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Sign and Travel

» Sign Outside
» Sign at the Zoo
» Travel with a toddler; Quietly Entertaining

Sign Outside

*Go on walks outside. Sign about the weather, trees, plants, flowers, animals, people, and buildings that you and your child see. Stop to touch and look closely at objects such as grass, flowers, or animals when appropriate.

*At the playground, use signs for each of the activities, such as SWING, SLIDE, SAND, RUN, etc. While playing, use signs UP, DOWN, GO, STOP, JUMP, DIG.

*Use as many relevant signs as possible when going to fun places like the farm, zoo, or library. If you are not familiar with all the signs, try to make a reference chart or small book of the appropriate signs before leaving.

*Entertain baby at the store by signing foods and pictures that you see. Play a driving game with the cart where signer or baby signs START and STOP.

*Sign to baby when leaving and returning with signs OUT, CAR, BUS, HOME, SCHOOL, STORE, etc.

*by Love to Sign

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Let’s Sign!

Our philosophy at SignShine is that teaching our young ones to sign works best when it’s fun. And what’s more fun for children than a day at the zoo? If you were to ask the 16 families who participated in our See and Sign Adventure at the Zoo on April 18, the resounding answer would be, “Nothing!”

Our zoo adventure was aided by perfect weather and enthusiastic toddlers. The toddlers showed off their signing prowess with signs for a variety of animals, colors and food. For photographic evidence, check out the picture of our little Sofia signing “pink” to alert her daddy to the pink bird she spotted. We all knew exactly what she meant – a flamingo! Since cutting through the communication barrier that often frustrates toddlers is the ultimate goal of teaching our little ones to sign, Sofia’s signing is one example of the many successes that our group experienced at the zoo.

You may not know that humans aren’t the only ones at the zoo who sign. In many zoos around the world, zookeepers and chimpanzees communicate through sign language. One mom shared with me her very personal story of witnessing chimp-human communication. It seems that while she and her three and a half year old daughter were visiting one zoo, her daughter signed “apple” to a chimp to describe her snack. She and her mom were amazed when the chimp signed “apple” back. Was he merely showing off or asking her to share? We’ll never know, but it certainly is a memory that will long stick in the surprised toddler’s memory! Maybe with stories like these, we can prod the Los Angeles Zoo into joining the growing ranks of zoos that have discovered the benefits of using sign language with their chimps!

At SignShine, we were thrilled to get lots of positive feedback about our signing adventure at the zoo. Melissa, one of the moms on our outing, was representative of the views of those who joined us at the zoo:

"Dear Etel, THANK YOU for a wonderful day at the zoo! My little guy was thrilled to not only see the animals, but to also learn how to communicate what he was seeing with sign language, even though his signing vocabulary is quite limited! We hope to join you for the tour of the fire station; please let us know when it will be."

With encouragement like that, it won’t be long before we plan a return to the zoo. Stay tuned for details about the next zoo adventure, as well as a fun visit to the fire station.

*by Etel Leit

Quietly Entertaining

Have you ever traveled with a child? More specifically, have you ever traveled with a two year old child? It can be challenging to say the least. But it also can be very rewarding and entertaining.

The world offers many different facets to entertain your children these days. Take for instance the time my mother flew in an airplane and on both sides of her were mothers opening up their DVD players to their infants. I was shocked. At that moment, I was determined to try and entertain my child the old fashion way especially since I did not have the means of presenting my child with a portable DVD player and I had yet to introduce him to the world of television.

The problem was that I wanted this interaction to be as quiet as possible. Often my traveling would consist of flying in an airplane to see family. While many experiences in life do not carry a sense of pressure to be quiet, for me, flying in tight quarters did. With just my voice and a few books, I was able to come up with some letter, number, animal, and color games using sign language to help engage and entertain my child in quietly learning.

Flying in an airplane can some times be consumed with thoughts about “how many more minutes do we have until we land?” It can be rather intimidating. Have you ever heard the words, “your baby’s cry always sounds louder to you than it does to others?” While this may be true, no mother wants their child screaming in frustration in a place that there seems to be no way out. Especially when you are sitting with your almost two year old son on your lap, by the window, closed in by two strangers. Of course I am not saying that frustration will not come and go. That is inevitable, but quietly entertaining your child with sign language can really put both you and your child at ease.

What games can you play with books and signs? For the younger ones, the ABC signs can be really fun. Have a familiar alphabet book near by, sign a letter, and then have your child find the letter in the book. Applaud silently with the “applause” sign. This game could go on for quite some time is your child is determined to find all 26 letters. When he gets older, he can sign to you and have you find the letter. Add the sign “where” as well as “yes” and “no”, and the child will start to have more fun with the game. He may find humor in seeing you sign “no” as he purposely turns to the page with the incorrect letter. Feel free to sing along; what stranger minds a mother softly singing to her child?

Next grab a book with numbers. This same game described above can be played with numbers. Often just practicing your alphabet or numbers 1-10 without a book can be just as engaging. Choose a sign and have your child tell you what letter or number you just signed. You will be AMAZED how fast they learn.

After your letters and numbers, you cannot forget your animals and colors. For colors, sign “where” and ask your child where a certain color is on your shirt or his shirt. He may even start to ask you. Point to colors around the airplane and ask your child to sign the color. For animals, many books consist of stories about animals. Again, sign “where” and have the child find the page on which that animal can be found. What does that animal say? Even merely reading the book while signing really is a great way to help your child learn his signs and feel engaged in the story. Point to pictures in the book and teach new signs.

These are just a few ideas for quietly entertaining your child while traveling. Have fun with it. Do not forget about what is outside the window of the airplane: “water”, “clouds”, and “airplanes”. You can also learn about going “up” while leaving and coming “down” while arriving. Who are you going to visit? Is it “grandma” or your “aunt”? Make up your own games and let the learning, or shall I say flying, begin.

* By Shawna Tran, My Baby Details
Spokane, WA
Written April 28, 2006