We LOVE hearing your Signing Stories, and have reached out to our own instructors to hear their favourites as well! Here is a sweet story from our instructor, Dawna, who is located in Pickering Ontario (View Website).
Thank you for sharing, Dawna!
We adopted our daughter from China and she was 12 months, 2 weeks old when we brought her home. I started signing to her immediately. All the typical signs. Milk, mumma, dadda, girl, boy, food, good, bad, etc. One night, when she was about 15 months old, after rocking her to sleep, I gently put her in her crib. Of course she woke up and started crying. She stood with her arms up wanting me to pick her up. I said, “no honey, it’s bed time. You have to go to sleep.” Signing “bed/sleep”. She signed, as she was sobbing, “good” and “girl”. (I get teary every time I tell this story.) She was letting me know that she thought I was making her lie down because I thought she wasn’t a good girl. (Either that, or she was a master manipulator at a very early age!) That was it! I picked her up and cuddled her until she fell asleep again and I’ve been wrapped around her beautiful little finger ever since.
We would love to hear your signing stories as well! Send them along to RCDirector@Mysmarthands.com for your chance to be featured!
My Smart Hands Saskatoon is a program that teaches parents how to communicate with their children by using American Sign Language (ASL) signs. Our classes use ASL signs, as the research studies indicate that using a true language has more benefits that making up signs or gestures. We also, believe that ASL is a true language, and why not borrow this language’s signs to communicate with your child? Technically, you are teaching two languages. How neat is that?
Each week in our classes we cover a new and exciting theme! One of my favorite themes is ‘toys and objects’ as this week we play, explore and play some more. However, in all of the weeks, parents and children will be introduced to child development activities. Whole child development is very important, and is a key focus in our baby sign classes.
The whole child activities that we include in our classes focus on: physical, intellectual, social, emotional and language development. Here are some examples of how we promote child development and whole child wellness while maintaining the premise of ASL signs.
Physical (fine and gross motor skills)
In our ‘opposite’ theme we will bring out sensory boards and bins. These boards help children explore their world through various textile items. Parents are encouraged to sign, ‘touch’, ‘feel’, ‘look’, ‘rough’, ‘soft’ and much more.
Gross motor skills:
In our “animal” theme we will be going to the zoo and move as animals. This song and activity is a wonderful way for parents and their babies to move around the room, dance together, act like specific animals, and sign to the sounds each animal makes! Movement and music do promote a special bond.
A child’s social skills are being strengthened and encouraged in our classes. My Smart Hands Saskatoon, has small class sizes which are between 3 to 6 families. We keep our classes small, to ensure families get to know one another and their children recognize familiar faces each week.
All the parents and their children are welcomed to sit together on a shared foam square. Toys and easy to sign books are places in the middle to encourage play and exploration while parents are sharing their stories, asking questions and learning signs to be used in the following activity. We experience many first in our classes- first time a child signs, first crawl, first roll over and even have had our first steps!
Babies and toddlers are learning about their emotions and are not able to self-regulate. However, in our classes, we often discuss ways to help a child learn to self-regulate. This is done though song, movement and bouncing activities. Parents will also learn various ‘emotion’ signs during our last week together! We sign and sing, “If You are Happy and Know it” as well as “Happy Face Happy Face What Do You See?”.
Intellectual (Cognitive) Development:
Using ASL signs strengths and connects neurological brain connection. This means the activities that we use in our classes, increases and promotes intellectual/cognitive development.
An example of an activity is our ‘shake’ bottles. These bottles are often filled with water, sparkles, soap and water. Together, the parent and their child, shake the bottle and watch the changes. The specific brain development concept that is being learn is called, cause and effect. This activity is completed in our “toy/object” theme.
One main reason we keep our class sizes small, is that the children are able to socialize with the other children. Various child activities, promote social skill development such as movement and music. We sign and sing a version of “open shut them”, when children need to move about, which includes the sign “stop” for the English word freeze. All the parents and children have to “stop” until the music starts again. This song is teaching the social development skill of turn taking!
In short, language development is occurring during all of our baby sign language classes. Research indicates that a child needs to hear a word 200 times before verbally saying the word.
In all of our baby sign language classes, we are promoting the use of two languages! These are our verbal English and American Sign Language signs. Children are able to comprehend a single work though both auditory and visional learning. We never replace our verbal English, rather we support language development though using ASL signs
Please join us for a baby sign language class, and learn many more ways to promote whole child development!
My Smart Hands Saskatoon provides tips and ideas in their classes and workshops on how to incorporate signing into your day to day activities. Signing is meant to promote early and effective communication between a child (infant, toddler or preschooler) and their parent and/or caregiver. Baby and toddler sign language is fun, helps with routines and can help your day run more smoothly! Want to know more? We will provide a few ideas on how to bring signing into your day from the moment your little one wakes up to the time they close their eyes for bedtime.
