old, is widely unknown by most Americans. Whereas Christmas focuses upon Jesus, the central figure of the Christian religion, Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C. but Kwanzaa, celebrates a people. 

Kwanzaa, which comes from a Swahili phrase, “matunda ya Kwanza,” which means “first fruits”. This is a holiday that is predicated upon ethnicity. Kwanzaa was never about replacing Christmas or Hanukkah, but has its roots in traditions from ancient African festivals that were celebrated at the end of December and beginning in January. It is estimated by some to be celebrated by over 2-million Americans and about 28-million world-wide. Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days to stress the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles and starts this year on December 26th through January 1st. This is to introduce and reaffirm communitarian values and practices that strengthen and celebrate family, community, and culture. For more about Kwanzaa, here is a link to the official website, Kwanzaa, A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture.

Winter Solstice
Officially, winter begins this year on December 21st, which is the Winter Solstice here north of the equator. The Winter Solstice occurs this year at 12:11 p.m. EST but will move to December 22nd next year. It is also the shortest day of the year for us, 9-hours and 32-minutes of daylight but the good news is that the days start to get longer starting on the next day!

For thousands of years it has been a significant day of celebration. Approximately around 3,200 BC in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, people constructed an ancient temple now known as Newgrange. It was built 500-years before the Great Pyramids and more than 1,000-years before Stonehenge.  One of the first places to mark the Winter Solstice, a narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor of the chamber, gradually extending to the rear of the chamber. It will last for 17-minutes and like in ancient times, people still today wait in the pitch dark room for the illumination to occur on Winter Solstice.

Newgrange
We were lucky to visit one year and although not near the Winter Solstice, they did have a lighting to simulate the event. It was mind-blowing to think of the math and engineering feat that was done 5,000-years ago to accomplish this event.

Pagans celebrated the solstice and it is still celebrated around the world in many places today. It was once celebrated at the Intihuatana Stone at Machu Picchu and in ancient Pakistan, the Kalash Kafir celebrated Chamos.  In Rome, the midwinter feast of Saturnalia fell at the time of the Winter Solstice and the Chinese celebrated Dongzhi to mark the time.  Christians saw some significance in the celebration of light and in rebirth, which was marked by the start of a new year and in Scandinavia, the Feast of Juul celebrated on Winter Solstice by lighting of fires, which symbolized the heat, light and life-giving properties of the sun. The word “Juul” is the source of the word “Yule”, which means Christmas as explained at TimeandDate.com.

So we hope you have enjoyed the stories of the winter holidays, and hope you participate and enjoy in one or more now knowing that they are all similar in celebrating a sense of peace, rebirth and happiness. It’s that time of the year that brings smiles to many faces!

Last but not least, we have to show you a few ASL few signs for the seasons, so from our friends at Signing Time, the Happy Holidays from Signing Time video on signing Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah!

So to all of our friends!!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Winter Solstice!

Happy Signing

Tis the Season…. to Capture the Moment!

The holidays bring a time filled with hustle and bustle, but also provide many opportunities to create rituals with our children. Whether it is baking cookies, crafting a memorable project, or singing Christmas carols, spending time creating these rituals instills comfort and unconditional love in young children. Creating holiday memories and rituals with your children provides them many learning opportunities to support their literacy and social-emotional skills.

One of our favorite projects is to capture little hands. This can be done in a variety of ways. Little hands can be traced, stamped, or pressed in plaster or dough. Then you can decorate your creation to make memorable holiday gifts. Let your imagination guide you and engage your creativity!

We have capture lots of ideas on our Pinterest boards, so stop by for some fun tips!

Along with rituals and special moments, holidays include a lot of time spent with family. Introducing family vocabulary in ASL is a great way to increase vocabulary during your routines and rituals. Stop by ASLPRO for videos on all the family signs….

Some of our favorite ASL signs are~

  • Family, Mom, Dad
  • Grandma, Grandpa
  • Cousin, Aunt, Uncle
  • Baby, Sister, Brother

And to make it fun here are some other ASL signs from our ASL Kids to learn for the holidays~

  • Bear, Box, Happy
  • Toy, Train, Please
  • Family, Good, Cookie

Bear, Box, Happy Toy, Train, Please Good, Cookie, Family

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!” ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

Happy Signing

A Time for Gratitude…

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” ~Zig ZiglarThank You

November is a time of gratitude and remembering the many things and people in our lives that make our life amazing. It is important to model gratitude and being thankful for what we have to young children in order to support their self-awareness and self-confidence. Thanksgiving gives us a wonderful opportunity to begin to model these important concepts to children.

