September 4, 2007

Signing Time

Have you seen any of this Signing Time with Alex and Leah stuff? It is a huge gigantic hit at my house. I'd never heard of it, but when I went on a trip back in June, I needed something for Edward to watch on the hotel TV in the morning while I was getting ready, and I turned it to old reliable PBS, and this show was on--and pretty soon I wasn't getting ready anymore, I was watching the TV with Edward.

I don't know what it is about this show, but it's so mesmerizing, and its characters so likable, that our entire family is now learning sign language signs. Elizabeth has a speech/articulation delay, and the signs have saved us from several difficult situations already. She doesn't say the "ck" sound in words (she can say it separately), nor does she say the "r" sound correctly, so a word like crackers comes out more like "ah-ahs." She was working up to a blue fit over it until she learned to knock on her elbow while saying "ah-ahs": now we understand her immediately.

But that's not really the main reason we're learning it. The main reason we're learning it is that it's fun. Paul and I once tried to learn sign language (long ago, before we had kids), but we got so bored, and we didn't retain the signs very well. This show is different, and we find we remember most of what we learn. Well, especially because the kids want to watch the DVDs a billion times.

The show isn't on all the PBS channels yet, but the Signing Time site has a link you can click to see if it's in your area. You can also order the DVDs, either on the Signing Time site or on Amazon.com. BE AWARE: the first three DVDs have been re-released to match the later DVDs, so make sure you get the "revised edition."

My mom has a set of the flash cards and she says they're GREAT: glossy and wonderful and easy to use. Our library has three of the board books and they're great too: large for board books. I like the DVDs best, though, because I think the show is magic (um, not to oversell it or anything). The books and flash cards are good for reviewing what you've learned on the show.

Edited to add: the show/cards/books all use ASL (American Sign Language). Many "baby sign" programs use made-up signs and aren't intended for use after the child is talking competently; the Signing Time stuff teaches real ASL, the kind a deaf person would actually use. Children can talk baby talk in sign language just as they do in spoken language, but the show teaches the real signs and then shows a bunch of kids and adults doing the sign various ways, from a babyish version to a kid version to a grown-up/master version.

Also, the show teaches mostly individual words, not sentences.

30 comments:

Jess said...

This sounds like a really cool show, and I don't even have kids yet. Torsten and I are hoping to use baby signs with our kids, so this definitely sounds like it would fit right in. And it would be good for us to learn some stuff before the kids are actually here.

jen said...

my daughter has been learning the fingerspelled letters and numbers... kids are amazing. I told her once or twice, now she's always asking me if she's doing it right, and I have NO IDEA how she does this. She can do her whole alphabet now. Are they "real" signed english? Sounds like something fun for them. I only ask because my husband and I have a background in signed english and asl and I don't want to confuse the children, heh.

Swistle said...

Jen- OH! I definitely should have said, and I'm going to go edit it to say so: it's ASL. The creator of the show has a deaf daughter. It's not the made-up sign language a lot of baby-sign programs do; it's the actual ASL a deaf person would use.

Black Sheeped said...

ASL! That's neat. I always kick myself for not learning some ASL when I worked for a campus ADA program. It sounds like a very good show.

LoriD said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am getting these DVD's no matter the cost. My daughter has a friend whose parents are both deaf AND practically illiterate (they can write words, but not coherent sentences). I'm a big stressball every time my daughter asks me to arrange a playdate. The fact that these are ASL is amazing.

desperate housewife said...

Wow, this sounds really cool. And since my daughter is a TV addict anyway, she might as well be learning, too. Excellent.

tulipmom said...

I will definitely add these to my list of stuff to buy for the baby. Thanks!

Marie Green said...

We used baby signs with our twins and I cannot imagine parenting w/o it. My twins were early talkers, so it was good to diprove skeptical relatives notions that teaching them signs is going to delay speech. I think a child will either talk early or not, and teaching them signs won't change that.

It DOES reduce the stress factor so much though. We are teaching Marin signs now, and she already knows "milk", "more", "change" (as in diaper), "puppy", and "gentle". She can sign these ones to us. She also recognized a few more signs but is not doing them yet. Also, it provides such a window into their little brains! I can't believe, at 11 months, how much Marin understands things around her. It's so rewarding for both of us.

We use the "baby" signs, which are based on ASL but simplified for babies. Also, the book I had encouraged making up signs on the fly b/c the point is communication. I love the idea of a SHOW. I've heard of this show before, I think, but it was after the twin were past signing and the baby wasn't here yet. BUT NOW. Perfect! We'll be jumping on the Swistle band wagon once more! =)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, we found out my 10 mo. old niece is completely deaf, and my husband and I are having trouble learning signs.

Tessie said...

My university offered ASL as a foreign language credit, which I thought was so cool. I learned the ASL alphabet as a kid, and I STILL remember every letter.

Sweet Elizabeth shouldn't worry about not pronouncing her "r"s--BR doesn't either (Boston speech/articulation delay).

jen said...

awesome. I'm definitely putting these on the list then! :)

caley said...

Just wanted to second Swistle's recommendation for "Signing Time"- my son has the first two DVD's and we've been watching them since he was about 18 months old, though he easily could have picked it up earlier. We are big fans! He still loves watching them at 26 months, and still uses the signs, even now that he's talking all the time.

Sara said...

That is so intersting to me! We'll have to check it out!

Welcome to our World said...

Have never seen the show but I loved signing with my son. He still uses them when he gets super excited. He only learn about a dozen (MAYBE) words but it sure was cool to teach him that much! I will have to look into whenever we decide for baby #2!

Artemisia said...

One niece and one nephew learned to sign before they could speak. It is AMAZING how early they were able to communicate with us...

gabby said...

We are complete Signing Time junkies. I love, love, love them. Simply the best way to teach baby sign language!

melissa said...

I taught Deaf/Hard of Hearing students for 5 years so I know Sign Language. I taught my son simple signs such as please, more and all done. It really eases frustration in children who aren't verbal yet.

Doulala said...

I love Signing Time! A friend introduced me to these DVDs when the twins were 18 months or so (they are 4 and a half now). I have all six DVDs but I'm sure I have the older version. I didn't really care for the newer ones where she has the colorful tape or whatever on her fingertips. Too distracting. Other than that I think they are perfect!

Jen said...

Damn, it's not in my city. I love that my daughter can sign a few words, but am bad about putting the dvd we have into the player and pushing play. Lame, huh? I hope this show will come to Tucson soon so I can record it at will. Then we can watch it together and maybe I'll remember some of it. You never know.

JMH said...

I am a teacher and my "original" degree was in deaf education.(I taught deaf kids for about 5 years) I taught / used sign language with both of my kids when they were babies (6 months on up) FYI, there are 2 main forms of sign used in the US: ASL and SEE (Signed Exact English) Most deaf adults use ASL, but keep in mind that ASL's grammar is based on French grammar. Also, ASL does not use articles ( ex: the) and it does not have specific signs for the verb "to be" Here is an example: If you want to say "The tree is big" in ASL you would sign "tree big" You would need to use SEE to sign every word "The tree is big" So, if your older children want to know /learn all the signs for English, you may want to pick up a book on SEE to satisfy their curiosity. (ex; "Mom, how do you sign "the"?")

Sorry about the L.O.N.G. comment. If you have any more questions, I will do my best to answer them :)

Mommy Daisy said...

I stumbled upon this show a few months ago. My son doesn't watch much TV though, however, I was glued to it. I immediately got online and looked for more about it. I love it.

We started doing sign language (a few simple things at a time) when my son was a newborn. I distinctly remember around 3-4 months old I realized that my son was reacting to the sign for "eat" even without me saying it. I was totally shocked, but I saw that it paid to do it. By 8 months he started picking up a few signs himself. We have always used ASL, but my son alters them when they're too tricky. I know what he means, and I still use the correct signs to show him. At 18 months old, I'd say he can sign about 30 signs and recognizes many more than that. I just posted about all of that on my blog: http://mommydaisy.blogspot.com/2007/09/547-days.html.

I'm so happy to see so many more people excited about signing with children/babies. It's saved us a lot of aggrivation by having him sign so early.

MadMad said...

Sounds very cool; I've always wanted to learn. I had my kids do baby signs, which, as you pointed out, isn't the same thing, but it was nice to be able to communicate with them early on. I'd love to be able to sign to them to SHUT THE HECK UP, or STOP THAT THIS INSTANT, with only a small percentage of the world knowing what a shrew I was...

Omaha Mama said...

I might have to check it out. My 4-year old knows some signs because we taught her 2 or 3 when she was learning to talk and now her preschool teacher signs some during their lessons. Our Mason does the same 2-3 we taught Brenna, "more", "please", "drink". I think these videos would be a nice addition to our repetoire!

Joanne said...

Heard of Signing Time? We LOVE Signing Time around here. My 2 year old goes insane for it, we have like 20 of the shows DVR'd, it's almost all we watch. I bought the first book and dvd when my son was about 9 months old and we have never looked back. I love that Rachel, and her voice, and Leah and Alex too. My son, who is *not* a big talker, knows his alphabet, letters, can count to 20, and knows his colors from that show. I wish they did talk in sentences more because I feel like then he'd know that, too. It has really added to our lives around here. And the way he signs cracker is hysterical - he puts his arm WAY up and then pounds his chest. It's so cute! Squee! ;)

Rachel Coleman said...

Wow thanks for the great review of Signing Time. I smiled at "Signing Time is magic" We might want to use that in marketing LOL.

A couple of things... you can contact your local public tv stations and ask them to air it. They may be airing it and you just don't know it, so go straight to the source.

Also we are in the unique position as a om owned internet company where we actually receive and listen to our fans feedback. We do this through weekly chats on Wednesday nights
www.signingtime.com/chatroom 7-9PM MST
as well as our Signing Time Forums
www.signingtime.com/forums

We have new shows available for pre-order that include phrases such as:
"What's your name"
"My name is"
"How are you?"
"I'm Fine."

These new shows will ship in about 2 weeks.

P.S. Yep, Leah is my daughter and she is deaf. Alex is my nephew and he has been signing since he was 10 months old. And Lucy- the little girl you see in the wheelchair is my youngest, she has spina bifida and cerebral palsy.

www.signingtime.com/rachel

Swistle said...

Tessie- Boston articulation delay! Ha ha! He puts an r on the end of soda and idea, though, right?

Jen (Skyhawk/Warhawk)- Let's nag PBS!

JMH- That is VERY interesting--I didn't know that! I'll definitely keep that in mind if family interest persists around here.

Joanne- I love Rachel's voice, too! For some reason, it can make me tear up, if I'm having That Kind of Day.

Rachel- Oh, HI! Thank you for coming by! We LOVE you at our house!

Joanne said...

It makes me tear up too, totally. On the first DVD we got, there is a song that starts "How are you doing, little one, my little one..." Part of the lyrics are "tell me that you love me, tell me that you're thinking of me, tell me all about the things you're thinking, day and night both day and night. Tell me that you're happy and you love it when we're laughing" and I just - well, I'm crying NOW typing it, if that tells you anything. I know that my son thinks I'm insane. I'm glad to hear it makes someone else cry too. Crazy LOVES company!

Swistle said...

Joanne- Did you know the song "Show Me a Sign" was written for Rachel's daughter Lucy, before Lucy learned to sign? *WEEP* Also, the whole family episode makes me cry pretty much all the way through. Yes, I agree: crazy definitely loves company, because you notice I didn't say WORD ONE about this until YOU did!

Me Today said...

Thank you so much for sharing this program with us. Can't wait to catch it on PBS. I've also requested it from our library and told a friend about it as her daughter is infatuated with signing and wants to learn more.

Joanne said...

Okay now STOP it. That song is hard enough for me to get through! I had no idea Lucy was Rachel's, too. I love her little face.