Sign Language: How to Pick the Signs to Teach Your Children

As you all know, I am working on teaching sign language to both my one year old Ev and my three year old. Recently I posted about how we are learning sign language. However I everyday I say out loud about a thousand times “Oh, I should look up that sign!” but then, of course I could never remember what the signs were later that night to go look them up. So, I came up with a real simple solution.

I carried around a pad of paper and a pen for a whole day and wrote down all the words that I find myself using often with my son.

Simple, right? I ended up with a nice list of words that we use on a regular basis. My plan is to try to teach myself a few signs a day. If I stick to just a few a day (or every other day) and use them daily, I will soon have a much bigger repertoire of signs that are based on my child’s interests and needs. The more I use them, the more likely my children will learn them.

Because I have taken sign language courses (a while back) and have used ASL in my speech therapy sessions in the past, I am finding myself going “Oh yeah, I remember that one!” on most of the signs I look up!

So this is one simple way to determine the signs that you want to work on with your little ones. I hope this will help some of you who want to learn sign language with your child but feel overwhelmed at the prospect. In addition to using these words, we are watching the first four volumes of the Signing Time series.

If you are signing to your children how to you pick the signs you are working on?


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About Katie

Katie is a licensed, credentialed and certified pediatric speech-language pathologist and mom to three (5, 3 and 9 months). Her passion about educating, inspiring and empowering parents of children with all abilities led her to start her blog Playing With Words 365 where she shares information about speech and language development, therapy ideas and tips, intervention strategies and a little about her family life too. Katie has been working in the field of speech pathology for 9 years and is certified in The Hanen Centre’s It Takes Two to Talk ® and Target Word ® programs and holds a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In addition to blogging and being a mommy, Katie works part time in her small private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. That’s a great idea! I love the Baby Signing Time series! My sister introduced me before my first was born and we watched that and Baby Einstein Sign Language videos all the time!
    She still randomly throws out signs a lot, but we were a lot more lazy with our second. Still the basics were a life saver before they can talk!

  2. Katie! Tmrw I’m having a promotion on Signing Time DVDs!! Great post – if I figure out how to re-post I’m going to do that on my site :)!

  3. Great post! I too love the Baby Signing Time DVDs. I used them both with my boys when they were younger. :) I love your pad and pen!

  4. I’ve taught “Baby Sign” classes at the community center and use basic signs daily. We actually had my daughter in a deaf/HOH classroom as a “peer model” for about a year and a half. I’m a huge fan! And yes, I do own almost 20 Signing Times DVDs!

  5. I, too, kept trying to remember to look up signs later. I tried to remedy that keeping an ASL dictionary in my daughter’s room which mostly did the trick. I still had to search on-line for a few harder to find insect and phrase signs, a notepad and pen would have been so helpful! I’m absolutely going try that this time around.

  6. I have been signing with my daughter since she was 10 months. She is now 2.5 and has been signing regularly while talking. Then she comes to someting she doesn’t know how to sign so she will ask me. I have a smart phone now so I have bookmarked to look it up. Either that or I will put a note in my phone to look up a word. :)

    • Lauren I LOVE hearing these stories! And yes a smart phone is an AWESOME thing to have on hand!

    • Signingsavvy is where I go to! Its the only place I found “Bless you” . @Lauren, my 23 month old still signs occasionally but it decreased as her vocabulary increased. How did you maintain the signing?

      • Great to know Marisa! I JUST got an iPad for Christmas, and an iPhone two weeks ago so I need to check out this app!

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