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Blog Articles by: John Miller

Signing Children’s Books: Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

Learning Tips   |  Thursday, December 6, 2018

By John Miller

This article is part of our “Signing Children’s Books” series, which highlights children’s books and pairs them with pre-built Signing Savvy word lists to help you get started with learning and signing the vocabulary in the book. Reading and literacy is so important. By sharing these pre-built word lists, we hope to cut down on prep time for families that are just beginning to learn ASL and hope you can find more comfort in sharing literacy with our young deaf children.

Children everywhere love the story of how Rudolph and his glowing red nose guided Santa’s sleigh through the night skies on a blustery Christmas Eve long ago. This classic has since been made into several books and movies.

See Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer signed:

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

As with any name, the first time you will need to fingerspell R-U-D-O-L-P-H and then either set him up in space OR create an assigned sign name with the children so that you can use that for the rest of the story. I have used a R handshape on the nose, or the sign for deer with R handshapes. Normally we have a discussion about it together, and the children decide what they think Rudolph's assigned sign name should be.

There are many nice signing activities you can do with this book and song. Use the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer pre-built word list to help you as you experience this magical story. Have fun with it!

Word List for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

View word list of ASL signs for the book Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

Signing Savvy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking signingsavvy.com to Amazon properties. That means Signing Savvy may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, your cost will be exactly the same regardless, but Signing Savvy will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us continue to improve Signing Savvy!

 

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Cooking Up Language with Signs: Peanut Butter Reindeer / Rudolph Cookies

Learning Tips   |  Wednesday, December 5, 2018

By John Miller

This article is part of our “Cooking Up Language With Signs” series, which features a recipe and accompanying sign language word list to get you started on an interactive cooking activity that is great for spicing up language learning at home or in the classroom.

What’s cookin’?

Today I’m cooking up peanut butter reindeer / Rudolph cookies. They are a cute and fun treat that kids love. Here is a pre-built word list created to go along with the recipe.

These cookies are great to go along with the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer book or song. I’ve also created an article and word list for the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer book.

Reindeer cookies

I like to use a peanut butter cookie base for these cookies just because it gives you that nice brown color for your cookie, but I know some people have peanut butter allergies and some schools won’t allow you to have it in school. That doesn’t mean you can’t make these. If allergies are an issue, use a sugar cookie or something else and just frost the cookies with a brown frosting. If you are using peanut butter cookies, I know Sam’s Club has a great way to save time by using their big boxed sets that come with a couple bags of all the dry ingredients already mixed together for you, AND because they also have the Hershey kisses in them that you aren’t using for this recipe, it’s a bonus chocolate treat for you and the kids!

Shape your dough on the pan in more of a triangle shape, rather than a circle. This will give you a nice face of a reindeer.

Make dough into a triangle shape to form the face of the reindeer.

Bake the cookies as directed and then as soon as they are out of the oven, add the eyes (easily found at Walmart or other baking/craft store), a nice red nose for Rudolph (peanut butter M&M’s seem to be a good size) and antlers that are pretzels already dipped in white crème/cream, chocolate, or yogurt. (You can buy them this way or dip your own, or leave them just as pretzels if you want.)

Add candy to decorate cookies

These turn out so cute, it is hard to eat them. But not that hard. They are tasty!

And my little helpers thought of ways to make the whole reindeer team by changing out the nose color using different colored M&M’s.  Let them have their fun!

Recipe

Enjoy making cookies of Rudolph and Santa's whole team of reindeer. Use the pre-built word list created to go along with the recipe to help you as you make this tasty recipe.

Peanut Butter Reindeer / Rudolph Cookies

Ingredients:


Tools: 

  • cookie sheet / pan
  • spatula
  • (may need a bowl and spoon for mixing if using a box mix)


Directions:

  1. Shape your peanut butter cookie dough on the pan in more of a triangle shape, rather than a circle. This will give you a nice face of a reindeer.
  2. Bake the cookies as directed.
  3. As soon as they are out of the oven, decorate your reindeer cookies. Add the candy eyes, M&M candy noses (use red for Rudolph!), and pretzels for antlers.

Word List for Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

View word list of ASL signs for Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies

Signing Savvy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking signingsavvy.com to Amazon properties. That means Signing Savvy may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, your cost will be exactly the same regardless, but Signing Savvy will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us continue to improve Signing Savvy!

