As part of an effort to keep our ASL skills and hoping to assist the next family that is hit with an unexpected hearing loss in their family, I run an American Sign Language playgroup for toddlers and preschoolers twice a month. Our church, Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church, kindly offers me the space to hold the group.
This month we are practicing ASL signs for clothing. I thought it would be a good outreach to make available some of the books and materials that I have found to help out others trying to practice and learn these same concepts.
I usually try to have the playgroup read some stories, play some games, sing some songs, and do a craft. We also sometimes watch a segment of Signing Time! or Baby Signing Time! videos (not to be confused with Baby Signs, which teaches some signs that are not ASL or are incorrect ASL.)
The following are some of the resources I have used in teaching clothing signs:
1. Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
This book involves Froggy trying to get dressed to play in the snow. Lots of clothing words are repeated as he puts them on, then takes them off, then puts them on again, in attempt to get fully dressed to play in the snow.
I just found a Lotto (Bingo) game for this book. This would be good for a little bit older kids. If I do Bingo type games I usually use a small Bingo Board (3 x 3) since I often have toddlers and young preschoolers in my group.
2. The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel, pictures by Nancy Winslow Parker
In this book, a girl gets dressed to play in the snow, then gets undressed to have a snack. The book is a rebus book, so the rebuses are the parts that I sign when reading the book.
1. When It’s Cold Outside —
2. One Shoe — This song is from Baby Signing Time!
3. When I Get Dressed — This song is from Signing Time!
4. My Hat It Has Three Corners
A simple way to practice the signs is to have each child place a beanbag on their head and try to sign one of the clothing signs while still balancing the beanbag. More advanced students might throw the beanbag in the air, sign the word, and then catch the beanbag.
I also use a beanbag toss game. I attach photos or graphics of the clothing onto paper plates. Children then throw a beanbag and whichever paper plate it lands on the child must sign the word for the clothing item.
In addition, I sometimes laminate small graphics of vocabulary, add a magnet to it, and use fishing poles with nuts attached to the line to fish for words. Whatever a kid catches, the kid signs.
I have found it very useful to look at English as a Second Language resources found online when searching for games and activities for my playgroup themes. Several ESL sites have worksheets, games, and activities involving the same themes that I use in teaching basic ASL vocabulary.