Sign Language For Children & GAMES

Things You’ll Need

  • small snack food such as fish crackers or oat cereal pieces
  • water
  • milk


  1. First Signs

    • 1

      Seat the child at a the meal table. Don’t try this when the child is really hungry. Rather, reserve this as a snack-time activity to start with.

    • 2
      Ask the child “Would you like something to eat?” When you say the word “eat” pull the fingers of one hand together and hold the hand next to your mouth. Pretend you are eating an imaginary sandwich. The child will probably reach for the snack food. But repeat the sentence with the gesture. When the child makes any gesture, give her a couple of snacks.
    • 3

      Ask the child “Would you like more?” Make the sign for “more.” Hold all 10 fingers together and draw them apart, as if you were stretching a piece of silly putty. Repeat the question until the child puts his hands together. Then give snacks. Repeat both gestures with their words.

    • 4 Offer the child a sippy cup of water. Ask “Would you like some water?” While saying the word “water” hold up the first three fingers of one hand and brush them against your chin. Repeat the question with the gesture until the child touches her own chin  
    • 5 Repeat these signs for all meals for several days. When offering milk, make the sign for “milk.” Make your hand into a fist and squeeze as if you are milking a cow  

    Add People

    • 6 Create a sign for your child’s name. Keep it simple. It might be the first letter of the child’s name. Use the sign when talking to him  
    • 7 Use the sign for “mother”–drawing the thumb along the jawline when referring to her.
    • 8 Use the sign for “father”–holding the brim of an imaginary hat) when referring to him.  
    • Respond quickly when the child uses the sign for attention. The attention he receives is the best reward to reinforce this new vocabulary.

  • Begin teaching sign by singing the alphabet song while signing the letters. Most children will be intrigued by your hand motions and will pick up the signs easily since the song is one they are familiar with. Provide visual aids such as photos of hands signing each letter to help children make the correct hand shape. To reinforce the skill of finger spelling, make signing the alphabet song an activity that is included in every daily plan.

I Spy

  • When children learn a few more signs for color words, animals and household items, play a game of I, Spy using sign language. Be sure to be slow and deliberate with your signing, as children just learning to use sign will often get confused by fast signing. For more of a challenge for more advanced signers, make the I Spy game completely silent. Sign to only one child at a time, and ask that child to find the item you are spying and bring it back to you. If the child guesses correctly, it is his turn to provide the signs for the next child in line.


Sign Bingo

  • Play Bingo in the traditional manner, but use sign language to “call” out the numbers and letters. This activity reinforces children’s learning of basic finger spelling and number signing techniques. Learning finger spelling early will give children the means to communicate effectively in sign with hearing-impaired classmates and family members. Play a shortened version of the game with preschoolers, and allow each child the chance to be the “caller” as well as a Bingo player.

Sign Telephone

  • This game is similar to a traditional game of telephone, but the messages are passed along only in sign. This game is appropriate for children who have some prior sign language experience and knowledge. A teacher will begin by signing a simple sentence to one child in the class. That child will then attempt to pass the message along to the next classmate and so on until the entire class has received the message. The last child to receive the message will then tell the class what the message was. The results are often funny and can really demonstrate how messages, even in sign, can sometimes get muddled when passed from one person to another.

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