Archive for June 6th, 2006

Learning American Sign Language

June 6, 2006 @ 6:25 pm | Filed under: , , ,

Amy asks,

Are you learning alongside your children and just signing as you can, or are you the “expert” in the family? How are you teaching yourself?

Actually, Jane is the family expert. We are all learning together, but she’s ahead of me. My downfall is fingerspelling—I can spell words quickly, but I can’t read fingerspelling to save my life!

We have used (are using) a number of different resources. The Signing Time DVDs are definitely our family favorites, and all of us—including Wonderboy—have learned dozens of practical, useful, everyday signs from those. A dear friend of mine gave us the four new volumes as a baby gift for Rilla. Such a great present!

I’ve heard there’s now a Signing Time show on PBS—anybody know if that’s correct?

Another video series we have learned from—and I get goosebumps over the fact that we actually went through this program long before Wonderboy was born, just because Jane and I both had an interest in learning ASL—is the Sign with Me program published by Boys’ Town. This video series (not available on DVD, unfortunately) is aimed at parents of deaf children, with the vocabulary consisting of words frequently used when talking to babies and toddlers. This made it a delight for then-seven-year-old Jane and four-year-old Rose, who enjoyed being able to sign important things like “yucky,” “sticky,” and “Cookie Monster” to their baby sister. After Wonderboy—and his diagnosis—came along, we watched the 3-volume series all over again. And somehow I think having gone through it once already, having watched deaf toddlers signing on the video, helped me take Wonderboy’s hard-of-hearing diagnosis in stride.

Last year Jane and I took a course online. Signing Online is geared for college students or older, but it worked out beautifully for us. Each lesson teaches conversational vocabulary through video clips. Again, we found the vocab extremely pertinent and functional: phrases like “What are you doing?” and “Of course!” really help you to converse in a natural manner. (There are a good many nouns, verbs, etc also.) It was a little pricey but we felt it was worth the expense. I think the full course is the equivalent of a semester at the university level.

However, there are some excellent free resources as well:

ASL Pro and ASL Browser are free online American Sign Language dictionaries with video demonstrations of each sign.

ASL University offers a free online tutorial with a combination of video clips and stills.

• I really have no excuse for my lousy fingerspelling skills—I could be honing them with this Fingerspelling Quiz.

• Finally, if your family has a deaf or hard of hearing member, you automatically qualify to use the Captioned Media Program’s free lending library of videos and DVDs—including a wide selection of ASL instructional materials. You can even view them via streaming video! Jane, Rose, Beanie, and I plan to begin a new series in the fall. (I just have to figure out which one.) CMP is funded by the Department of Education and has a library containing thousands of captioned movies, documentaries, and other resources. It’s an amazing program. Your tax dollars at work!

Related posts:
Signing Time DVDs
More about Signing Time
Rilla Signs
Unsolicited Signing Time Commercial
Signing with Babies, My Favorite Topic

Encyclopedia and Anne

June 6, 2006 @ 6:48 am | Filed under:

It’s Boys’ Week at Semicolon, and Sherry is suggesting good books for boys big and little. As always, her recommendations are right on the mark. I was tickled to see Drummer Hoff among the titles; that book was Scott’s favorite when he was a little boy, and our girls were delighted when he scored a copy at a used book sale a couple of years ago.

Sherry’s list for nine-year-old boys is full of our old pals, like Hank the Cow Dog, Encyclopedia Brown, and Tintin. I would add* By the Great Horn Spoon and The Great Turkey Walk to the list. I haven’t tested these on any nine-year-old boys yet, but my pack of girls adored them, and their combination of breathless action and offbeat humor is bound to satisfy any boy.

Meanwhile, over at Jen Robinson’s Book Page, it’s girls who are in the spotlight. Jen and her readers have assembled a list of the Coolest Girls in Children’s Literature. I have to say it was quite a thrill to see my own Martha Morse on the list. #112 on the list is Jane Stuart of Jane of Lantern Hill, a book by the author of Anne of Green Gables. Jane is the character who inspired my own “Jane” to choose that particular name for her blog alias when I started Bonny Glen 18 months ago. I myself re-read Jane of Lantern Hill at least once a year. The lion scene especially slays me.

Probably, though, I would pick Anne above Jane for Coolest Girl. And I have to think about who would get my vote for Coolest Girl of All…Anne or Jo? And then there’s Vicky Austin, Claudia Kincaid, and Martha Sowerby….

*UPDATED to add: Doh! Semicolon’s list, of course, was about series for boys. She posted a follow-up about individual titles—another excellent list.

What’s Your Favorite Homeschooling Magazine?

June 6, 2006 @ 3:33 am | Filed under:

Calling all homeschoolers: your friendly librarian needs some advice. Liz B. of A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, one of our favorite blogs, is wondering what homeschooling magazines might be most useful for her patrons. Budgets being what they are, she can only choose one. Liz writes, “What I am looking for is something that would have the broadest appeal possible, to as many types of homeschoolers/unschoolers/worldschoolers/all the other schoolers as possible.”

My choice would be Home Education Magazine, which is the only homeschooling subscription I’ve stuck with over the past six years. Its articles are well written and engaging; they range over a wide field of topics and viewpoints (tipping somewhat toward an unschooling or natural learning perspective, but not exclusively). I especially appreciate the sensible and shrewd commentary on homeschooling law and politics. Most of all, though, I enjoy the personal flavor of the articles, the glimpses into other people’s homes, the enthusiasm with which the writers share their ideas and experiences.

How about the rest of you? I’d like to give Liz some good feedback here. What are your top five homeschooling publications, and why?

Oh, and while I’ve got you—the new Carnival of Homeschooling is up at PalmTree Pundit. Love the fish theme. There’s a Lilting House post among the trumpetfish. Toot!