Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Expanding on When The Bugs Come Marchin In

When The Bugs Come Marchin In
~ Signing Time Series 1 Vol. 8 The Great Outdoors ~

Featured in this song: 
Bug ムシ
Ant アリ        Fly ハイ        Spider クモ
Bee ハチ        Worm ミミズ        Mosquito カ
March マーチ

Caterpillar アオムシ        Butterfly ちょうちょう
Dragonfly トンボ        Ladybug テントウムシ

Lyrics for Signing Time Songs Vol. 7-9 - including When the Bugs Come Marchin In

Don't want to wait for a DVD or CD to arrive? Get the Great Backyard video with the Kotoba & Sign Digital Player!

Rachel and the Treeschoolers:
Incredible Insects
Did you know there is a Rachel and the Treeschoolers episode dedicated entirely to learning about insects? Incredible Insects includes information about how to tell if something is and insect and why insects are important. Through songs, dance, signs and stories, children are engaged in active learning.

Each Treeschoolers DVD comes with a CD and downloadable activity guide designed to expand on the information covered in the DVD. 
The Treeschoolers are a great addition to your homeschool or preschool curriculum!

Books and other things in the Kotoba & Sign Amazon Store

More song fun!!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

New Treeschoolers - Happy, Healthy Me

Two Little Hands has released the newest Rachel and the Treeschoolers episode Happy, Healthy Me.

While I do sell these products and use some of these materials in my classes, let me share about Happy, Healthy Me from the standpoint of a mom.

I have a 4 year old and a 7 year old. This series is aimed at preschool - early grade school kids so they are in the target audience. The Treeschoolers series is created in a way that younger and older kids also enjoy the music and information that is covered.  

While this is not an exclusively signing DVD it does include some ASL vocabulary as a learning tool. For baby signers like my kids this is great because it helps them to keep fresh the signs they've used over hte past few years while also building their vocabulary. For kids who are new to signing this is a chance to get started on a 2nd language without rote memorisation and in a fun way.

The topic - Happy, Healthy Me - is a broad one. The DVD touches on key points which are expanded in the Activity Guide. I can see us singing some of these songs to help us remember the lessons we've learned. 
The Scrub song is great for while washing hands. My kids can get so dirty some days and honestly seem not to see the dirt until I point it out. The DVD explains what germs are and why we use soap.  This is something I can tell them 1,000 times but it seems more likely to stick when coming from a different source - like a cartoon doctor.
Another challenge is getting the kids to "eat a rainbow".  While my 4 year old understands that idea, my 7 year old has an interest in how each specific food in the rainbow helps his body.  I now have another resource to help him understand!
With the kids growing and wanting to be more independent they often try to push the boundaries of safety. I can see pieces of The Safety Song being sung while they play as a way to remind each other of what they should be doing!

These are just 3 of the topics included in the DVD. After you've watched it with your kids leave a comment and let us know what parts are helpful for your family!


The structure of Treeschoolers lends itself well to homeschooling, after schooling, use in a daycare or school. The accompanying guide has over 60 pages of activities and information you can use to expand on the DVD.  It includes 5 Activity Sets, printable flashcards and the lyrics for the songs. 

If you are in an area where English is a minority language, like us, it can be tempting to use any materials you can find just because they are in English. Many are sadly lacking in educational value. Treeschoolers is packed full of "the good stuff" so you can make the most of what little time you may have for learning in English. 

Treeschoolers is also great for families who limit screen time. An amazing amount of useful information is packed into a time slot that other shows would use to convey just 3 points. The easy access to the music and Activity Guide means that you don't have to keep watching the video many times to learn the material.  The songs inspire kids to get up and dance so we have a playlist on the iPod for that purpose!

Inspired? Curious?

Download Happy, Healthy Me today!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Expanding On Right Place, Right Time

Right Place, Right Time
~ Signing Time Series 1 Vol. 8 The Great Outdoors ~

Featured in this song: 
Beaver Lodge at
 Game Lake
Porcupine ヤマアラシ
Raccoon アライグマ
Deer シカ
Bear クマ
Owl フクロウ
Skunk スカンク
Beaver ビーバー
Wolf オオカミ
Eagle ワシ
Fox キツネ

Baby Signing Stages

 There are some stages most babies follow when learning to sign.  If you haven't seen it, experienced it, it can be hard to comprehend just what those stages look like. Here are some video clips that may help.

