Tag Archives: sign language

Free Printable – Functional Sign Language for the Childcare Setting

Noah has been enjoying his time at the Child Watch program at the Y.   A few weeks ago, the director asked if I could come up with a few signs to share so that Noah would be understood when he signs.  I’ve come up with nine basic American Sign Language signs that are commonly used at home and in the childcare setting; Mommy, Daddy, water, thirsty, all done, more, potty, ball and hurt.

Functional Sign Language for the Childcare Setting

Download the free printable PDF here: Functional Sign Language for the Childcare Setting

For many children with Down syndrome, apraxia, and other speech delay, motivation can be a real problem.  There is nothing more frustrating to a child than attempting to communicate with someone who isn’t understanding them.  On the flip side, there is nothing more motivating to a child struggling with speech than to have the people around him understand and respond to his attempts to communicate.

Please share these signs with your child’s school, babysitter, daycare center, Sunday school class, grandparents, and anywhere else your child may be at risk for not being understood.

Thanks to http://www.babysignlanguage.com for allowing me to use their graphics.

Baby Steps Toward Independent Writing – Tracing Names

It’s a joy to hear Noah answer people now when they ask him his name.  It’s an opportunity for him to use his newly acquired speech skills in real-life situations, and it’s a powerful motivator for him to speak.

Reading and writing his name is something Noah has been working on as well.  Tammy’s post here:  http://www.prayingforparker.com/name-activities-for-kids-with-special-needs/ got me thinking about getting more serious about name writing for Noah (and the rest of my Littles).

See how we went from this (Mommy’s handwriting):


To this:

name tracing 001 name tracing 002


Pretty impressive, eh?

Well Noah’s a talented little guy, let me tell you.

What I love most about this activity is that at the end, you have nothing but your child’s work on a sheet of paper.  Truly, I don’t mind giving Noah whatever assistance he needs, but there’s something thrilling about seeing work that is 100% his.

Here’s how to do this activity:  (Since sign language is an important part of Noah’s communication skills, whenever I prompt him for speech, I am using voice prompts and sign language.  If you use sign language with your child, you will want to do both as well.)

  1. Supplies:  One large index card
  2. Tracing paper cut the size of the index card
  3.   Double-sided tape
  4. One thick marker
  5. Several colors of crayon or thin marker (I use red, pink and blue in the script).

You’ll find I maximize the speech opportunities as much as I can in this exercise.  Not only does it kill two birds with one stone, it gives Noah a chance to use speech in real-life context, something that doesn’t happen in our daily drilling sessions.


  1. Write your child’s name on the index card in large capital letters.  (Capital letters are easiest for children to form.)  At the beginning point of each letter, place a large dot.
  2. Use double-sided tape to tape one sheet of tracing paper over your child’s name.
  3. Script (Insert your child’s name whenever I have typed Noah):

“We have red, pink and blue.”  (Prompt child to now say each color as you point it out.)

“What color would you like?”  (Child should say a color).”

Hand your child the chosen color.  (Prompt child to say color again.)

Show your child the card and say, “Noah.  This says Noah.” Prompt child to say Noah.  

Point to the first letter.  “N.”  (Prompt child to say N). 

“Good.  Can you put your marker on the dot?”   Prompt child to say “On dot.”

“Good.  Now go down (prompt child to say “Down.”)   (You may have to break down the tracing line by line.  Use speech cues in your directions and make sure your child is forming the letter in the correct order of lines.)

Repeat letter naming starting with pointing to the letter for each letter of the name.

“Good job.”  (Remove the tracing paper.)  “Look.  What does it say?”  (Your child should answer with his name, although you may have to say, “Look.  It says Noah.  You wrote Noah.”

Start back at Step 2 for two more tracings.

This is a great way to encourage real-life speech, color recognition, name recognition and writing all in one fun exercise.  Let me know how it goes!

***If the writing portion of this exercise really taxes your child and prompted speech instruction also taxes your child, do not insist on the speech production portion of this exercise.  Your child may need to use all his available resources to do one or the other for the time being.  Work on integrating the two as he progresses in his abilities.

A Moment in His World

I’ve been concerned lately at Noah’s growing frustration and lack of cooperation.  Most attempts by me to work with him on refining his speech is met by resistance.  He is starting to be noncompliant in our school time, and I’m just sensing barriers going up any time I push him towards doing anything remotely academic or speech related.

The thing that bothers me the most is his aversion to making eye contact with me when he knows I’m trying to work with him.  Am I pushing too hard?


But I can’t just let him stay where he’s at.  I mean, it’s my job to push him to do great things, right?

No answers here, but I did enjoy a few minutes with him yesterday evening.

I met him where he was at.  And he let me stay awhile.

Noah was sitting on the couch looking at a book.  (YAY!)

I walked in the room and without saying a word, I was able to attract his attention.  I signed to him without saying a word that I wanted him to come with me so I could brush his teeth.

He signed back – “YOU come HERE!”

So we went back and forth a few times playfully signing “You come here,” and “No, you come here.”

But I really did need to brush his teeth, so I cozied up to him on the couch.  By this time he was laughing.

I signed “You ride.”

That got his attention.  So I gave him a piggy back ride to the bathroom.

Mind you, it is VERY unusual for us to use sign language without at least me saying the word out loud too.  But this communication exchange we had was totally silent, and boy did I have his attention!

So we got to the bathroom and continued our silent game, and I lived for a few minutes in a Noah-controlled world where no speech was necessary.

Magic.  Absolute magic.

After a bit Noah caught on I was up to something, so he reverted back into his uncooperative self, but I had him for a few precious minutes, and oh, the fun we had!  What a blessing to hear Noah laugh and laugh and laugh.

There is something special that happens when you and your child look into each others eyes and use language other than speech to communicate.  It doesn’t have to be formal sign language.  There’s a lot you can communicate just by gestures.

Try it.  Even if your child doesn’t have a speech delay, try making a game out of communicating without the spoken word.  I often see the spoken word as a key to the world around Noah, but that spoken word can also be a barrier.

Hearts know no words, but they know each other.