Some 'Key' Makaton Signs and Makaton Symbols to Try
So where should my students who are learning Makaton begin? Well, first off think about why we communicate as human beings. Communication is power. Communication is self expression. Communication is independence. Communication is self-fulfilment of needs and wants. We know this, and we know this is vital for our students. Without the ability to verbally 'paddle their own canoes' our students are left voiceless and unable to take charge of their own lives in a meaningful way. As teachers, the most useful skill we can give is the ability to communicate with others.
So here are a few makaton signs and makaton symbols that can help at the very beginnings of developing intentional communication with others:
Finish - a waggle of the thumb with the rest of the fingers closed. (I've finished my meal, I don't want anymore drink, I'm done with that activity!)
Stop - a hand raised and pushed forwards with the thumb and fingers outstretched (stop - no more!)
More - a cupped hand faced towards the chest and then moved forwards slightly (I want more of that drink - I'm thirsty!)
Toilet - the pointer finger pointed at the other hand, which is held flat
No - clenched fist waggled from left to right a few times
Yes - clenched fist moved up and down in a nodding action
Jumper - clenched fists to shoulders then waist (or other related clothing signs to show a need for a change of clothing)
Give these Makaton signs a go with your pre-verbal students, and combine them with a graphic image laminated on a card to reinforce the Makaton sign (often the Makaton symbol is a visual representation of the Makaton sign).