|Babies||Walkers to 2||2s to 3s||3s to 4s|
Overview and benefit
Over the course of 3 to 4 weeks, parents and babies will be taught a simple song with key vocabulary. Whilst singing this song they will learn the British Sign Language sings for the key words. Signing encourages a baby’s burgeoning communication skills and vocabulary as they are able to understand sign language and sign words themselves long before they are able to say them. This element teaches:
- basic noun vocabulary
- concentration skills
- simple signs
- the joy of communicating
Babies Day 4 Signing song
- Baby signing songs
- Laminated signing pictures
To allow children and parents to really start to learn the signs and songs, this would need to be done for the full half a term.
How it works
Babies and parents will be taught the signs for a couple of words a week using the singing songs. Lots of repetition will be needed to help them grasp the simple signs. NOTE there are alternative signs that classes use, so some parents may have already learnt a differing sign with their child at a signing class. If this is raised, just explain ask them to continue using the sign they have already learnt. That is perfectly fine! All the signs and actions for each of the songs can be found in the choreography notes at the end of this manual.
• Welcome to my home
• Animals 1
• Animals 2
• Baby’s Day 1
• Baby’s Day 2
• Baby’s Day 3
• Baby’s Day 4
What to do in class
Parents sit in a circle with their babies sitting or lying in front of them. Introduce the topic of the song and the key signs they will be using today. Show them the pictures of the signs and practice each one with them briefly. Put on the signing song and as you sing, display and demonstrate the signs. You might want to repeat the song to give parents the chance to really practice the signs. As parents become more proficient at signing along to the song, encourage them to make eye contact with their babies as they sing and sign. This ensures the baby knows they are being communicated with and are more likely to learn the words and signs quickly.
What to do in a nursery setting
Signing songs are all fully suitable to be presented in nurseries to either groups of babies or walkers to 2. Simply demonstrate the signs and lead the song from the front using visual props (flash cards or puppets) to help engage the children.
Note: Some franchisees successfully use the songs from woof woof as signing songs.
For smaller classes, you can use a single folder with the signing pictures at the front of the class. Simply hole punching a ridged A4 folder and securing with string or ribbon makes a simple flip chart which will leave your hands free for demonstrating the signs. For larger classes, you may want to consider making a set of flash cards for each of the songs so that each adult can use a set with their baby. Secure the cards by punching a hole and securing with string or ribbon so that they can be flipped over easily to illustrate each sign being demonstrated.
There a lots of variations on signs but our signs are based on the British Sign Language standards, however if an adult knows and is using a different sign than that being taught, don’t worry, just encourage the adult, to continue with their version of the sign and explain the class that there are many variations of these signs in use but as long as you are consistent with your own child, just use the one that works best for you.
All signing pictures and details of how to produce a sign are available for download from the intranet. We have also produced a training video showing how to produce each of the signs.
This song is another opportunity to develop language and communication skills, this time using British Sign Language. Make sure you brief the parents to maintain eye contact if possible and to sign to their child as we sing the song. If they have been to signing classes before, then do suggest that if the signs differ that they should use the ones they have already been learning. Babies are capable of reproducing the signs from around 9 months but they can understand their meaning long before. So this is perfectly appropriate for the younger babies even though they will not be able to produce the signs yet.
Class instructors can be nervous about this element as their knowledge of signing is limited. However they shouldn’t be – we are not claiming to be experts! If people ask you about other signs, it’s ok to say you don’t know!
In larger baby classes (more than 10) it can be hard for the parents and child to see the A4 sheets. It is therefore a good idea to produce and laminate smaller individual flash cards which you can give out. Don’t forget to cut off those sharp corners though. Pauline of MAD Academy Sutton makes up an A4 sheet of all the signs (made smaller to fit) which she prints and hands out to her parents in class so they can take them home and practice.
Talk through and demonstrate the signs you are going to be using before starting the song so the parents feel more confident. Remind the parents its important to say the word at the same time as doing the sign, particularly as most children in your class will not be hearing impaired.
Remember that if parents and children know other signs from other classes they attend, then that’s the signs they should use. Both Debs of MAD Academy Farnham and Trish of MAD Academy Reading, both point out to parents that there are lots of variations in signs, and that even different dialects can have slightly different signs. So don’t worry if parents use alternative signs – just ask them before you do the activity who knows some signs and let the know it’s OK to carry on using a different one.
If some parents feel a bit daunted or uninterested by the signing aspects of this element, remind them it is just the same really as any other song you do with actions – it’s just that the actions in these songs have a little more meaning.
If you need help working out what the signs look like for some of the animal signing song, check out the following videos: