By practicing baby sign language activities, you may find yourself able to communicate with your baby up to one year before he will be able to talk. By signing while you talk to your baby, he will pick up the baby sign language skills quickly. The more you use baby sign language, the quicker he will likely start to use it too.
By approaching baby sign language in a fun, easy-going way, you turn it into a game that he wants to play. I try to take advantage of everyday opportunities to teach my baby sign language and turn them into baby sign language activities. Below are five easy baby sign language activities and techniques that I recently learned in a beginners Kindermusik Sign & Sing baby sign language class and now do daily with my 10 month old. It’s easy to incorporate the heavy use baby sign language words like “more”, “all done” and “clean up” in all of these baby sign language activities as well.
(Go to the American Sign Language dictionary to find out the any signs you need to know)
In and out. My baby just learned how to put things in a container, so we’ve turned it into one of our baby sign language activities. Previously, I was doing all the putting in and he was doing all the taking out. Like most babies this age, he loves it and will continue to for some time. We use a shape sorting bucket but any container and bunch of objects will work. When he puts the objects in the container, I use the baby sign language sign for “in”, and when he takes them out, I sign “out”. I will use baby sign language to ask about the objects too. “Big”, “small”, “what”, “where”, and “see” are baby sign language words that are easily incorporated in these types of activities. Use baby sign language to incorporate a “please” and “thank you” too. I also use these baby sign language words when he engages in other similar activities like taking things in and out of kitchen cabinets, bookshelves, etc.
Hide and seek. You can use baby sign language to recognize how your baby’s memory grows. A very young baby believes that once he can’t see something, it is gone. Soon he realizes that it’s still there even if he can’t see it. Turning this new awareness into many baby sign language activities is easy. Hide a favorite toy under an opaque cloth or cover and ask using baby sign language “where” is the “bear”, the “keys” or the “ball”. You can ask is it “down” or “up”, “over” or “under” using baby sign language as well.
Where’s the light? Babies love light so it’s natural to incorporate it into amusing baby sign language activities. Using a flashlight, use baby sign language to sign “light” and use baby sign language to show when you turn it “on” and “off”. Encourage baby to follow the light by using baby sign language to sign “go”, “stop” and “here”. Talk about your baby’s feelings as you use baby sign language to say that you are “playing”, being “silly” and feeling “happy”. Shine the light on him and use the baby sign language signs for “baby” “boy” or “girl” then point the light at yourself and sign the baby sign language signs for “mother”, “father”, etc.
Play with music. Babies love music; hearing it and making it. My baby creates baby sign language activities involving music all day. He will push a pot lid along the floor as he crawls, bang two blocks together or turn and listen to a classical concert on the radio. These are all great times to use baby sign language. Although scraping a pot lid across the floor doesn’t sound great to us, it’s music to him, so I use baby sign language to sign “music”. When he gets his groove on, we use baby sign language to talk about “jumping” and “dancing”. We also incorporate baby sign language into our favorite nursery rhymes, like using the baby sign language words for “hot” and “cold” while singing “Pease Porridge Hot”.
Sign when reading books. Reading is a one of many one-handed baby sign language activities because one handed is needed to hold the book and one to make the signs. A baby’s attention span is usually about 5 minutes. When you pull out a book, use baby sign language to sign “book” and his attention might be captured a moment longer than it otherwise might. The same is true as you go through reading the book. Use baby sign language to talk about what you “see”, whether the characters and objects pictured are “big” or “small”, or if they are “silly”. Continue to sign although he might not seem to be paying attention, it’ll be worth it when he finally makes one of the signs you’ve been practicing through the baby sign language activities.