Praise for Sharon Weisz’ WeeHands classes!

July 09 2012
We just received this fantastic praise for Sharon Weisz' baby sign language classes. Sharon is a certified and licensed WeeHands Instructor as well as a speech-language pathologist!

Sign language class was the best thing EVER! Ethan can sign: milk, water, yummy (he does that when he wants food), more, bath, please, eat, and the Korean thank you (which is a bow). He's just a little signing machine. It's so cute!"

"Bath is my favourite, because he'll go to the bathroom door and do his interpretation of the sign, which is a bit like a one armed chicken! He even does some songs with me, like "Wheels on the Bus." Most of them he can do if we say the words in English or Korean...which we're happy about!”

Congratulations Sharon! You can find out more about Sharon's WeeHands classes here:

Sharing the ABC's

June 02 2012
Today's blog post comes from Julie Walker, a newly licensed WeeHands Instructor who is setting up her WeeHands classes soon in the Scottsdale, Arizona area.

Today I told one of the parents of a child I work with about this my WeeHands Instructor’s certification training and she was very excited about it!  This mother is taking the signs that I teach her and using them with her child every day.  She looks forward to the day when her child will start signing to her.  

I also read an ABC book with a group of children and they loved doing the signs as we read the book. The mother of one of the children got very excited and the mother learned all of the ABC's by the time we finished!  I was also very happy because one of the children in the group, who has a disability and struggles with communicating, started imitating some of the alphabet as we sang the song!

Julie Walker is a developmental specialist and work with 0-3 year olds with disabilites or delays.  Julie graduated from Arizona State University in Marriage, Family and Human Development and has worked in the field of Early Intervention the past 5 years. She is a Developmental Specialist and work with children ages 0-3 with disabilities and delays.  

You can get in touch with Julie by email at or through her webpage

Meeting Marlee

May 21 2012
Sara Bingham and Marlee Matlin
If you haven't already...take a look at our Facebook page and see who I met this weekend at the Canadian Down Syndrome Society annual conference!

Marlee, who is an Academy Award winning actress, author, mother, and advocate, was the (amazing!) key note speaker and I presented the following day (our Enhancing Language and Lessening Frustrations presentation).

Marlee spoke on the theme of inclusion and shared her insights from her own education and then life in Hollywood.  Just a few gems that she shared include:

  • "If you will it, it's not a dream.", 
  • "Walk around barriers that are put in front of you!"; 
  • "The formula for success for our children is our teachers"; 
  • "Language is vitally important to teaching a child who is Deaf"; 
  • "Communication and meaning flowed into my life when I learned how to sign
  • "Frustrations come easy when you can't communicate or connect with the world in a way you want."

The whole weekend was incredible. It was so special to present, when I usually present to child care staff, to parents with children with Down syndrome. It was an incredible feeling and just an honor to present to them!

Road Trip for Language Development

March 26 2012
The spring conference season has started and it's a fun one! This season WeeHands Instructors have been presenting to Head Start organizations in Atlanta, Georgia and Miramar, Florida. My own road trip plans include:

Road trip #1: travelling to the Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children Annual conference held March 16-17, 2012 in Westford, Massachusetts. The theme for this conference is "Our Link to the Future" and I presented on the topics of language development, using sign language with young children and behaviour difficulties. I was also very lucky because Ford Canada lent me this shiny red Focus to take me to Massachusetts! I'd never driven a car that talked to was great company!

The MassAEYC was an incredibly well organized conference and I met so many amazing and inspiring educators as well as area businesses. I don't think I spoke with one person who was unfamiliar with the idea of using sign language with young children!  So many of the staff from different centres shared that they were teaching their children sign well as Spanish and Mandarin! Amazing!

One of the highlights of my trip to Massachusetts had to be actually meeting face to face with one our fantastic WeeHands Instructors, Courtney Koumjian. Courtney has been teaching with WeeHands for over four years and it was wonderful to meet and catch up in person! Courtney and all the other super friendly faces I made my trip!

What's next? This week, I'm on my way to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children annual conference. I'll also be speaking there about language development as well as on multilingual classrooms.  After this conference, I'll be coming back to Toronto to speak at theHolland Bloorview Children's Centre to speak with their volunteers on Saturday March 31st.

That's it for March and now onto April!

Road trip #3: I'll be travelling on Wednesday April 18th to go to the New York State Association for the Education of Young Children annual conference held in Buffalo, NY.  I'll also be speaking there about language development .

