Your Family Deserves to Read Visually – And I Don’t Mean with Illustrations

This week I have an amazing mental workout for you and your family that’s going to make reading with them fun and mentally life-changing. Yep. You’re going to lovvvvvve it once you start.

As you might know, not only is the visual language of ASL (or any sign language) helpful for babies who cannot clearly communicate their needs verbally, it’s also an amazing bridge for multilingual families connecting or acquiring languages.

I want to show you how to make reading visual through ASL because the benefits for such a simple change are intense—for baby sign families, multilingual families, and families that live or go abroad.

How to Use Signs in a Story

[1] The goal is to sign the words that carry the most weight in a sentence. This might be one word or it might be two words in a sentence.  For example, if we were reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, when we get to the week of the delicious food he ate, we could choose to sign the different fruits the caterpillar eats each day as well as the word caterpillar. When he goes crazy on the food he is eating, you could just sign eat, eat, eat!

I would completely avoid overwhelming yourself with how many signs you NEED to do. Everyone has a different fun level. Once it’s not fun, you’ve probably past that level, so bring it back to the fun zone.

So yeah, that’s all there is to it: each sentence, choose one or two words to sign.

Amazing things truly do develop through small and simple things. One day, you, like many families, will swear by how this affected your child’s attention span, reading proficiency, language development, and/or foreign language acquisition for multilingual families.

[2] This next and last step is essential. If you wonder what the sign is for a word, get in the habit of quickly looking it up. The act of following up on curiosity is what sets apart those that devour when they learn to those that nibble. This is true for any language. Teaching your children this process will absolutely change their lives. They will have a strong example in their lives of someone who seeks out the answers to her questions; of someone who doesn’t let what she doesn’t know stop her; and of someone who is on a life long quest of learning.

Now Your Workout!

Here is a playlist of some ASL signs for the common words in the favorite “I know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” It will take a total of about 3 minutes to skim the signs in the beginning of all of the videos.Below are the words if you don’t have the poem in a book, which is totally fine.

Once you’re ready, tell the story visually to or with your children! And remember, look up any sign you or your child might be curious about, yes? 🙂

Ready? Go!

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly.
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider
that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly.
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird.
How absurd to swallow a bird!
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly.
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat.
Imagine that, she swallowed a cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly.
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a dog.
My what a hog to swallow a dog!
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
that wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly.
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a goat.
Just opened her throat and swallowed a goat!
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog.
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
that wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly.
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow.
I don’t know how she swallowed a cow!
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat.
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog.
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly.
Perhaps she’ll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse…
She’s dead, of course.

To a super rad week of reading visually (and hopefully just the beginning!),

Aelaide



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