In December 1974, DC Public Library established Clerc-Gallaudet Week as a way of honoring the birthdays of Laurent Clerc and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (December 26, 1785 and December 10, 1787, respectively) and promoting library awareness in the deaf community and deaf awareness in the library community.
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, a hearing minister from Connecticut, and Laurent Clerc, a deaf teacher from France, met by chance in 1815…but their partnership would found a school, plant the seeds of American Sign Language, and provide the foundation for both deaf education and Deaf Culture in the United States.
Celebrate Clerc-Gallaudet Week in your library or classroom!
Share a picture book:
- Emily Arnold McCully’s My Heart Glow: Alice Cogswell, Thomas Gallaudet, and the Birth of American Sign Language (Hyperion, 2008) is a beautiful picture book telling of Gallaudet’s story, from the point of view of Alice Cogswell, the deaf child who inspired Gallaudet to become an educator of the deaf.
- The Moses books by Isaac Millman (Farrar Straus & Giroux) incorporate basic sign language instruction into stories of a little boy named Moses, who is deaf. The illustrations are child-friendly and clearly depict the signs, which relate to the story. Check out the series: Moses Goes to a Concert (1998), Moses Goes to School (2000), Moses Goes to the Circus (2003), and Moses Sees a Play (2004).
- The Printer by Myron Uhlberg (Peachtree, 2003) presents the tale of a deaf printer who, through the use of American Sign Language, is able to communicate with other deaf printers over the roar of the printing presses, and save their hearing counterparts from a fire.
Share signs in a storytime rhyme or song:
Share an inspiring video:
Check out the Deaf Performing Artists Network page at http://www.d-pan.org for music videos designed for both Deaf and hearing audiences. Our favorite kid-friendly and fun videos on the site:
Play a visual game:
- Follow the Leader
- ASL Manual Alphabet Bingo (follow the prompts at the link to create printable bingo cards and caller sheet using the manual alphabet)
For more games and classroom curriculum connections, see this article: Keep ‘Em Reading: Deaf History Month and ASL by Kathy MacMillan.
Looking for even more rhymes, songs and crafts incorporating signs? Check out Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together by Kathy MacMillan (Huron Street Press, 2013).
Asynchronous eCourse beginning January 6, 2014 and continuing for 6 weeks
Estimated Hours of Learning: 30
Certificate of Completion available upon request
American Sign Language (ASL) is an invaluable skill for library professionals. A basic grasp of ASL enhances your ability to serve deaf library users and opens up a new world of possibilities for storytime programs. It’s also a marketable professional skill that can translate to public service jobs beyond the library world.
Ideal for those without previous experience, this eCourse taught by librarian and ASL interpreter Kathy MacMillan will use readings, multimedia resources, and online discussion boards to introduce basic ASL vocabulary and grammar appropriate for use in a library setting. MacMillan will place ASL within a linguistic and cultural context, aiding participants in improving library services.
After completing this eCourse, participants will:
- Know and be able to use approximately 20-30 signs
- Have a basic understanding of Deaf culture and how to interact effectively with deaf patrons
- Understand multiple applications of ASL in different library contexts
- Understand how the library can use ASL as a service that ties into the broader community
Kathy and I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and to express our thanks to our followers!
In order to celebrate the season, we suggest reading I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie, by Alison Jackson. New York, Dutton Children’s Books, 1997. This wonderful circle story with rhyming text describes how the old lady devours the Thanksgiving feast and grows larger and larger until the unexpected happens! After reading the story, try some of the following activities with your group.
Reinforce math skills with a Pie Chart.
1. On a piece of large paper or poster board, create a simple chart with three pies listed across the top; apple, pumpkin, and chocolate.
2. Give each child in the group a sticker and have them place the sticker in the column with their favorite pie.
3. Touch and count the number of stickers in each column aloud with the group. Write the total at the bottom of the column.
4. After all the columns are counted, ask the group which was the favorite pie. Review the number of stickers in each column with the children.
Reinforce early literacy skills by retelling the story. Cut food pictures out of magazines or find clip art online and distribute the food pictures to the children. As you retell the story have each child bring up their food item.
Reinforce early literacy skills by creating extensions. Ask the children what they will have for dinner at their Thanksgiving feast. Do they have a favorite item that they would want to keep eating?
Check out the beautiful for our forthcoming book, Baby Storytime Magic: Active Early Literacy through Bounces, Rhymes, Tickles, and More! Coming your way in Spring of 2014 from ALA Editions, this treasure trove of interactive activities for baby storytimes and infant classrooms will give you lots of original and adapted traditional activities to use in your programs, along with ready-to-go literacy bits for each entry to help you share early literacy information with caregivers.
Active Early Literacy through Bounces, Rhymes, Tickles, and More
Betsy Diamant-Cohen, creator of Mother Goose on the Loose, recipient of the 2013 ASCLA Leadership and Professional Achievement Award, and author of many terrific resource books for librarians and early childhood educators, recently shared her review of Little Hands & Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together:
“This is an extraordinary book that has just been published by Huron Street Press, administered through ALA Editions. Author and ASL educator, Kathy MacMillan, has brilliantly combined the world of ASL with early literacy activities and presented them in a format that is easy for librarians to use. Written in understandable language, this book explains why ASL should be used over made-up signs, gives verbal and pictorial demonstrations of rhymes and letters, and describes why signing is beneficial for all children and not just those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
Simple songs (many coined by MacMillan) accompanied by photographs of her son signing, describe children’s everyday activities with a sense of humor, such as “The Stinky Diaper Song.” Creative activities that foster parent/child bonding through ASL include “ASL Kisses” and inventive “Elephant Kisses.” An appendix at the end contains craft templates although many activities are replicable at home and can be created with everyday materials.