Step one - Notice that people are signing

Step 2 - Respond to the signing

Step 3 - Beging moving hands in purposeful ways

Step 4 - Use single signs to communicate

Step 5 - String signs together to communicate

Step 6 - Begin to say the words being signed

Step 7 - Speak and sign a lot!

Expanding On Did You Know?

Song: Did You Know? 
~ Signing Time Series 1 Vol. 7 Leah’s Farm

Featured in this song:

squirrel りす
duck アヒル
rabbit うさぎ
snail カタツムリ

Lyrics for Signing Time Songs Vol. 7-9 - including Did You Know?

Don't want to wait for a DVD or CD to arrive? Check out the Leah's Farm video with the Kotoba & Sign Digital Player!  Just click here!


Activities, Worksheets & Crafts
Duck Theme
Squirrel Crafts
Rabbit Theme
Snail Theme

Keep the learning going with Books and other things in the Kotoba & Sign Amazon Store!

Baby Sign Language & Bilingual Families FAQ Part 2

Heidi has been teaching bilingual/multilingual families to communicate with their infants and toddlers using sign language (ASL) vocabulary for over 5 years. She is also the mother of two "signing babies". In this series of blog posts she shares answers for some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Read Part 1 here.

Q4. I have heard that signing can be a bridge between spoken languages. What does that mean? 
      A. Perhaps the best way to explain this is by giving an example. In our family we speak Japanese and English daily.  When we sign we use the same set of signs with all the spoken languages. My husband will sign "apple" when saying "ringo" I sign "apple" when saying "apple". This helps our kids to see that both spoken words have the same meaning. Normally kids figure out the meaning from context of the spoken language and repeated exposure to the use of the word. Adding a sign helps to speed up this process when learning the meaning of a spoken word in an additional language. In our family we also sign with our minor languages. Signing has helped my kids to build their German vocabulary faster than if we had not signed.
    Signing when learning two or more languages it not only something infants and toddlers benefit from but something that older kids and adults can benefit from as well. The STAR School 3-to-3rd Project has created a video which demonstrates how signing can be used in a bilingual school setting. 

Q5. I've been signing with my child but my child is not signing back. When will she start to sign? 
      A. Each child develops at his her own pace. It is important to provide sign often and consistently. A rule of thumb is to sign whenever you say the word. At first it may take some time to get into this habit so placing flashcards in a useful location and listening to songs you can sign along with are two good starting points.
     The age and developmental progress of the child is also an important factor.
0-5 months old - Most babies don't have enough hand control at this point to sign but they will begin to watch when people sign and make connections between words and their meaning. Look for a baby to become excited when seeing a sign or to turn away from the sign. Just because a child cannot create a sign/word yet does not mean the child doesn't understand the meaning.
6-9 months old - During this time the ability to intentionally move body parts increases greatly. Some babies will begin to sign, others will react when signed to. This is often an exciting time for parents because their children grow and change so quickly!
9-12 months - If you have been signing with your child for a month or more this is the time frame in which you will most likely see your child's first sign. Keep in mind that first signs rarely look like what an adult would sign simply because the child's hand control is still developing. Pointing, waving  clapping etc. can all be first signs when used in a meaningful way. Signing babies will often move their hands around "babbling" just as they use their mouths to make various sounds. The practice helps them to gain the control needed for when they are ready to sign to communicate.
12-15 months - Individual rates of development are perhaps the most evident during this time. I've had students who regularly use 30-40 signs a day at 12 months as well as students who are just starting to respond to signing at this age. Consistency and repeated exposure to signing is key. Sign when speaking, reading books, playing, singing... the more you sign the more your child will learn to sign.
15-18 months - What a fun time! There is an era of language explosion which often occurs during these months. Signing and speaking often increases by leaps and bounds. These toddlers reach a point where they can see/hear a word once and then will try to use it. It can be challenging for caregivers to keep up but it can also be a very rewarding time as the ability to communicate increases so quickly.
18-24 months - Toddlers love to talk and have many clear ideas but can't always communicate those ideas effectively. They can absorb signs quickly and use them to create 2-3 word sentences. Their creative ability to use the signs they know to communicate is a joy to watch.
24+ months - There are so many continued benefits that I'll have to make a post specifically related to that!

