baby sign language

Get Up And DANCE!!

If your kids are anything like mine then they love to dance. I absolutely love the way toddlers dance! My son, now 17 months, loves to boogie to the music, he is always asking for the CD player to be turned on so he and his sister can dance. We taught him the sign ‘dance’ as soon as he started showing interest. He will now always make the sign whenever he wants us to turn on the music. The cutest thing happened with my son at a friends house. We were in her living room and my son kept pointing at her cabinet and wanting me to get something for him. I kept grabbing him books and I’d get a firm ‘NO’ each time. I then said to him, show me the sign for what you want, and he signed ‘dance’. I looked harder at the cabinet and saw behind tinted glass my friend’s CD player! I didn’t see it at first because the glass is a little dark. I’m surprised my son was able to see it. Thankfully we taught him the sign for what he loves to do so he could easily tell us what he wanted!

This is why I’ve picked the sign DANCE to be this week’s ‘sign of the week’


So why don’t you go throw on some music and boogie with your baby. As you are dancing be sure to make the sign for ‘dance’ and say the word as you are doing it.

Do you have any fun signing stories that you’d like to share? Leave them in the comment section! I’m looking forward to reading them.

If you are in Canada and are a fan of CBCs Dragon’s Den then be sure to tune in this Wednesday, Jan. 19th to see me pitch My Smart Hands to the Dragons!

Laura Berg
Founder, My Smart Hands
@MySmartHands on Twitter

Consistency IS the Key!

When signing with your baby the most important thing is to be consistent. I’ve had parents say to me, “I’ve been signing with my baby for months and have had no response.” I ask how often they are signing and they tell me, “I try to sign a bunch of things throughout the day… if I can remember.” Aha! That’s the problem, no consistency in their signing routine! How is your baby going to connect the sign to the word if they aren’t always used together? It will take your baby much longer to ‘get it’ if you aren’t consistent. I always tell parents to pick two-five signs that you are going to do EVERY TIME you say the word. It’s not for the baby’s sake, it’s for the parents. It is easy to remember to do two signs until you get in the habit of signing and your baby signs back. Once your baby signs back to you it will be easier to remember to show him signs because he will want to know them. It’s getting to the first sign that is the hardest for parents. Once your baby ‘gets’ that his or her sign means something and elicits a response then he will tend to pick new signs up faster.

So how do you begin? As I said in my previous post I always suggest starting with MILK this is the sign that is easiest to teach because it is such a big part of a baby’s life in the beginning. Make sure that every time you offer a feed that you sign ‘MILK’, say to your baby, “Do you want MILK?” really emphasizing the word MILK in the sentence. Then when your baby is drinking you can sign MILK and say to her, “you are having MILK” again emphasizing the word being signed. Also, you can take her hand and gently open and close it to show her how it feels to make the sign. When you do that, say in an excited voice, “yes, that’s MILK”.

So, what is the word for today?! CONSISTENCY! Be consistent when signing and you will have better results!

Feel free to post questions in the comment section, I’m happy to address readers questions in my blog posts.

By, Laura Berg
My Smart Hands, ‘educating young minds’

Yummy with a capital Y!

Tonight was girls cooking night in my house and my daughter decided we should make ‘Cauliflower Pie’ for dinner. This is a yummy dish that my mom used to make! Then she says to me, “Mom, we should teach Hartford (her little brother) the sign for ‘cauliflower’… how do you sign cauliflower??” I told her that it was fingerspelled but we could just say, “cauliflower starts with ‘c’ and show him the sign for the letter c” She thought that was a way better idea than teaching him how to fingerspell c-a-u-l-i-f-l-o-w-e-r 🙂

So for this post, I am going to show you the sign for the letter ‘c’

I am also going to share my YUMMY cauliflower recipe with you!

“Cauliflower Pie”

1/3 cups butter
4 cups bread crumbs
1 small cauliflower
1 small onion
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheese (I use mild cheddar but it’s really your choice of taste)

1. Melt butter in a large frying pan. Add breadcrumbs and stir until golden brown. **I normally use 1/2 cup as I like my crust more firm. Use 3/4 for the pie and save some for the top. **I usually make two smaller pies and freeze one.

2. cook cauliflower and onion until tender. Mash to make 2 cups

3. Smoothly combine eggs, flour and salt; gradually stir in milk.

4. Add cheese and cauliflower to milk mixture. Mix together

5. Bake in preheated 350 over for 35-40 min or until set and light brown.

**You could also add brocoli or carrots or meat or anything you like. This is a huge hit with kids.

I hope you enjoy as much as my family does!!

Founder and President
My Smart Hands, ‘educating young minds’

Is Your Baby Old Enough??

A common question I get is “When should I start signing with my baby?” The experts once said that six months was the ideal time to start signing with babies. However, after years of research we have now found that you can start signing as soon as they are born. It was once thought that babies wouldn’t sign before the age of six months so that was a perfect time to start. What we are now seeing is that babies are able to recognize signs before the age of six months and some will actually start signing at the six month mark. See this video of my son signing ‘milk’ at six months:
I started signing with both my children when they were 4 months because with both children I was in a newborn haze for the first 4 months and did nothing but watch ‘baby TV’ as we called it. My son started signing back at six months, my daughter at nine and a half. At eleven moths both of them had a signing explosion.