A great circle time or dinner time activity to support the understanding of gratitude is to have the children pass a ball or some other type of object, around the circle while telling what they are grateful for that day. Each child will get a turn as the object is passed around the circle. This activity supports oral language development, turn taking skills, strengthens a child’s attention span, and is great for sensory input when you include a fun object to pass around, like a cute fuzzy turkey or a squishy ball. You may choose to model this activity by being the first person in the circle to hold the object and share what you are thankful for.

A Grateful Activity…
Creating a Gratitude Book is both fun and educational! All you’ll need is:

  • Paper typed with: I’m thankful for___________.
  • Pencils
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils

Directions
Give each student the thankful paper then have each child dictate or write what they are thankful for…. Then have each child illustrate what they wrote. Once every child has completed their page, bind the pages together to create a book.

Another fun activity is to make a friendship chain. What you need:

  • Strips of construction
  • Markers

Directions
Give each child a paper strip and have him/her write their name on the paper strip and one thing they are thankful for. Then staple or glue the paper strips to make the friendship chain and hang up in the classroom or around the house. To promote the development of ideas brainstorm a list of ideas first with the child(ren).

Some more inspiration quotes –

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John F Kennedy

‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding. ~Alice Walker
Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.  ~Aesop
Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Signing

Supporting Self-Help Skills

We love helping little ones get their needs met and providing them self-help skills is just the ticket!

Self-help skills are adaptive skills necessary for getting basic needs met and support children in becoming independent.  Skills such as eating, dressing, and personal hygiene are a part of independent functioning.  Creating an environment that nurtures and reinforces skill development in this area through practice and multiple opportunities to explore enhances autonomy.  Of course we suggest using American Sign Language (ASL) to enhance language skills and expressing their needs.

Some of our favorite signs to do this and based on age groups are:

Infants                     Eat – More – Milk – Change
Toddlers                   Toilet (Potty) – Brush (teeth) – Clothes signs – Shoes – Socks – Help – Bath
Preschool & Older   Please – Thank you – Comb (hair) – Wait – Excuse Me

Always continue using signs from previous age groups as children develop.

It is important to understand that each of the developmental domains is connected to support a child’s skill development. It takes time and practice to nurture these skills and help the child to become independent and feel successful. As a child’s receptive and expressive language develops along with their fine and gross motor skills children blossom and develop their self-help skills. Through this process children are also developing cognitive skills, such as problem solving and body awareness.

Activities to support self-help skills:
• Create a routine board to encourage independence using pictures, time intervals, and names of the activity to be completed
• Try Paper Tear art by creating a picture by tearing color construction paper and gluing it on to a white sheet of construction paper
• Do Finger Painting
• Washing babies by adding water to a sensory bucket or water table and provide opportunity for children to bath their babies
• Sing songs to support self-help skills, such as washing hands, going potty, and getting dressed…don’t forget to add in ASL to also support language development
• Read stories about getting ready, going potty, and being a big kid
• Create personal stories. These are personally designed books that encourage autonomy. Use your imagination and create a story to help your child learn a new skill.

Also note that little ones sometimes can not make the sign for Help, so the ASL community accepts little ones patting their chest like our friend Mason.

????

It is important to celebrate success with your child! Be silly, dance around, cheer, and create a special routine that celebrates your child achievements.

Above all have fun!

Happy Signing

The Wonderful Colors of Fall

As we start heading into Fall it is a great time to go outside and explore the wonderful world of nature with young children.  Take time to play in the dirt, pick up rocks, leaves, or pine cones (especially if you live or travel up north) and go for a hike or walk.  This is a great time to explore colors and connect them to nature. 

Some of our favorite Fall signs are:Fall Colors

  • Tree
  • Rock
  • Wind
  • Rain
  • Play
  • Red
  • Brown
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Yellow

 

Activities to enhance your Fall vocabulary:

  • Make a book about colors, choose your child’s favorite objects, i.e. foods, nature, toys and have them connect the color of the object to the color word.
  • Go on a nature hike and collect colorful items in nature.  Talk about what you see, feel, smell, hear, and taste (if applicable).  Connecting nature to the senses and the colors is a wonderful way to make an in-depth connection to vocabulary.
  • After your nature hike have your children bring back their treasures from nature and add them to an exploration center with magnifying glasses for a continued experience.
  • Paint outside with color water.  Use food coloring in water to make the water your child’s favorite color.
  • Collect leaves and use them for leaf rubbings.
  • Read stories about Fall and the changing of the leaves, i.e. Leaf Man or Red Leaf Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert or We’re Going On a Leaf Hunt by Steve Messenger.

Leaf Man

Also, don’t forget to visit Teacher’s Notebook or Teacher’s Pay Teachers for great color lessons and writing activities to support developing literacy skills. 