Q6. Are there children who don't learn to sign? 
      A. Normally developing children all sign eventually. We rarely think "My child will never wave good-bye" or "What if my child doesn't learn to point?" Being an "early" or a "late" signer is nothing to worry about. It just is what it is. I've never had a student who couldn't sign - it is just a matter of time until they are ready to sign.  It can be a challenging for parents who don't see signs yet and some parents do give up signing. I encourage them to hang in there and watch for their child to react to the signs they are using. Some kids seem to be waiting to learn the signs for their favorite things. I had a student who didn't use the clothing signs with her child, choosing to focus on manners instead, but when the child started signing the first signs were all about clothes! This is a reminder to use all the signs you know because you don't know what will spark your child's interest.
     While there are a few situations in which a child can not learn to sign those situations are extremely rare.  Signing has become a key part of many speech and therapy programs for children facing a variety of challenges. In some cases signing has given a child a way to communicate when conventional medical knowledge expected that child to never be capable of communication.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Expanding on Leah's Farm

Song: Leah's Farm 
~ Signing Time Series 1 Vol. 7 Leah’s Farm

Featured in this song:

farm 牧場
chicken   鶏    yellow 黄色
horse 馬  brown 茶色
goat ヤギ  white 白
mouse ネズミ
rooster 雄鶏 red 赤
sheep 羊 black 黒
cow 牛
donkey ロバ
pig ブタ pink ピンク
turkey 七面鳥
1, 2, 3

Lyrics for Signing Time Songs Vol. 7-9 - including Leah's Farm

Don't want to wait for a DVD or CD to arrive? Check out the Leah's Farm video with the Kotoba & Sign Digital Player!  Just click here!
If you like Leah's Farm you may also enjoy Rachel & the Treeschoolers Awesome Animals too!


Activities, Worksheets & Crafts
Montessori-Inspired Farm Unit
Preschool Farm Pack
1+1+1=1 Farm Printables

On Youtube
Old MacDonald Had a Farm
Leah's Farm 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Baby Sign Language & Bilingual Families FAQ Part 1

Heidi has been teaching bilingual/multilingual families to communicate with their infants and toddlers using sign language (ASL) vocabulary for over 5 years. She is also the mother of two "signing babies". In this series of blog posts she shares answers for some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Q1. What is Baby Sign Language? 

       A. Baby Sign Language is using sign language to communicate with hearing babies before they can speak and toddlers during the time when they are learning to speak. I like the term "baby signing" since we aren't using a complete sign language.
       Baby Sign Language is not limited to ASL (American Sign Language). It is a term used for a combination of signs used with a baby specifically to communicate during the preverbal & early verbal times. It is sometimes based on ASL, sometimes based on other sign languages and sometimes made-up gestures. Some of the well known resources include those by the US-based Two Little Hands makes Signing Time & Baby Signing Time which uses ASL. Baby Signs is a US-based company with many branches around the world. Their signs vary from country to country so it pays to do some research and look into which set of signs a program uses and why. ベビーサイン, for example, is the Japanese counterpart and teaches a mixture of ASL-based, JSL-based and made-up signs. Using a "real" sign language offers many expansion opportunities as well as creates a foundation for future signing.
The main point of any baby signing program is to help caretakers communicate with infants and toddlers. Look for resources which match your learning style and sign language of choice.

Q2. When is the best time to start signing?

       A. Today - Whatever today is. The sooner you start signing the sooner your child will be able to respond to the signs and eventually sign back. It is never too late to start!
       If you don't have kids yet you can get a jump start by learning to sign now. Since sign language is a real language used by many people every day it is a useful life skill to have.

Q3. Which sign language should I use?

       A. That is a good question - and one I cannot answer for you.  Here are some things to consider:
 - What is the native sign language used in the local Deaf community?
 - What spoken language(s) are you using?
 - Are there sign language resources available to you?
 - Do you want to follow an already established program or attend a class?