What MY answer to this question is, “It depends on your personality.” And what I mean by that is this, if you are the type of person that needs ‘instant gratification’ then I would wait until your baby was between six-nine months to start signing. If you know that you would give up if your child didn’t sign back within a few weeks then I’d wait a while. This is the number two mistake parents make when signing with their babies, they give up too soon! The number one mistake is being consistent. Check my next blog post where I’ll talk about how to sign and being consistent.

On the other hand, if you are the type of person who really wants to sign and will be committed to doing it until your baby signs back then start whenever you are out of that newborn haze! There is no time too soon or too late. If you have a 17 month old baby who isn’t talking much then introduce signs, it’s not too late! Children love sign language, even older children. If you have an older child you can sign the alphabet with him or her. It’s a fun way to introduce a new language!

The perfect sign to start with is ‘milk’ all babies have some form of milk whether it be formula or nursing. Here is the sign ‘milk’ to help you get started:

By: Laura Berg
My Smart Hands, ‘educating young minds’

Springtime SNOW?!

I was so excited to see Spring come. The date came and then the lovely weather last week. It was GREAT! We walked slower, enjoyed the sun and the warmish breeze on our faces, it was great. It’s that feeling that we are in the home stretch to Summer warmth. If you are reading this post from the Sunny US or other warm places then consider yourself lucky. All of us in the Northern region have had a long cold winter. But as we have come to realize today, last week was just a big tease. It may say it’s Spring on the calendar but Old Man Winter is apparently not going out without a fight! I spent my day today wet from the snow and sore from all that shoveling again. I am ready for this snow and cold winter to be over.

I thought that the sign of the week this week should be SNOW

I am hoping that this will be the last time this year that we will have to use this sign. I hope that the only time this sign will come in handy is when reading a book about the Winter.

Stay warm!
Laura Berg
Founder & President
My Smart Hands, ‘educating young minds’

Sign of the Week: Kids get hurt – parents have to deal

When I became a mom I realized the hurt you can experience when the child you love is sick or injured. It breaks my heart every time one of my children are sick or hurt. I wish that I could take all of their pain on myself so that they didn’t have to experience any discomfort in their lives. I am not looking forward to the broken heart of my future teenage daughter but that is for another post!

It being Winter now we have been getting a lot of colds and sicknesses in our house. This week the sign for ‘hurt’ came back to my five year old daughter when she couldn’t talk because she was trying not to throw up and she quickly signed ‘hurt’ in front of her stomach. I knew, with just that one sign, that her stomach was sore and she wanted me to rub it. She couldn’t talk at that time and request a tummy rub or she would have lost her lunch. I was able to know what she wanted and gently comfort her by rubbing her belly. The ‘thank you’ look in her eyes made my heart break for her and made me even more thankful that I taught her sign language at an early age!
Some parents don’t feel the need to teach the sign ‘hurt’. They feel that their child will simply point at what is ‘ouchie’. I thought this too but was really glad that I showed her hurt anyway. The first time that the sign ‘hurt’ really came in useful was when my daughter was about 11 months old. My daughter loved going bare feet in the summer, she hated shoes. When the weather started to turn cold it was always a battle to have her put her shoes and socks on. One day I was running late and quickly getting her dressed to get out the door. It was October and rather cold out. I put her socks on and was trying to put her shoes on when she started crying and fighting me. I was so stressed and mad because I was now late and fighting with an 11 month old over shoes! I won the fight and got her shoe on. Just as I was putting her other shoe on she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and signed ‘hurt’ over her toe. She had been pointing and pulling at her shoe but I though she just didn’t want her shoe on. At that point I took her shoe and sock off only to find a tiny little rock caught in her toe. It was clearly hurting her and I would have had no idea if it wasn’t for one little sign! It was for that reason that I was grateful that I taught her the sign for ‘hurt’. I never would have imagined that 4 years later that little sign would have been remembered and utilized by a sick little girl.

Signing is useful in so many ways, you just never know!

Laura Berg
Founder and President
My Smart Hands Inc, ‘educating young minds’

The Secret To MY Success

I am very excited have won the PTPA award and also to be the 2010 SavvyMom Mom Entrepreneur of the year award winner. When I started my business I hadn’t expected it to reach the size that it has in such a short period of time. My main goal with my business was to provide me with a way to stay at home with my children. It has since grown to another passion of mine. I absolutely love what I do and am happy to see the growth that this ‘baby’ of mine has had over the years.

I have discovered the value in social media as a mom entrepreneur. My first social media find was You Tube. I was able to make videos and post them which quickly made me one of the experts in the filed of baby sign language. Millions of people have literally watched my videos and seen the name My Smart Hands associated with baby sign language. My first video has had over 2.7 million view, my total upload views is over 8 million and I am in the top 50 most viewed Canadian uploaders on You Tube. Then along came Facebook, I started a group and this continued with my interaction with other people that are interested in signing with children. Then finally came Twitter, I have been slow at getting on to Twitter but have quickly realized the networking it provides.