 

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Signing Children’s Books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas 123

Learning Tips   |  Friday, November 30, 2018

By John Miller

This article is part of our “Signing Children’s Books” series, which highlights children’s books and pairs them with pre-built Signing Savvy word lists to help you get started with learning and signing the vocabulary in the book. Reading and literacy is so important. By sharing these pre-built word lists, we hope to cut down on prep time for families that are just beginning to learn ASL and hope you can find more comfort in sharing literacy with our young deaf children.

Here is The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas 123 pre-built word list created to go along with the classic book.

The The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a classic book, loved by many. It was a favorite that I would read in my classroom. Not only is it cute and kids love it, but it also incorporates days of the week, counting, and food… if you’ve read some of my other articles, you know I love teaching signing through food! (See some of the other food-related articles I’ve written listed in the Related Articles section below.)

Given the time of year, I am feeling in the holiday spirit, so I picked a book that is a twist on The Very Hungry Caterpillar, called The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas 123.  This book is great for young children and it follows the same patterns of the classic original. It incorporates numbers with colorful Christmas vocabulary.

Use the The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas 123 pre-built word list to help you with the signs as you experience this book. Have Fun with it!

Word List for The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas 123

View word list of ASL signs for the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas 123

Signing Savvy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking signingsavvy.com to Amazon properties. That means Signing Savvy may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, your cost will be exactly the same regardless, but Signing Savvy will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us continue to improve Signing Savvy!

 

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Help! I want to share the love of reading with my little one, but how???

Help! I want to share the love of reading with my little one, but how???

Learning Tips   |  Friday, November 30, 2018

By John Miller

Recently, I was contacted by a young hearing mother of a 10-month old, deaf child. This mother had two other children that are hearing, she works full time outside of the home, and now her third child was born profoundly deaf. She has tried her best to read and learn everything she can about deafness and educational options. She and her husband have decided they will be using sign language with their family. She was taking formal classes and then acting as the "teacher" for the rest of her family. She felt that so far, the family had been doing a pretty good job trying to learn ASL. She spoke of how sweet it was to see the older siblings doing their best to try and communicate with their new baby brother, who will be using sign language as his primary source of communication.

This mother did share one thing she was feeling very guilty about though; something  she knew she did with her hearing children, that she was NOT doing for her deaf child… reading and sharing literacy with him on a nightly basis. Being an educated woman, she knows the importance of reading to young children, but struggled with her own sign language skills keeping up with the vocabulary presented in the children’s books. She also noted how many "no-nonsense words" show up in children's books and wanted advice on how to handle those kinds of words.  

The family had all the classic books and her older children had their favorites that they would ask to be read (and signed) with their baby brother, but how in the world would she begin to tackle words like CHICKA, CHICKA, BOOM BOOM and many of the other words that show up in children's books?

These were many of the same issues I remember dealing with as a teacher of young deaf children much of my career. In my own classroom, I would carefully choose the books I shared with my students, but what about when my students brought books from the library or home? Or when I was acting as the interpreter in another classroom that was having a Dr. Seuss marathon of zummers, nizzards, fifer-feffer-feff, yekko, jogg-oons, zatz-it, etc…

So upon reflection of how to help this mother, I decided that I want to highlight a feature we currently have on Signing Savvy, WORD LISTS!!! Word Lists are a feature where members can create a list of signs they use, in this case, for books they read (whether in their classrooms or in their homes) and SHARE them with other members so that we can learn from each other and cut down on the prep time needed.

To this end, I am beginning a series of blog articles titled "Signing Children’s Books."  Each week I will highlight a children's book to share with your little ones and the signs that go along with them. Hopefully this will help parents, teachers, and families, so that we can find more comfort in sharing literacy with our young deaf children.

If you aren’t already following Signing Savvy on Facebook, please do! That is a great place to get reminders when new articles are posted and carry on conversations about each article.

 

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Common Fingerspelling Mistakes New Signers Make

Learning Tips   |  Friday, September 14, 2018

By John Miller

One of the first concepts covered in beginning or basic sign language classes is fingerspelling. There are a few common mistakes that are made by many beginner signers related to fingerspelling. Hopefully you can recognize them in your own practice and avoid making bad habits that are difficult to break.

Signing Space When Fingerspelling

First of all, the misuse of sign space is a common mistake, specifically as it is related to fingerspelling. Yes, we have an imaginary box around us, almost like a television set that is just inches above our heads and goes off to either sides of our bodies, and then ends around our waists.

