Something Else to Buy Instead of Curriculum: Signing Time

It’s been a while since I wrote about Signing Time, but it occurred to me that I ought to mention it for new readers.

The Signing Time DVDs are a wonderful series of half-hour shows designed to teach American Sign Language (ASL) to children. Adults who happen to be in the room will find they can’t help but learn as well. The shows are delightful, with catchy songs, cute kids, and practical ASL vocabulary.

Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote about Signing Time two years ago:

It’s hard for me to imagine our lives without Signing Time. Rachel Coleman, the creator, and her daughter Leah, who is deaf, and Leah’s cousin Alex, who is hearing, are practically part of our family. “Rachel says” and “Leah says” are regular utterances around here. When Wonderboy watches the videos, he looks back and forth from me to Rachel, or from his sisters to the children, in awed delight. His hands soar through the air, mimicking his beloved Rachel. He understands the spoken words “Signing Time” even without his hearing aids in. (This is significant. He probably hears something like “eye-ee-eye,” but he sure knows what it means.)

Rachel’s songs have become my personal highway belt-it-out favorites (along with Marie Bellet and Bruce Springsteen), because she *gets it* so completely. Leah was a year old when her parents learned she was deaf. Rachel’s family’s love and occupation is music, and my hat is off to Rachel Coleman for finding a way to so beautifully combine her old life with her new one. Next to the joy she has brought my children, my favorite thing about Rachel Coleman is her honesty in lyrics. Her song, “The Good,” expresses my understanding of motherhood better than anything I’ve ever written: “Maybe we won’t find easy, but baby we’ve found the good.”

Lately, Wonderboy has been re-immersed in these DVDs, asking for them daily. They are the ONLY television show he has ever shown any interest in watching, ever. When his sisters watch other shows, even cartoons, Wonderboy pays no attention. But for Signing Time, he is always all eyes and ears.

He has learned a ton of vocabulary from them, including (just lately) words like “remember,” “learn,” and “smart.” I wrote a post for Bonny Glen last night about what a big deal it is that he is now beginning to grasp abstract concepts (such as remember, learn, and smart!). I really think ST has a great deal to do with that.

Rilla (she is 15 months now) is also enchanted by ST and enchants the rest of us with her perfectly scrumptious signing…when she signs “More,” her daddy is putty in her plump little hands.

I also think the DVDs spurred Beanie along the path to reading when she was four and five years old. The English words for each sign appear on the screen before the signs are demonstrated, and those were some of the first words she learned how to read.

The shows are now being aired on PBS, so you can check your listings to see if it’s playing in your area. But the DVDs are a worthy investment (and they make great gifts). (And no, I don’t get a commission on these materials! I just love them.)

The first three volumes are simpler, younger, than later editions. Volumes 4-6 are my family’s favorites, except for Wonderboy, who prefers, ironically, the “Welcome to School” disk.

I see on the website there are two new “Practice Time” DVDs—I haven’t seen those yet.

We seem to have lost Volume 11, “My Neighborhood,” somewhere along the trail during our cross-country trip. I’m thinking about re-ordering it, because I know Wonderboy would be very into the whole police- officer-firefighter theme right now.

There is also a Signing Time blog and forum.

Signing Time DVDs
Rilla Signs
Unsolicited Signing Time Commercial
Signing with Babies, My Favorite Topic

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8 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Tara says:

    We will have to check these out. My daughter’s Waldorf teacher of four years taught the class sign language and she so enjoyed it. Now that we’ve been homeschooling sign language has fallen by the wayside. This will be a great way to bring it back.
    I’m really enjoying your blog. The game and movie suggestions are also awesome. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. haley says:

    Do you know anything about the Baby Signing Time DVDs and if they’re significantly different than the regular Signing Time DVDs?

  3. KC says:

    I love these DVDs and my children adore them too. My youngest (just turned 2) will revert to sign language when she can’t get her point across. And, those little hands are awfully cute when she does use sign language.

  4. Diane says:

    Your blog has been very helpful getting us into ST and signing in general. With your suggestion too, we’ve started attending a signed Mass, led by a lady who even takes time to add more signs to my girls’ repertoire. But the best thing for me is using ASL in teaching them my language (Filipino). Surprisingly, they retain the words more when they are able to use their hands as a memory tool!

  5. Melissa Wiley says:

    Do you know anything about the Baby Signing Time DVDs and if they’re significantly different than the regular Signing Time DVDs?

    Haley, we have the Baby Signing Time DVDs too, but I don’t think they’re as good as the regular Signing Time ones. They’re shorter, maybe 20 minutes apiece, and there is some crossover of vocab with the ST vols. 1-3. (Quite a bit of new vocab, though–especially about “things that go,” which song is a hit w/ my kids, especially Wonderboy.)

    The Diaper Dance song makes me crazy, but that may be just me.

    In Baby ST, Alex and Leah are cartoon toddlers. I like seeing the real kids better!

    My guess is the ST folks made the BST dvds to tap into the growing “baby sign” movement/market, and they’ve done a decent job, compared to other baby sign materials on the market. But I think if you had to choose, you’re better off with the regular ST series. More bang for your buck, better music–and just as appealing to babies, by the way!

  6. Monica says:

    Volume 4 is my favorite! I am glad to know I’m not the only one that sings (and signs) along to the CDs while I drive.