Road trip #4: travelling on Wednesday April 25th to go to the Indiana Early Childhood Conference annual conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I'll also be speaking there about language development.

Lots more pictures and stories to follow!

Baby Signing Time - Review (cont'd)

February 23 2012
By Jessica Green

There are many good qualities to this video such as the video involves cartoon characters as well as a real person. It involved real people more than the cartoons but if a child’s attention started to wonder that’s when the cartoons came back on screen. This video had a lot of children making the signs themselves to show how easy it is for children to make signs. I found that this particular video seemed to be for more of an older audience and I think this because the signs where performed by older toddlers.

I liked how the chapters of the video where broken down into groups of objects, so I could find signs that I was looking for, such as the food category where the actress was wearing a bib and teaching food as well as drink signs. I really enjoyed how there was a signing review at the end of the video so I could test myself on the signs that this video had taught me. I learned a lot of new signs from this video as well as a few new songs that I think are very catchy and where easy to learn.

Something I have never seen on a signing video was having a Frequently Asked Questions part in the video, such as why the actress’s fingers are colour coded and getting the answer to your question. Another thing I haven’t seen in signing videos was bloopers at the end of it, which showed me that even professionals can make  mistakes with their signs and signing takes practice.

Jessica Green is an Early Childhood Educator and is currently enrolled in the Communicative Disorders Assistant program at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario.

Learn & Share the ASL Sign for NIGHT!

January 28 2012
Here is this week's free "Sign of the Week" poster! 

This week's sign is NIGHT. Show this sign to your baby when it gets dark out and at bedtime. Sign NIGHT, as well, when reading books, like "Goodnight Moon"! 

Click on the mini-poster image below to download your poster...and don't forget to share it with friends!

Sign to Learn

January 22 2012
By Tina Lalonde

A review of the book “Sign to Learn: American Sign Language in the Early Childhood Classroom” by Kristen Dennis and Tressa Azpiri

What a great resource to keep on hand!  I found this book easy to read, well organized and full of useful tips and suggestions.  I also found the book to be very respectful of the Deaf culture and felt the authors achieved their goal of making the reader aware of the importance of knowing some Deaf history. I thought the following statement really sums up the whole idea of cultural respect, “One of the most meaningful ways to show respect to Deaf culture as a hearing person using sign language with hearing students is to use true ASL and use it correctly.” 

I have run into many parents who chose to teach their young babies sign or are interested in sign but have pieced together some fragments and made up signs altogether.  Both of these groups had no knowledge of Deaf culture, or how insulting they could potentially be coming across.  It was almost as if they felt this language existed solely for their babies’ benefit and could not see beyond that. I also liked that the author mentioned the use of “sign names” and how it should be discouraged. 
In chapter 5 of “Sign to Learn”, I was happy to discover the authors supporting the idea of using letter sounds in place of their name while teaching literacy through games and sign.  I have tried to implement this technique at home with my own children and it was nice to see this strategy being reinforced in such a well written book. 

I thought the idea, in chapter 6 under the heading “Effectively Redirect Behavior”, regarding how personalized sign language can be between two people another very good reason to use this approach. “It is just between you and the child” - I found this to be so true when my daughters were little.  I could easily and privately gain their attention and either makes a request, let them know we would be leaving soon or remind them about manners, without being beside them or signaling them out among the other children playing. If the message was a warning or stern reminder about a behavior they were exhibiting, I feel the kids responded and internalized the whole experience more positively than when I would reprimand them out loud in front of others.  Just as we would respond better to a private conversation from a superior than being signaled out in front of the entire office staff.

I really enjoyed the authors including suggestions throughout the book on ways to implement their ideas.  How and when to use Deaf volunteers, incorporating signs into everyday tasks as a way to reinforce (who is wearing [sign] red? you may get your [sign] jacket) and activity ideas. Having not flipped through the book prior to reading, I was thrilled when I got to chapter 7 and realized they had included whole lesson plan ideas! The addition of these extra materials, theme ideas as well as songs and signs truly makes this book a keeper that can be used over and over.

Tina Lalonde is the mother of three great girls and is currently enrolled in the Communicative Disorders Assistant program at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario. You can follow find Tina on Twitter here: @canadianyetti

Hands on Literacy - Review

January 17 2012
By Leah Delli Colli

Learning to read does not happen in one day. It involves a long process of learning over many years. The best time for children to start learning to read is when they are very young. Studies have shown that children, who learn sign language at a young age, become better readers and start reading earlier. 