Wake Up With Signing:
A great game to play when you first hear your little one waking up is ‘peak-a-boo’. From the hall way or your bed ask your little one “Where is mom?” Pop in from the hall way or poke your head out of the sheets and say “Here is ‘MOM’!” while signing mom. These small signing games will bring a smile to your little one as they will see you and begin to recognize then sign ‘MOM’ back. Plus, why not start the morning off with a fun game that teaches: words, signing and object permanence!
Signing can be used for your morning wake up routine. You can then decide that it is “Time to ‘CHANGE YOUR DIAPER’ as it is ‘WET”!”. Signing ‘CHANGE DIAPER’ has helped children to stay more still on the change table as they are watching and interacting with you and will try to sign back when ready.
‘BRUSH YOUR TEETH’ ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch, ‘BRUSH YOUR TEETH’. This Raffi song makes brushing teeth so much fun! Together you can ‘BRUSH TEETH’ while signing and bring music into your day.
Signing On The Go:
Stuck in Traffic? Are you hitting every light red? Are you traveling across the city to play group or baby sign class? This is a great time for signing and singing. Our favorite song to sign and sing in the car is the alphabet. Dream English is a wonderful site that promotes early language development and has simple songs that all children love. Or even bring your exclusive My Smart Hands’ CD to sign and sing about airplanes, old McDonald, twinkle twinkle little star or play it again! What a great bonding experience when you are in a car signing and signing with your child. Make sure your always driving
Are you in the grocery store shopping for the? I love signing with Elijah when we are shopping. Elijah will see and sign to fruit and veggies! We love to combine words to sign such as we see ‘ORANGES’ and will sign ‘ORANGE JUICE’, or asking if he sees the ‘PURPLE GRAPES’. We will often sign what we are looking for such as we are going to look for “BEANS”, oh here is the can of “BEANS”. This provides a visual image, ASL sign and verbal language. Such a wonderful chance for learning and communicating!
Follow your child’s lead. With which play are they playing? Are they playing with a big and small ball? Watch and start signing! Keep playtime fun with signing. Let your child know that they are playing with a ‘SMALL BLUE BALL’. If they are working with blocks, ask them to stack the ‘PINK BLOCK ON the PURPLE BLOCK’. Let them know that they are driving their ‘ORANGE BIKE FAST’. The signing that you can do during playtime is endless and so much fun!!
Bed Time Routine:
Signing is great to help with transitioning from meal time, to play time and finally bed time. Signing what your routine is every night will help your child to transition from playing to a more calm and relaxed state. We have signed our bedtime routine to Elijah since he was 4.5 months old. We would verbally say and support with signing that we will take a ‘BATH’, ‘BEDTIME SNACK’, ‘CHANGE DIAPER’, ‘MILK’, ‘READ A BOOK’ and ‘SING BEDTIME SONGS’. We have found when Elijah knows what is happening next the transition from one activity to the next is much easier (most nights)! Bring signing and singing into each of these transitions creates a fun and educational bedtime routine. Signing in the bath is so much fun. You can find foam alphabets and numbers, rubber toys and boats to make this time even more enjoyable and promoting learning and exploration. Also, when washing body parts, sign and sing “This is the way we wash your _______”!
We would love to hear from you other ways to bring signing into your day. Join My Smart Hands Saskatoon for a class and learn even more ideas and ways to bring signing into your daily activities. Remember the key is to be able to communicate with your child in meaningful ways!
I’ve been with My Smart Hands for over 5 years now. When I first learned about Baby Sign Language I did a lot of research into different companies and classes and decided that I loved everything about MSH and wanted to become an instructor myself. I had already started signing with my son, and really enjoyed taking him to classes with me while I still could. H always picked up on signs very quickly, his first at 6 months, and about 60 by the time he was 1 year. His first words also all consisted of the signs we were doing with him.
He is a very visual child, and loved looking at different letters or signs, and by 2 he started to ask him to read everything to him. By 2.5 he was already fingerspelling a handful of words. I was so proud! Everywhere we went he’d want to stop and read signs and finger spell along to them – it was amazing!
From there he started reading short books, and everything else he could come across he’d still try. It really was amazing.
I still remember H’s Kindergarden classroom visit the Spring before he was going into JK. While his teachers were both busy greeting other parents, he loudly read out ‘Be All That You Can Be’ which was above the chalkboard. Both teachers turned with amazed expressions on their faces that a 3 year old could read that – Talk about proud mamma moment!
