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American Sign Language: Thanksgiving Vocabulary

written by: Heather Marie Kosur • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 3/2/2012

Do you want to talk about Thanksgiving in American Sign Language? This article describes some essential signs for discussing the holiday in general as well as the foods commonly served at Thanksgiving dinner. Also included is a free printable download of the signs described in the article.

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    Thanksgiving ASL Vocabulary

    Thanksgiving is a time when the whole family and guests may be gathered around the table. If you have a hearing challenged participant at dinner, here's your opportunity to bring them into the conversation and let them know the variety that is being served.

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    Thanksgiving ASL

    dinner – Form the [inlineImage|link|0E7ACC25A5B22F393279781E42405634BED4F823||letter D] of the sign language alphabet with the right hand. With the index finger pointing up, tap the tips of the other fingers on the mouth twice.

    eat/food – Form a flattened [inlineImage|link|D21E2C0C506E50A38B287E77436A1E252DF1D266||letter O] of the sign language alphabet with the right hand. Tap the rips of the fingers and thumb on the mouth twice.

    family – Form the number 9 in ASL with both hands. Hold the hands in front of the body at chest level with the palms facing forward and the tips of the thumbs touching. Circle the hands forward and around. End with the tips of the pinky fingers touching.

    feast – Form the sign for eat with both hands. Circle the hands in front of the mouth beginning with the left hand near the mouth and the right hand farther from the mouth.

    grateful/gratitude/thanks – Begin with both hands held black with the fingers held together. Hold the hands in front of the chin with the palms facing the body. Tap the back of the hands forward twice.

    harvest – Form a fist with the left hand and hold the left hand in front of the center of the body at waist left. Form the right hand with the palm facing up and the fingers held together. Chop the right hand over the left fist twice. The sign for harvest resembles chopping a plant.

    holiday – Begin by forming both hands with the fingers and thumbs held apart and slightly curved. Hold the hands in front of the chest with the palms facing down. Tap the thumbs to the chest twice.

    November – (1) Fingerspell the abbreviation N-O-V using the sign language alphabet. (2) Form the letter N of the sign language alphabet with the right hand. Hold the left hand in front of the body at stomach level with the fingers and thumb held loosely apart and the palm facing the right. Place the right hand on the left of the left hand. Raise the right hand over the left hand while lifting the right index and middle fingers. End with the right hand in the shape of the number 2 in ASL on the right side of the left hand.

    pilgrim – Begin by pointing the index fingers on both hands straight and folding the other fingers onto the palms. Point the index fingers to the chin with the palms of the hands facing the body. Move the index fingers from the chin to the shoulders. Circle the index fingers around to meet in the center of the chest.

    Thanksgiving – Begin with both hands held flat with the fingers and thumbs together. Hold the right hand in front of the chin and the left hand in front of the left temple with the palms facing the body. Tap the back of the hands forward twice.

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    Thanksgiving Foods

    bean – Form the number 1 in ASL with both hands. Hold the left hand in front of the body at chest level with the index finger pointing right. Then tap the tip of the right index finger on the top of the left index finger three times moving from the left to the right.

    bread – Hold the left hand in front of the chest with the palm facing the body. Form the right hand with the fingers held together. Place the right fingertips on the top of the left wrist. Make four downward cutting motions moving from the left wrist to the left fingertips. The sign for bread resembles the slicing of a loaf of bread.

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    carrot – Form the number 1 in ASL with the left hand and the number 10 in ASL with the right hand. Hold the left hand in front of the body at chest level. Place the right thumb at the top of the left index finger. Rub the right thumb up and down the left index finger three times.

    corn – Form the number 1 in ASL with the right hand. Place the right index finger on the face between the nose and the upper lip. Twist the wrist up and down.

    cranberry – Fingerspell the word C-R-A-N-B-E-R-R-Y with the sign language alphabet.

    gravy – Hold the left hand in front of the chest with the palm facing the body. Place the right index finger on the back of the left hand and the right thumb on the palm of the left hand. Swipe the right finger and thumb down the left hand three times.

    pie – Begin with the left hand at chest level with the palm facing up. Hold the right hand with the fingers held loosely together. Tap the right pinky finger on the top of the left palm. Twist the right hand and tap the right pinky finger on the top of the left palm perpendicular from the first tap. Then twist the right hand back and tap the right pinky finger on the top of the left palm in the original position. The sign for pie resembles the cutting of a pie.

    potato – Begin by holding the left hand in front of the chest with the wrist bent and the palm facing the body. Form the number 2 in ASL with the right hand and bend the right index and middle fingers down. Tap the tips of the right index and middle fingers on top of the left hand three times.

    pumpkin – Begin by holding the left hand in front of the chest with the wrist bent and the palm facing the body. Form the number 8 in ASL with the right hand. Tap the right middle finger and thumb onto the top of the left wrist twice.

    salad – Hold the hands in front of the chest with the palms facing the body. Move the hands toward the chest while closing the fingers three times. The sign for salad resembles the tossing of lettuce in a bowl.

    soup – Hold the left hand in front of the body at chest level in the shape of a bowl with the palm facing up. Shape the right hand with the index and middle fingers held straight, the thumb pointed out, and the ring and pinky fingers folded down onto the palm. Dip the right index and middle fingers into the left hand twice. The sign for soup resembles dipping a spoon into a bowl of soup.

    turkey – Form the letter Q of the sign language alphabet with the right hand. Touch the right hand to the chin with the tips of the index finger and thumb pointing down. Swing the right hand forward and back twice in imitation of a turkey waddle.

    yam – Fingerspell the word Y-A-M with the sign language alphabet.

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    For videos and pictures of the signs described in this article, please refer to the following free online resources:

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    For a printable download of the ASL signs in this article, please download the vocabulary sheet Thanksgiving ASL Vocabulary Sheet.

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