The words to be signed in each rhyme or activity are written in ALL CAPS. A photo of either MacMillan or her son visually explains how to create the sign. The black and white photos are not cluttered, they’re pleasant to look at, and direction markings have been added when needed. Though some ASL resources are difficult to interpret, this one includes self-explanatory photographs that are easy to mimic.
MacMillan’s descriptions of everyday life with baby are sometimes supplemented with vignettes about her own son. It is clear that MacMillan knows what she is talking about! ASL solutions are available for the child who takes a long time getting dressed, who doesn’t want to go to sleep, and who is not thrilled about taking a bath. Explanations and research support is seamlessly woven into each activity; their wording can be directly used as developmental tips in any library program with parents.
I am always looking for new rhymes and activities to add to my Mother Goose on the Loose program, and this book has provided me with many! I highly recommend this resource to anyone working with children from birth to age five.”
Looking for a great website that is loaded with free patterns and templates? Kiz Club is for you! Kiz Club Learning Resources for Kids has patterns and templates for everything from alphabet letters to patterns for children’s easy picture books. These patterns can be used to make a story come to life. Use them to retell a story on a flannelboard, or give them to the children so they can be part of the story as you call for an item. These patterns are also great for creating your own craft.
Halloween is the perfect time to talk about feelings with young children – and American Sign Language is a wonderful way to help children connect visual cues with feeling concepts, to help them develop an understanding of their own feelings as well as empathy for the feelings of others. Here’s a fun song to introduce feeling signs to kids. Extend the activity by drawing a simple pumpkin face on a whiteboard and asking the child to help you draw the appropriate expressions for each feeling.
“Pumpkin Feelings” (Click on the links to see videos of the key signs)
- If you’re a sad pumpkin, cry some tears…
- If you’re an angry pumpkin, stomp your feet…
- If you’re a scared pumpkin, curl up into a ball…
- If you’re an excited pumpkin, jump up and down…
Find more hands-on signing activities like this one in Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together by Kathy MacMillan, photographs by Kristin Brown. (Huron Street Press, 2013).
Night Light by Nicholas Blechman. New York, NY: Scholastic, 2013.
This fantastic book combines the joy of a guessing game with counting, and every kid’s favorite – vehicles! On each page a clue is given, “1 Light Shining Bright?” When you turn the page, a wonderful illustration of a vehicle is shown, in this case a train. Have fun reading this book and playing. Some of the vehicles are ones you wouldn’t normally think of, which makes the book even more interesting.
Night Light is an excellent book to use in a preschool storytime. As you read each page, ask the children if they have any idea what the vehicle could be. If they don’t, you can give them another clue, like making the sound of the vehicle. This is an easy way for children to learn problem solving skills as they process the clues.
With the leaves falling in your backyard, it’s a wonderful time to integrate a math activity into your Fall or Leaf storytime.
- Collect a variety of leaves from your yard or neighborhood a week or two prior to the storytime. Make sure they vary in color, size, and type of tree (oak, maple, etc.).
- Dry the leaves by laying them flat between pages of newspaper. Placing books on them will help the leaves dry flat. The dried leaves should keep their color.
- Once leaves are dry, place an assortment in a baggie, making sure that there are some of the same color, size, and variety in each bag. Make sure you have enough bags for each child in the storytime.
- Pass out bags of leaves to the children. Ask the children to do a variety of tasks: count the leaves, group them by color, group them by type, create a pattern (red, brown, yellow, green). This will reinforce many of the early skills needed for children to succeed in math in school.
- When you are done with the leaves, give each child a blank piece of paper and glue stick, and have them create a leaf man or other picture using their leaves.
Research shows that signing with young children of any ability or hearing level can increase IQ, stimulate language learning, enhance bonding, and raise a child’s self-esteem. More importantly to parents and educators, it improves everyday life and communication: a child who can express him or herself with the aid of signs is far less likely to get frustrated and throw tantrums and can initiate conversations about topics that interest him or her, which leads to adults talking more about those topics, which leads to a motivated and interested child absorbing more spoken language, which helps develop spoken language skills. Countless parents, teachers, and caregivers have seen the impact of using even one sign on a regular basis to make their lives with their children more harmonious. Signing with young children offers a communication tool that can assist children and families in communicating and developing a greater understanding of the world.
Signing with children naturally complements other language and literacy activities such as books, fingerplays, rhymes, and songs. Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together offers solid background information on signing with children ages birth to five, along with hands-on games, fingerplays, songs, games, and crafts that caregivers and educators can use to smooth transitions, calm a fussy child, or engage a stubborn one. Photos and descriptions of the relevant signs accompany each activity. All signing vocabulary in this book is American Sign Language (ASL) – which, as a real language with real grammar, stimulates language centers of the brain unlike the made-up gestures found in some “baby signing” books.
Kathy MacMillan brings three different perspectives to this valuable resource: that of a nationally certified interpreter, fluent in American Sign Language; that of a librarian and educator experienced with engaging children in early literacy; and that of a mom who knows the frustrations and joys of living every day with a young child. With stories, songs, rhymes, and activities field-tested in Kathy’s “Little Hands Signing” classes for children and parents, and in her own home, she focuses is on practical applications of the signs you can use every day to make your life with your child or students both easier and more fulfilling!