Signing with Books
Hello everyone! My name is Beth, and I teach TinyTalk Baby Signing classes in and around Wokingham, Berkshire. I’m very excited that Heather has asked me to do a guest post today! I’d like to talk about signing with books.
Before I became a TinyTalk teacher, I was a secondary English teacher and as a child an avid reader myself. I knew that when I had children books would always be a part of their lives. I didn’t realise how useful they would be in reinforcing what was to become another passion of mine and a big part of their world – baby signing.
As part of the TinyTalk term, every third week we have a signed book in class. It was attending classes as a parent and seeing how books can be incorporated into your signing routine at home that first intrigued me. So – how can you go about using books to help your baby sign?
Like baby signing in general, it’s not necessary to sign every word or even on every page. Choose a book that you and your child like. Perhaps it’s one with a lot of animals or one about bath time or even a touchy-feely one. Read through it with your little one, and use the signs you know as they are appropriate. I’ve done a video of myself signing a book we got in my son’s Bookstart bag called ‘Bedtime for Baby’. It’s a simple lift-the-flap book that can be used to learn or reinforce the signs you might use at bed and bath time.
At first, it’s better to sign only one or two things on each page. This reinforces key signs for your little one, and also allows you to build your signing vocabulary as you go along. Again, be led by your child. I remember quizzing my TinyTalk teacher and scouring the Internet to find signs for things like ‘octopus’ and other animals each time my daughter got a new toy or book. (I still haven’t found Tasmanian Devil – sometimes having Australian relatives leads to new challenges!!)
As your confidence and your child’s attention span grows, add more signs as you read. For example, in ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, you might only want to start with the signs for ‘eat’ and the numbers, but you could then add in the signs for the different foods, for sun and moon, egg, leaf, butterfly – whichever your child is interested in and adds to your shared enjoyment of the book.
And don’t forget that your library is a great resource. Our local library has a wonderful children’s section with a big open space where parents and children can find a book and settle down to browse as they like. And do talk to your Health Visitor or library about Bookstart for your own free Baby Pack, which includes two board books as well as posters and information on reading with your child. It’s a great way to introduce your little one to books and reading, as well as finding new authors and illustrators to add to your favourites.
Have a great time reading and signing with your little one!
I am a mother of 4, teach baby signing and also BSL level 2 qualified, love TKD and much more.