Designed with Kids in Mind
You’ve decided that you’d like for your students to learn some American Sign Language (ASL) signs in the classroom. Maybe it’s for better classroom management, a better student understanding of new vocabulary, to improve their reading skills, or just to learn a fun second language. So, where can your students go on-line to learn some new signs?
There are several ASL dictionaries on-line, but they are written for an adult audience. Since this is the case, you wouldn’t want your students clicking on different words that may end up being inappropriate for your student’s age group. There are two websites that I have found that are written for a parent that is signing with their baby, that also have an ASL dictionary. Even though these are not written for the child, they are appropriate for a young child to maneuver around in, without fear of finding the signs for inappropriate words.
Click on Dictionary of Signs at the top of the page. This dictionary has a fairly extensive list of words that are appropriate for young children and are words that they would often use. Students can just click on a word on the left hand side of the page to see a video of the sign, or click on a letter of the alphabet along the bottom of the page to see words that start with that letter. There is a written description of how to do each sign next to the video, however, the videos are very clear and are easy to understand so you don’t really need the written description.
You may have two minor concerns with using this site with your students. One would be that they have to go to a website called My Baby Can Talk and they may not like that, since they aren’t babies. The second concern is that before every video is shown, they show their logo. So if you are looking up several words, this repetition of the logo can be an annoyance. If your students can get past these two issues, this could be a great site to explore to learn signs during center or free time.
This site also has a video of each ASL sign and a written explanation of how to do the sign. It is not as extensive as the one I reviewed above, however, still has great signs appropriate for children. Again this website is intended for a parent, which is evident in the section called “Suggested Use" which gives suggestions to the adult on when/how to use the sign with their child. Unfortunately, you can not search this site like a typical on-line dictionary (by letter).
What is a nice plus about this site, however, is that you can either view the entire list of words/signs that they have available, or you can search the signs by different categories; like mealtime, playtime, feelings and more. So if you are working with your students on feelings, they could go to that section of the ASL dictionary to learn feeling signs.
There are a few negatives, but mostly positives for allowing your students to use the above-mentioned ASL dictionaries on-line. You will find that your students will enjoy spending time on these two sites, and more importantly, that they will be learning some new signs as well.