Two things we value in the Preschool classroom are fostering positive communication and connecting with each other. Making connections begins with developing trust and finding a variety of ways to communicate with our diverse population of young learners that are acquiring new language skills each day. Using alternative means of communication, like sign language, strengthens awareness and also supports those in our population with emergent language skills. Sign language is not only used as a classroom management tool, but also as a vehicle for expanding vocabulary and practicing essential skills like patience, focus and self-control.
During a recent small group time, the youngest learners in the preschool (2-3 years old) played a memory game using signs about winter. This interactive activity introduced multi-step hand gestures to communicate words like, candy cane, skate, snowman and gift. After reviewing the new signs, each child had a turn to blindly pick a card and stand up in front of their peers to show the sign (without talking). This game required focus and self control as the other children were asked to not blurt out the answer until others had a chance to think.
As our signing vocabulary and confidence builds throughout the school year, new activities surface utilizing this fun and engaging way to slow down and connect with each other while communicating in a unique way.