You don't have to be a professional to teach your baby sign language; there are many online resources that make sign language accessible for every parent. Make the lessons fun and exciting for your little one with these developmentally appropriate activities and free, printable worksheets.
Where's the Color?
One of the basic concepts any baby learns is primary and secondary colors. This printable worksheet pairs the sign for each color with the color itself to help parents teach the concept. The images feature a young boy and directional arrows to show a real-life example of each word in sign language. Download and print the handout by clicking on the image. Use this guide if you run into trouble. Then, you and your baby can practice pointing to a color before and after forming the correct sign for that color using this simple page. As your baby becomes more familiar with the colors, ask her to point out the right one after you make the sign.
Older babies and toddlers who are starting to learn numbers can use this fun worksheet to master the words "more" and "done" along with numbers one through ten. The simple illustrations show you how to sign each word and the lyrical chants make learning fun. This worksheet features two number chants, "More and Done" and "How Many?" which can be used to practice numbers or in any counting activity. Download and print the document by clicking on the image. Follow the directions for each activity to help your child master counting and the concepts of more and done.
Signs Around the House
Kids love making discoveries and going on adventures, so this scavenger hunt is fun for infants, toddlers, and even preschoolers. Pairing pictures with written words and signs helps little ones master more complex language skills and reinforces sign language learning.
What You Need
- Printed images of the words you are teaching with the word written under the image if possible
- Printed images of the signs for the words you are teaching
Steps to Success
- Choose about five words for concrete objects you want to teach or reinforce. Examples include milk, cookie, cereal, bib, book, bath, and toothbrush.
- Print out or draw an image of each chosen word, make sure the word is written under the image. If you chose milk, you want a picture of a milk carton with the word "milk" written under it.
- Print out a picture of the sign for each word. Attach the sign to your image either next to or under the picture and word. For the milk example, you would tape a picture of the hand motions for "milk" to your paper from Step Two.
- Hang each picture on the appropriate item in your home. If you have multiples of that item, hang a sign on each one.
- For younger babies, guide them around the house asking them to look for signs you've hung up. If they don't notice a sign, you point it out. Tell your baby the word, point to the object, and show him the sign for the word as you say it. Ask him what the object is and to tell you with her hands. For older babies, give them directions and let them lead you on a scavenger hunt around the house.
Teaching Tip: Make sure you are familiar with any signs you use before displaying them. Keep in mind you want to hang the words somewhere that makes sense to help your baby understand the signs using context clues. For example, if you include the sign for "milk," hang the picture on a jug of milk as opposed to the refrigerator door.
Fill the Container
Practice signing "more" and "all done" to gain an understanding of what each word means in this easy science activity. Using household objects you'll teach your child these important signs and help them discover the joy of science at the same time. Check out this handy sign language chart to see how to make the signs for each of these words.
What You Need
- Two or three containers of different sizes and shapes
- Enough smaller items to overfill each container like bath toys, medium-sized balls, socks folded up into ball shapes, or blocks
Steps to Success
- Put one container surrounded by all the smaller items in front of your child.
- Tell her she must add one item at a time to the container until it is full. She'll have to sign either "more" to add more items to the container or "all done" to stop adding items to the container.
- Allow your child to place one item at a time in the container, then tell you if she thinks more will fit or not using sign language. If she thinks more will fit, she signs "more" and puts one more item in.
- If she signs "all done," she stops adding items and you explain whether the container is full or not.
- Once the container is full, dump out the contents in a different area so they don't get mixed in with the leftovers and count how many items fit in the container. Hold up the correct number of fingers as you count and encourage your little one to do the same.
Teaching Tip: Allow children the chance to explore this science concept before and after the sign language game so they can be more focused on the task during the game.
Help older babies learn hand control and strengthen hand muscles to use in signing with this simple art activity. Display the pictures when you're done for a unique take on classic handprint arts and crafts.
What You Need
- Blank piece of paper
- Desk lamp or source of natural light
Steps to Success
- Place the paper on a flat surface and seat your baby with the light in the right spot to create a shadow of his hand on the paper.
- Choose a sign that doesn't involve hand movement, only finger formations, and demonstrate it. Ask your baby to copy the sign and hold it while you trace his hand's shadow.
- Trace his hand's shadow on the paper.
- Repeat with other signs on the same sheet of paper if possible. You can turn the paper in different directions to make room for more shadows.
- Ask your little guy to color the picture.
Teaching Tip: When possible, try the activity outdoors with chalk or water on the driveway or sidewalk to make it more exciting.
Speaking With Your Hands
Making sign language fun is fundamental to giving your little one a useful tool. Babies learn mostly through play, so games and activities are really educational lessons.