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Teaching American Sign Language to Hearing Children

Using American Sign Language with babies

I know that many parents use American Sign Language with their hearing infants. I did this myself, with my son (this was prior to the identification of my daughter's hearing loss.)

Babies and toddlers will usually sign earlier, and have a larger sign vocabulary than spoken vocabulary. Using ASL with babies and toddlers can help minimize some of the communication frustrations.

Select a small sign vocabulary (for example: milk, mommy, daddy, more, all done, pain, gentle, sleep) and use the sign every time you say the word.

My son started signing at about 10 months of age after two months of steady signing by mom. I used the suggestions in Toddler Talk by Joseph Garcia, the precursor to Sign With Your Baby

I've selected some resources to help you learn ASL and teach it to your child.

American Sign Language Videos

These videos are specifically designed for hearing children. Visit American Sign Language Videos for additional sign videos.

American Sign Language reference books can be found on the American Sign Language page.

If you see a general ad for Amazon, please refresh this page and the proper book information, including price, should appear.

Baby See 'N Sign
Video
Details: Color, NTSC, not rated.

From the Studio
We'd like to begin by saying what Baby See 'N Sign is NOT. It is NOT a video to convince you why you should sign with your child. I think there are plenty of products out there that do this very well. Baby See 'N Sign has been created to provide parents who have already made the decision to sign to their young ones and are looking for a product to help them accomplish this. Baby See'N Sign has been designed to do just that.

After a brief open and introduction by the instructor, the video compiles over 60 signs and images for you and your child to learn basic American Sign Language with. Baby See 'N Sign is loaded with signs for babies and toddlers, however, it shouldn't be viewed as a tape for just babies. It is an excellent educational tool for a variety of persons. It can be used to effectively promote communication with: Down's, Autistic, hearing, non-hearing, latent deaf, adopted children from foreign countries and/or those that are learning English as a Second Language (ESL students). It's also a great instrument for those that simply want to learn to sign, regardless of age. American Sign Language builds on itself, so starting out with basic children's jargon is a super way to begin to learn ASL for anyone.

Fairy Tale Classics in American Sign Language Vol. 1
Video
Details: Color, NTSC, not rated.

Description
Classic fairy tales are told in American Sign Language! They show parents how to tell these stories to their deaf children, they allow deaf children to experience the fairy tales in their own language and they show sign language students the beauty and creativity of ASL storytelling. Voice over is provided. This volume includes the following stories - Cinderella, The Wonderful Tar Baby Story, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Frog Prince, and Little Red Riding Hood.

Fairy Tale Classics in American Sign Language Vol. 2
Video
Details: Color, NTSC, not rated.

Description
Classic fairy tales are told in American Sign Language! They show parents how to tell these stories to their deaf children, they allow deaf children to experience the fairy tales in their own language and they show sign language students the beauty and creativity of ASL storytelling. Voice over is provided. This volume contains the following stories- The Golden Goose, The Three Little Pigs, Rapunzel, Rumpelstilskin, and the Ugly Duckling.

Fairy Tale Classics in American Sign Language Vol. 3
Video
Details: Color, NTSC, not rated.

Description
Classic fairy tales are told in American Sign Language! They show parents how to tell these stories to their deaf children, they allow deaf children to experience the fairy tales in their own language and they show sign language students the beauty and creativity of ASL storytelling. Voice over is provided. This tape includes the following stories: The Bremen Town Musicians, The Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, & Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Sign With Your Baby Complete Learning Kit
by Joseph Garcia
Paperback, Video, Quick Reference Guide
ISBN: 0966836707, Published by Northlight Communications, Package Edition.

Amazon.com Book Review
Sign with Your Baby Complete Learning Kit will enable you to communicate at new levels with your baby long before she can speak. This comprehensive package of book, video, and reference guide shows how simple gestures can communicate ideas like "I'm hungry" or "help me." Caregivers grasp baby's needs immediately rather than learn through trial and error. Dr. Joseph Garcia has designed the system so it's not necessary to learn an entire new language, although it also provides a terrific start in American Sign Language for a hearing-impaired child. A fascinating introduction delves into the development of language in children and uses informative line drawings to demonstrate over 150 hand signs for all kinds of actions and nouns. The accompanying video provides practical tips for getting started, some insight into the hows and whys of this method from Dr. Burton White (director of the Center for Parent Education), and inspiring sights of young babies signing effectively with their caregivers. The laminated quick-reference guide lists some of the most common words in any parent's day: cookie, no, and up are but a few. Garcia's clear, concise methods make learning a breeze, and caregivers gain outstanding new abilities to give the best possible care for the babies entrusted to them. --Jill Lightner

Signing Time: An American Sign Language (ASL) Video for Children
Video
Details: Color, NTSC, not rated.

Description
From their magical animated world, Alex (who can hear) and Leah (who is Deaf) invite infants and children to "Come sign with us!" Watch and enjoy as Alex, Leah, and their friends of varying ages share American Sign Language (ASL) with your child in a fun and playful way. Come join us for Signing Time! Research shows that babies can communicate with signs long before they are able to speak. And children have fun--and become smarter--learning a second language. Validating what their parents have long experienced first-hand, signing children have:

Fewer tantrums
Higher IQ scores
Larger vocabularies

By combining singing children and infants, delightful animation and music, and an adult to model each sign, Signing Time is sure to captivate pre-verbal infants and toddlers, as well as preschool-aged children while reinforcing these beginning signs.

Talking Hands
Video
Details: Color, NTSC, not rated.

Amazon.com Review
Kids gobble cookies, blow bubbles, open and close a box of dress-up items, even sit on the potty to illustrate some of the 31 hand gestures taught throughout this excellent sign language video. Much like a mini video "dictionary," teaching focuses on word recognition alone--not the alphabet nor on full sentence structure--and covers a smart variety of simple verbs and nouns (based on American Sign Language and Signing Exact English). The format is simplistic but highly effective, and keeps the action moving. After the word appears on-screen, an adult carefully signs and pronounces it twice. Then, scenes flip open like book pages or spin like revolving doors to reveal several real-life examples; for instance, "grandfather" fishes with his grandson, eats cereal, and reads a book. More hand gesture repetition, performed by a culturally diverse group of grownups and kids, offers lots of practice time. Probably best used in the home or in a hearing classroom, this visually and audibly appealing 40-minute show comes from the folks who created Parent's Choice award-winning Baby's First Impressions series. --Liane Thomas


Related Resources

CD Garden
"At CD Garden we design educational software that allows children to explore math, language, social, creative and problem solving concepts. No sound is needed to run our software. Hearing and hearing impaired children can learn to sign the alphabet in an enjoyable and easy to use format."

Production Associates
The producers of the Say Sing & Sign video series. All titles are available for purchase here.

Software for Deaf Children/Adults which includes ASL
Computer games and stories with ASL.

Teaching ASL to Homeschoolers
A short article about homeschooling families teaching ASL to their hearing children.


American Sign Language
Reasons to learn ASL and helpful resources: books, software, videos, web sites.

American Sign Language Videos
A guide to selected American Sign Language videos.


A child who can sign...is a child who will cause considerably less frustration for himself and his parents.
- Burton L. White




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