Today was my first attempt at using sign language during baby storytime. I teach the toddlers/preschoolers a new sign every week but for some reason I’ve always been hesitant to do it in baby storytime. I guess it is because in toddler and preschool storytime I’m teaching the kids where as with baby storytime I’m really teaching the parents (adults can be intimidating sometimes!)
I’ve been redesigning my baby storytime and thought this was the perfect opportunity to push myself. I did some research on baby sign language and learned a bunch of new signs.
There is so much amazing research out there on the benefits of teaching babies how to sign so I’m not going to delve into that here. Check out the Baby Sign Language website for some amazing resources!
I realized that if I wanted to incorporate sign language into my baby storytimes I really have to model to the parents how to use sign with their child. I wanted it to be natural and easy so here’s what I did:
- I learned a bunch of new signs and really practiced using them. (happy, mommy, daddy, grandma, grandpa, book, again, more, music, play, eat/food, all done, bird…)
- At the beginning of storytime I told the parents that I would be doing some baby sign language and that they could join in as they start to learn the words. I used this time to tell them a few of the benefits of using sign language with their babies (I plan on discussing the benefits very briefly at every storytime).
- I signed words as I spoke throughout the entire storytime. For example, when I said “I’m so happy you’re all here today” , I also signed the word “happy”.
- Between nursery rhymes I would say something like “that was fun, let’s do that one again.” And signed the word “again.”
- When it was time to read a book, I said “Now let’s read a book” And I signed the word for “book.”
- At playtime I signed the word for “play”, when I turned the music on I did the sign for “music”, when we were done with the toys I did the sign for “all done.”
You get the idea…
My goal was to repeat the signs often but still have everything sound and feel natural. I didn’t want this to be a strict sign language lesson but rather an example of how parents can easily add sign language to their normal interactions.
I was nervous about this but it went really well. The caregivers caught on and were joining in on a lot of the signs. I can’t wait to see if they start to remember the signs on their own! I wish I had tried this out earlier!