However, that does not mean that all that space is fair game for fingerspelling. For right handed signers (right dominant), fingerspelling should be done in the area to the right of center of the chest. For left handed signers (left dominant), fingerspelling should be done in the area to the left of center. It should be out away from the body about 6-8 inches (not too far and not too close) and your letters should not be "thrown forward" or bounced up and down within that area.

AVOCADO

Example of fingerspelling A-V-O-C-A-D-O.

The Directional Movement While Fingerspelling

When spelling double letters or starting a new word, you should slide away from the center of your body. That is, if you are right dominant, move outward from left to right just like you were reading a book. If you are left dominant, move outward from right to left which is actually backwards from the way you read. In both cases, DON'T move back towards the center of the body. Many new signers do this and it looks so awkward to seasoned signers, they can see the mistake immediately.

ARMADILLO

Example fingerspelling A-R-M-A-D-I-L-L-O.
Notice how the double L-L slides away from the body.

Common Formation Mistakes When Fingerspelling

There are several common letter formation mistakes that new signers make. Here are a few examples to watch out for.

The letter Z is produced with the index finger NOT the little finger.

This seems to be a misconception that started with incorrect information and then caught hold with some people, but it is INCORRECT! The letter Z is produced with the index finger.

Z

Example "Z" handshape.
 

Use a closed E, instead of an open or "screaming" E.

Fingerspelling Example: E

The letter E should be closed (as shown below) with the finger tips tight against the hand, not opened. An open E is sometimes called a “screaming E” because it looks like an open mouth that is screaming. This is not horrible, but it is something native signers will notice as sloppy form.

The screaming E has a tighter grip at the top of the fingers with the tips pulled back very tight against the lower part of the fingers, where the correct E (with the tips resting just over the horizontal thumb) are much loser of a grip and much more comfortable.
Because you have to pull the fingertips back much tighter to make the screaming E, it slows down the flow of the signing.

E

Example "E" handshape.
   

Point your fingers straight out over the thumb for letters M and N.

Other letters that can slow you down when fingerspelling if done too “tight” are the letters M and N.  You will often see the fingers on the M and N folded over tight over the thumb.  Again, this isn’t really wrong, as much as unnecessary.  If your fingers are this tight over the thumb, it slows you down in your fingerspelling as you become more fluent.  Leaving the fingers pointing straight out over the thumb frees up the hand to make faster movements while fingerspelling.

M

Example "M" handshape.
N

Example "N" handshape.
   

Do not use a flat hand when signing the letter O.

Fingerspelling Example: O

Fingerspelling Example: O

When signing the letter O, use a rounded O shape and do not make a flat O.

   

The letters O and C should face forward.

Fingerspelling Example: O

Fingerspelling Example: C

Another common mistake is that the letters O and C are turned to the side rather than facing outward like they should be. I think because many books will show a side or slightly turned angle of the hand in order for people to get the correct hand shape, people think that the turned O and C are the way to actually sign them. This is not correct. See the proper way below.

O

Example "O" handshape.
C

Example "C" handshape.
   

The letters K and P should face forward.

Fingerspelling Example: P

The letters K and P also run into that same issue. New signers want to turn them as they see them presented in books and they end up looking very awkward and uncomfortable to sign. Get the K-hand as it should be, facing forward, and then to go to the P-hand, just drop the wrist. The change from a K to a P is all wrist, nothing else.

K

Example "K" handshape.
P

Example "P" handshape.
   

The letters G and H should be turned sideways (so the palm faces the body).

Fingerspelling Example: H

Many books will show these letters from a different angle in an attempt to show the handshapes better. The letters G and H should be turned sideways (so the palm faces the body). See the examples below.

G

Example "G" handshape.
H

Example "H" handshape.
   

Don’t Read the Letter Names, Sound It Out

Whether it is you signing the letters yourself (expressive skills), or you reading others fingerspelling (receptive skills), you need to think of the sounds that are connected to those letters, and NOT the letter name itself. This will help you to be able to figure out the words better down the road as you are trying to read bigger and bigger words. You may miss a letter, but if you have been saying the sounds in your head, you will more than likely be able to figure out the word.

Try it! In the example below, don’t spell out each letter as they are signed, sound out the word.

 

Reference Sheets to Help you with Fingerspelling


Alphabet Letters in American Sign Language (ASL)

Signing Savvy Member Feature: Download this image / flyer as a printable PDF page.
 

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