We spend a lot of time singing songs with hand motions to our babies and toddlers, so signing the alphabet while singing an ABC song seems quite natural. The great thing is that we do not have to have anything other than our hands to entertain our children. This is one of the most frugal alphabet activities I know of – All you need is your hands to sign and your voice to sing the alphabet. And you can do it anywhere! I often used sign language to entertain (and teach) my kids while waiting in line.
How to Use Sign Language to Teach Kids the Alphabet
I found that my kids loved watching my hands as I signed the letters along with an alphabet song. I think seeing a physical symbol of the letter helped them understand that the letter that they heard represented something more concrete. They learned to sign the letters long before they could write the letters with a crayon or pencil on paper. Many of the signed letters look very similar to printed letters, so this helps with letter recognition.
I have posted a video below which demonstrates how to make each letter of the alphabet in American Sign Language. Once you know the sign language alphabet, you can use it to spice up any alphabet song you want. Perhaps your child’s favorite is Alphapig’s Alphabet Song, or perhaps you join me in appreciating Lena Horne’s version of the ABC song. You can use sign language with a variety of ABC song’s to keep it fun.
Don’t expect your children to sign the letters. Let them just watch as you sing and sign. If they ask you to show them make the letters, show them a few at a time, keep it fun and resist the urge to quiz them on it. If you put pressure on them, you turn a fun learning game into an unpleasant experience.
Once my kids were older, they used sign language to practice their spelling words. Writing is very tiring for young children, so sign language allowed them to get in extra practice when they didn’t feel like writing words.
Have you used sign language with your children?