Sign languages are separate from spoken languages with their own grammar, vocabulary and regional variations. For example, American Sign Language and British Sign Language are two different languages but the English spoken in the US and in Great Britain are variations of the same language.
ASL is a popular choice for baby sign language because of the wealth of resources. It is also a common 2nd language for native signers of other sign languages around the world.

Expanding on My Great Backyard

My Great Backyard
~ Signing Time Series 1 Vol. 8 The Great Outdoors ~

Featured in this song: 
backyard 裏庭 奥庭
explore 探検する
tent テント
trail ハイキングコース
bridge 橋
stream 小川
woods/forest 林 森
mountain 山

Lyrics for Signing Time Songs Vol. 7-9 - including My Great Backyard

Don't want to wait for a DVD or CD to arrive? Get the Great Backyard video with the Kotoba & Sign Digital Player!  Click here!

The Bear Went Over the Mountain
Over the River and Through the Woods
And Many More!

More song fun!!!
In class we learned to sing "An Austrian Went Yodeling". It is both fun and challenging!  Here are some videos to help you practice.
Or make you feel a little "Cuckoo"!

An Austrian Went Yodeling - MP3 we used in class
An Old Austrian - Lyrics
An Austrian Went Yodeling - Girl Scout Version
An Austrian Went Yodeling - Boy Scout Version
An Austrian Went Jodeling - with guitar chords

The Bear Went Over the Mountain - animation
The Bear Went Over the Mountain - Miss Nina's actions

Over the River and Through the Woods

Activities, Worksheets & Crafts
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Autumn Scavenger Hunt for Toddlers
Bear Went Over the Mountain Flannel Board Pattern
Autumn Sensory Play
Outdoor Classroom Pinterest Board

Bilingual / Multilingual & Signing Links

There are many great articles online but finding them can be a trick!  Here are some favourites. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section.

Multilingual Living

Bilingual Monkeys

パトリシア・クール 「赤ちゃんは語学の天才」

Ask an Expert: Will Using Sign Language Confuse my Bilingual Baby? 

プロフェッショナルに聞く!生きる力の育て方!- ハナハウス代表 高橋裕子さん

Benefits of a Bilingual Brain Infographic

Speech Development in Bilingual Children

Advantages of Teaching Baby Sign Language - Infographic

FAQ: Raising Bilingual Children

Emily Howlett: Fact. Signing really does help babies with their language development


Sign language for toddlers boosts development


Signing with older children

Bilingual Children: Why You Really, Really, Really Should Start When They Are Young

From Second Language Learning to Bilingualism in Schools

New Study Shows Brain Benefits Of Bilingualism

Brain gymBilingualism is an advantage with educational and health benefits, says expert

Johnson: Bringing up baby bilingual

Toddler brain scan gives language insight

Baby sign language more popular as parents aim to communicate

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Beyond Class Basics

In the Beyond Class we are moving beyond the basics covered in the Baby Signing Time classes. The pace is faster, activities geared more towards toddlers and more topics are covered.

Closing Song: Skinny Marinky Dinky Dink (← this song, different actions)

Dance Time: Hopkins Hop (lyrics here)
言葉&サイン Beyond Class Youtube Playlist

Expanding On Turtle Rock

Song: Turtle Rock 
~ Signing Time Series 1 Vol. 7 Leah’s Farm ~

Featured in this song: lizard, frog, snake, turtle

Movement words
 ribbit - ケロケロ  
hop - ホップ  
slither - ずるずる滑る  
scamper - いっそう  
freeze - 止まる  
waddle - ヨチヨチで歩く  
crawl - はいはい  

Lyrics for Signing Time Songs Vol. 7-9 - including Turtle Rock

Don't want to wait for a DVD or CD to arrive? Check out Turtle Rock on the Leah's Farm video with the Kotoba & Sign Digital Player!  Just click here!

Activities, worksheets & crafts
Turtle Theme
Snake Theme
Frog Theme
Lizard Crafts

Want to add some turtles, frogs, lizards and snakes to your collection?