The Colors of Fall Dance

Here is a fun activity for you to do… Just gather us some colorful streamers of orange, yellow, red, green and brown crepe paper and then get out your music player and make sure you have some inspirational Fall classical music. Some suggestions include Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” or Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons”, here is a link to The Seasons, The Hunting Song for September.

Now follow these directionsRed Leaf Yellow Leaf

  • Give each child a different color streamer and tell them use their imagination and pretend to be leaves falling from the tree.  You may say to the children, “Watch out here is a strong wind and now little leaves we are twirling and floating to the ground.”
  • Before you get started you may read a story about leaves and fall colors such as Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert.  Then ask the children how do you think leaves fall to the ground fast, slow …?  You may also say, “Can you show me how leaves fall to the ground with your streamers”?
  • Now turn on the classical music and have fun watching your little ones dance around being falling leaves!

Happy Signing

American Sign Language and Your Program!

Incorporating American Sign Language (ASL) into your program and daily routines gives young children an opportunity to learn about another culture and community.   ASL is a visual language considered to be a gift from the deaf community. 

It is important that we help hearing children understand what that statement means, “A gift from the deaf community”.  ASL is a beautiful language used by people who are hard of hearing or deaf, partially or completely lack the sense of hearing.  This is a great teachable moment to connect learning to the five senses in how we use our five senses to learn about and interact with the world around us.  In addition, what happens when one of our senses don’t work.  Deafness is simply defined for a child by explaining that deafness is the inability to hear.  Mice Squeek

A great question to ask children in your program or at home is, “What are some ways you can communicate?”   On chart paper make a web chart with a circle around Communication in the middle of the paper.  Then record children’s ideas for the different ways we communicate.

A great book to support your discussion is Mice Squeak, We Speak by Tomie dePoola.  Another teaching tip to use with this story is highlighting vocabulary by teaching the signs for the different animals in the book.   

In the deaf community sign language is used daily as a way to communicate.  Did you know ASL is the third largest language used in the United States of America?  Sign Language is a living, breathing language.  Meaning sign Language is not a universal language.  Different countries use different versions of sign language. 

In the United States we use American Sign Language.   When learning about the Deaf culture/community and how ASL is used it is important to discuss the following:

•    Facial expression is important since ASL is a visual language
•    Using the signing box in front of your body
•    ASL uses hand shapes, so learn to finger spell the Alphabet
•    Sign language does not represent a spoken language
•    Sign Language has its own grammar, for example, when asking a question in sign language using who, what, where, why, or when, eyebrows are down and for yes/no questions eyebrows are up.
•    A “Sign Name” is used in the deaf community.  It is a special name that is given by someone that is deaf in the community.   A sign name is usually represented by the first letter in the person’s name and a sign that represents something about them.  Example, Brennen’s nick-name is Brennen-bear, so his name sign is the ‘B’ hand and then the ‘bear’ sign.
•    Accommodation devices such as a TTY.   An interactive and natural way to open the discussion on “What is a TTY?“, “What does a TTY look like?”,  and “How is a TTY used?“, is to sign the finger play “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” and mama uses a TTY device to call the doctor.  You may also choose to conduct some on-line research with your children to learn more about TTY devices and see what they look like.
•    Learn about the deaf school in your area.

Continue learning about the deafness and the deaf culture through books and other literature.  These stories will help young hearing children understand and relate to children and adults who are hard of hearing or deaf.  Here are a list of children’s books about children who are hard of hearing or deaf:

•    I’m Deaf and It’s O.K.  by Lorraine Aseltine, Evelyn Mueller and Nancy Tait
•    I Have a Sister, My Sister is Deaf  by Jeanne Whitehouse Peterson and Deborah Kogan Ray
•    Moses Goes to School by Isaac Millman
•    Dad and Me in the Morning by Patricia Lakin and Robert G. Steele
•    Let’s Hear It for Almigal  by Wendy Kupfer and Tammie Lyon
•    Max Learns Sign Language by Adria F Klein

There are many benefits to using ASL with hearing children to support the whole child, being exposed to another culture and nurturing cultural awareness is just one of the benefits.  We need model respect for the language and use it correctly.  It is important that signs are not made up and if you do not know a sign, look it up at one of our favorite sites ASLPRO.com!

We are truly grateful to use this beautiful, visual language to enhance our teaching and development of the children we interact with daily. ASL is truly a wonderful, treasured gift from the deaf community!

Guiding Lesson Questions:

  • What are our five senses?
  • How do we communicate?
  • How do you know if a person is Deaf?
  • What is ASL?
  • What is a TTY?
  • How is a TTY used?

Also, take a look at our video Why We Use ASL in the Classroom for even more reasons to incorporate ASL into your program!

Happy Signing II