As an entrepreneur it is imperative that you take advantage of these social tools available to you. See how you can utilize those tools to help grow your business. Remember when you are using these outlets that they aren’t for ‘selling’ your products but for building relationships. You’ll
build relationships in your online community of your potential customers or with other entrepreneurs that will happily support you and your brand if they have a sense of familiarity with you.

I am so honored to have received two amazing awards back to back. As a Mom entrepreneur I am excited for my hard work to be recognized by both the people who voted for me; and the evaluators that bestowed the PTPA award on my baby sign language program.

Will It Ever End?

This winter has been particularly cold and snowy! I am ready for it to be over. Not only am I ready for the warmth to come but I’m ready for the sicknesses, flues, runny noses, sore throats and coughs to be over. It seems like we have used the sign ‘sick’ in our house more this year than any other year. My son was extremely cute the other day when he finally got the stomach flu that had been traveling through my house. To give you the back story, when my daughter was out with this terrible flu she could hardly talk because she always felt that she would be sick if she did. She just kept signing sick over and over again (she liked the sympathy from mommy). Then my son got sick and was very lethargic, he was laying on the couch and I said to him, “Are you okay baby?” and he looked at me and signed ‘sick’ just like his sister had over and over again. I wish I had my video camera running because the cuteness level hit 10 that day.

Due to the yucky sicknesses we have been passing back and forth this winter I felt that SICK would be a great sign of the week this week.

Laura Berg
Founder & President

C is for COLD!!

I love living in Canada but admit that I’d love to ‘winter’ down south. I am NOT a fan of the cold. I need to repeat that… I am NOT a fan of the cold. I hate having to bundle myself up but much much much worse than that I hate bundling the kids up. It takes a good 10 minutes longer to leave the house on a winter day than it does during any other season. I don’t mean to complain, I really try to be a positive person but today is the first day that it feels bitter cold and it’s bugging me 🙂

Okay, enough about my complaining about the cold. The great part about winter is being able to sit in front of a fireplace to warm up. Drinking hot tea or chocolate and having it warm up your belly as it goes down. Beautiful white snow on the trees after a snowfall. There are great things about the winter, I am going to focus on those things!

In honour of today being the first bitter cold day I wanted to introduce the sign ‘COLD‘ to you. This is a fun sign to teach children because it is an easy sign for them to do and it’s funny at the same time. Both of my children loved doing this sign I think partly because I made a nice goofy face when doing it and it got a lot of giggles. Have fun with teaching this sign, make a nice goofy cold face, your baby will probably respond with giggles!

Have fun and stay warm!

New Blogaholic Laura! Let’s Sign with your Baby!

logoI am so honored to have such a well respected company and to have such amazing people represent my vision of My Smart Hands! Now I can share it with you! I’m one of the newest PTPA Blogaholics and I’m thrilled to not only be able to teach you the benefits of signing with your baby, show you my YouTube videos and share my Signs of the Week….now My Smart Hands is also a PTPA Winner!

My story starts when I was pregnant with my first child I wanted to find a way to stay at home with her but still have an income. Necessity being the mother of invention, I used the skills I had as a teacher and my knowledge of ASL and began teaching sign language to parents of hearing babies. My classes became so successful that I founded My Smart Hands, which has now grown into an international company

It started when I was working as an eighth grade teacher, running the literacy program at my school. The old program we were using wasn’t working so my principal asked me to try to find different ways to help our students improve their literacy skills. While doing research I came across a study that used the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet to help students develop their spelling skills. I was fascinated with this concept, it made complete sense. ASL encompasses a number of learning styles but specifically kinesthetic and visual. I took this theory to my school, designed a great curriculum and began to have success with it. This led to me lecturing for teacher education programs at universities on the concept of using sign language to help promote literacy in our schools. These lectures, I’m please to say, were very well received.

Further into my research I came across several articles and research studies on using sign language with babies. This concept fascinated me and it made me want to sign with my baby when I had one. The benefits of signing with children are far greater than simple communication (read more about this in our FAQ page).

This all lead me to the creation of My Smart Hands. With my background, teaching baby signing classes seemed to be the perfect fit! In 2005, while pregnant with my daughter, I began designing the My Smart Hands curriculum . After signing with my new daughter and seeing her learn ASL, I was even more confident that this was the right career path for me. I fine tuned my program, designed a manual with a CD to accompany it and opened up my company to other instructors. I wanted to give as many families as possible the opportunity to sign with their babies with help from a qualified My Smart Hands presenter.

Here we are now, several years later and My Smart Hands is an international company with nearly 100 instructors and growing every day! All of my instructors have unique backgrounds but we all have one thing in common, a love for signing! All of My Smart Hands instructors are required to have formal ASL training. We pride ourselves in being an educationally based company that will deliver fulfilling and exciting classes to the parents that take them!

Please check back each week to see my new posts on PTPA about signing with your baby! I’ll include Signs of the Week as well as some great songs! I’d love to answer your questions or see your comments!