Life Skills With Makaton
One of the most important of all the life skills is communication. In a special education setting, it is the job of the teacher to promote
functional communication through a means which is usable, repeatable and able to be understood by others. A child must be able to convey the intent of their communication to others. Enter – Makaton signing!
Makaton signing is a system of adaptive and augmentative communication (AAC). Click here for more detail about the benefits and considerations for using Makaton signing to assist with communication.
Makaton signing is great for supporting communication in both hearing impaired and non-hearing impaired students in special education. Makaton is used to communicate key ideas rather than signing individual words within a sentence. Makaton at its simplest can explain the basics of life – 'drink, toilet, stop, go , more , finish' and so on are all highly usable Makaton signs which can be learned rapidly by significant others such as friends and family.
You Can Also Practice Weather Signs
Makaton can be used at the start of the day to prompt children to consider the weather characteristics of the day. Prompt questions such as, 'What do you see in the sky?' 'Do you think it will rain today?' and 'Can you see a rainbow?' can all help guide a student to thinking and communicating about the weather.
Extension activities about the weather can build on Makaton signs. For example, the Makaton sign for rainbow (four fingers outstretched and moved in an arc in front of the chest) can then be used in the song, 'I can sing a rainbow.'
Some useful Makaton weather related signs to teach are:
- rain (pantomime action of rain falling with finger tips wiggling as hands move downwards).
- hot (outwards flick of whole hand in a diagonal line away from the chest).
- cold (two hands clenched as fists near the centre of the chest and shaken slightly up and down as if the body feels cold).
- wet (touch the tips of the four fingers to the thumb).
Tips for Using Makaton Signs
Remember that when using Makaton signs, the spoken word should be used as well. Add in some facial expressions and body movements as needed to support the communication. Respond to any non-verbal indications a child might give that tell you they have something to communicate. For example, the child may move towards the window or look outside. This could be a sign of the intent to communicate so make sure you don't miss the opportunity!
Try to conduct your weather Makaton activity at the same time and place each day, so your students learn the routine and are able to use their ability to predict and respond to a known stimulus when it occurs.
This post is part of the series: Makaton Signs – Basic Words to Build Communication in Special Education
- Learning Makaton Signing: The Key to Good Communication
- Practice Makaton Signing For a Weather Words Activity
- Using Makaton Signs – The Getting Dressed Game
- Makaton Signs – Playing Numbers Games