I really do attribute the use of ASL to H’s advancements. Not only did it help us immensly when he was non-verbal as a baby, but helped him and his skills beyond that!
Here is a video of him at 2.5 years old doing some fingerspelling. At the end, you will see a sign he made up for his Cheesy Pasta (Mac and Cheese) The signs for ‘Cheese’ the letter ‘E’ and the sign for ‘Pasta’ – too cute!
With the summer months upon us, and pools opening everywhere, we thought it would be a good time to talk about a very important topic – drowning. It’s something no parent wants to think about, but it can happen faster than you could ever imagine.
Two summers ago I was at a pool party with a group of parent friends and their children. After getting my own child dressed I came out of the house to hear someone hollering to call 911, and my instinct was to leave my child with another adult and make a run for it. A 3 year old girl had slipped in the pool after her mother had turned her back for a matter of seconds to put something away in their beach bag. No one saw her slip in, and there were people everyone, including in the pool. Luckily someone spotted her and she was pulled out, but blue and not breathing. Between three of us we got her breathing again, and the paramedics cleared her and everything was okay. Had another minute passed without being noticed, it may have not been as lucky an outcome.
Drowning is Silent – What many people don’t know is that drowning is silent. There is very rarely any noise involved with it at all. No splashing or shouting.
Time is Crucial – If your child goes missing, and you are around water, look there first! Timing is everything!
Secondary Drowning – If your child does have a near drowning experience, it’s still very important to have them checked out. Secondary Drowning is something many people have never heard about, including this mother who blogged about her recent experience with it.
When having your child around water, wether it be the beach or a pool, never take your eyes off of them. For younger children, having flotation devices on them at all times can help add that extra step in safety. For toddlers, they should always be at arms length in the water. Talk with your older children about pool safety as well, remind them that they should never enter the water without a parent present. Taking these extra steps can help save a life.
We hope that everyone has a wonderful summer, with lots of time spend cooling off in the water, and we hope that this post is a good reminder to stay SAFE.
When my son just started teething I hit the web to find somewhere to order a wooden teething toy similar to what I had seen friends use for their babies. I loved the idea of something more natural in his hands and mouth over something plastic. To my delight I was able to find this awesome ‘I Love You’ ASL hand-shape wooden teether on Etsy! Just the other day I came across it again and thought I’d share!
If you are looking for a great teething product, I recommend checking them out! We loved it!
We love hearing Signing Stories, and recently had one of our instructors, Melody from Calgary, share this with us. Heartwarming!
I have a little story to share that is just so amazing!! A few years back
when I started teaching for MSH, I had a man contact me who was interested
in learning ASL. He had a granddaughter (in Toronto!!) who was having some
developmental delays. His son and daughter-in-law had begun signing with
her and when he went to visit, he wanted to be prepared to communicate
with his new granddaughter. Amazing, right? He wasn’t even living in the
same city!! What a great Granddad! Well I often wondered what happened
after he finished both my Level 1 and Level 2 classes…I just got an
email and with his permission I would like to share:
I moved to Toronto last December near my son’s house. I hope your signing
classes are still running and going well. My older granddaughter is five
now but still has very little fine motor control so a lot of her signs
look much the same. But her parents and the teachers at her school are
using picture cards a lot now – she has good understanding and will
usually point clearly at one card if there are not more than three
choices, sometimes four.
This is supplemented with yes-no questions which she answers by pointing
to “yes” and “no” cards since she can’t sign yes or no or even nod or
shake her head clearly. This gets like the old parlour game of “Twenty
Questions” but her Mom especially is getting good at zeroing in on what’s
wrong or what she wants to do. But she does still use signing and has
correctly notified her Mom the last three times she had a bladder
infection, by signing “hurt” and pointing. We keep signing to her to help
her with understanding her classmates – deaf or non-verbal – who are
signing to her.
My younger granddaughter is a “typical” child and has taken to signing
like a duck to water – starting when she was six months old. She’s 15
months old now and we find ourselves having little conversations with her
– e.g. playing with Granddad in the backyard; Mom comes out on the deck:
She signs “eat”. Granddad: no, it’s not time for lunch yet. She signs
“banana” Mom: no, you had a banana for breakfast. Etc.
Both the girls also sign to each other and seem to interpret better than
the adults. One will make a sign then they will both hoot and laugh but
the adult didn’t get the joke. Also both at one time or another have
alerted her parents that her sister has a problem they hadn’t noticed.
Thanks for my great start to baby-signing and I can verify with my
grand-kids it is bringing all the advantages My Smart Hands claims for it
and it’s made my older granddaughter’s hard wee life a whole lot easier
for her and us.
WOW!! I literally had tears while reading this!
Thank you so much for sharing Melody! What an amazing story, and Grandfather!