We started using baby sign language with Mackenzie when she was about 6 months old and I think it was one of the best ideas we ever had. Not only could she understand us very early on, but she started signing back to us when she was about 12 months old…and to be able to understand what your child wants and needs that early on in life is really incredible. There were far fewer tantrums because we could understand each other right from the start.
I chose to use the ASL signs because I figured I was teaching my child and myself something that might come in useful later in life. No, I wouldn’t be able to form full sentences with that I’ve learned, but I might be able to at least help and understand what someone who can only sign needs. But really, the important thing when you’re signing is simply that you learn the signs and stick to it. Mackenzie still uses the signs now, even though I have stopped signing a lot of things (although I should probably still be using them since she clearly still likes them), and I tell everyone we meet about how great signing can be.
So today, I thought I would put together a list of resources that will help you learn signing (and teach it to your little ones) for free. I used a couple of books because there weren’t quite as many resources online at that time…but now, if you have a printer and some time, you can definitely create your own personalized course on a shoestring.
- Baby Sign Language.com is a fairly new site but they have some really fantastic free resources for parents. You’ll not only find a video dictionary (which is invaluable when you’re trying to learn signs from a piece of paper) but you can also get charts, flash cards and more for absolutely free.
- Signing Savvy — I consulted this site a LOT in the past and it is a fantastic resource for those wanting to teach baby sign language that is also the official American Sign Language. You can see all the signs via their video dictionary, check out their flash cards and even create quizzes for yourself to see how well you’re learning.
- My Smart Hands – A neat online video dictionary that can be a bit cumbersome to navigate but is probably the most helpful learning tool for baby signing available. And if you’re a tech junkie, you can get an iPhone app from them as well (which is not completely free but useful when you want to look something up.) Laura also offers a bunch of 15-minute videos for less than $2 each which will get you going in the right direction. Check out some clips from the videos here.
- Babystrology uses a flash baby to teach you signs (which can make it a bit difficult) but you can play a pretty cool flash game with that little baby to see how well you’ve been learning. They only have a limited number of the most important signs but the little baby is pretty cute so it definitely breaks up the monotony…and the flash loads quite quickly.
- WeeHands — This is a fairly new site and they offer courses and things like that as well (for a fee) but they have a good online dictionary that also gives good description of the signs and sometimes a tidbit that might help you learn the sign better.
- Sign with Your Baby Yahoo Group — A good forum with lots of input from people all over the world, from beginners to experts, who can tell you all sorts of things about signing and answer your questions.
- Babies and Sign Language — If you can look past all the google adwords, this page has some good information and links to lots of resources. Their articles on the left column of the page can be really helpful for those just learning what baby signing is and how it works.
- ASL Pro — This is the real deal and if you’re interested to learn even more advanced signing (like finger-spelling), you will find lots of good resources here. They also have a video dictionary, a few quizzes, and other free resources to get you learning. Unfortunately the people in the videos don’t really look like they are enjoying what they are doing, but I guess they’re just trying to be seriousness. You don’t need to look that serious when you’re signing with your kids — and you should talk when you’re signing the words too, just so they learn both!
- ASL University — Another good resource if you’d like to really learn how to sign, ASLU has 100 common signs for starting out, plus lesson plans and much more for those who either want to teach their kids or themselves American Sign Language to use on a daily basis.
- Do you know of a great baby sign language resource? Did you use another method to teach yourself and kids sign language? Tell us about it!
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