Hands On Literacy by Trish Peterson offers families great tips to making a more literacy-enriched home. Every parent wants their children to be interested in books, however it is easy to make some common mistakes without knowing that your overwhelming your young child. Here is a list of some quick tips to making your home a more accessible reading environment.

Make sure books are age appropriate: Be aware of the books around your house. Read them through yourself. Just because it looks like a children’s book, it’s not always the case. Focus on pages with minimal words and lots of pictures.

Separate books from toys: Your child needs to learn books are not toys. Keep them separate from toy areas or rooms. Keeping them in their room is a good idea, making the bedroom a place to be calm and available to curl up with a good book.

Make reading a part of your daily routine:  Make it a priority to read with your child at least once a day. When starting, don’t choose long books. Keep it short and simple to keep your child engaged. If they are losing interest, end the book short.

Don’t overwhelm your child: Keep a basket in the child’s room with 5 books. One should be their favorite, and the others should be changed every couple of weeks. That way your child doesn’t become overwhelmed by too many choices and can be excited about the new arrivals!

Be a good role model: It is easy to become wrapped up in a world of technology and screens, but it’s important for us all to unplug and unwind. Your child is always watching. Be conscious of reading and writing in front of your child. If they see you enjoying a book, they’ll want to do the same. 

Peterson’s engaging book also provides detailed activities and games for specific age groups that promote literacy while incorporating sign. These activities focus on children ranges 2 through 5 years. Along with the activities are milestones that are usually met at each age group. The activities focus on meeting these milestones and advancing to more challenging ones. 

Literacy enriches children’s lives in countless ways. Reading helps all aspects of communication and opens a world of imagination for your child. Armed with Peterson’s great activities and helpful tips for shaping your home, your young child will be reading and enjoying the world of literacy in no time!

Leah Delli Colli has a Bachelor of Arts in Speech & Language Sciences from Brock University and is currently enrolled in the Communicative Disorders Assistant program at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario. You can follow Leah on Twitter here: @LeahDC

Baby Signing Time - Review

January 11 2012
By Tina Lalonde

I put this video on our TV. while my 4 year old was playing quietly in the family room with some toys. I was curious what her reaction to the Baby Signing Time - Let’s Be Friends video might be and did not want to influence her in any way so I said nothing to her before I put it on. As soon as she saw the little babies and young children in the video, she dropped what she was doing and stood in front of the TV! She began trying to sing along and mimic their actions. She was mesmerized!

I really liked how well this video was made.  The incorporation of songs and upbeat music to continually show each sign being made by children helped to keep her interest.  The rapid screen change from child to child, who each performed the target sign, kept my daughter engaged and allowed her plenty of opportunity to practice positioning her fingers until she could be successful.  This video claims to be geared toward children 3 months to 3 years.  My 4 year old loves anything to do with real babies so this video spoke straight to her.  What I found even more amazing than my younger daughters total participation and interest in the video was the interest my 10 year old daughter showed!  She had been playing on the computer but decided to join us by the TV when she saw us having fun.  She enjoyed encouraging her little sister and poking fun at the songs.  Even though she thought she was acting appropriately “cool” she was sitting there, watching the 45 min. video and taking in all the signs.      

The narrator, “Rachel,” came across as animated, enthusiastic and warm.  We all had to laugh out loud when the food section of the video began and Rachel was wearing a big white bib! 

Overall, I found this video to be two thumbs up!! The pace of the signs being presented was good.  There were multiple opportunities to practice each sign along with other children demonstrating them and the vocabulary choices blended well together.  It was a fun way to spend some time together with two of my daughters in the afternoon and a chance to see what we could remember in the evening over dinner.  It was time well spent.

Tina Lalonde is the mother of three great girls and is currently enrolled in the Communicative Disorders Assistant program at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario. You can follow find Tina on Twitter here: @canadianyetti

Sign with your Baby - Product Review

January 05 2012
By Leah Delli Colli

Whether its new parents, caregivers or educators, we all are itching to know what’s going on in infant’s minds. Now more than ever it’s easy to get a snapshot into the meaning behind those laughs, cries or babbles. Sign with your baby by Dr. Joseph Garcia provides viewers with information, motivation, tips, tricks and everything in between to communicating with your infant before they can speak. Through teaching sign language to children, they are able to communicate their needs and wants before the muscles used for speech can catch up to their always-learning minds. This ability to communicate with adults eases caregiver anxiety about knowing why the child is crying, while offering immediate gratification and rewards in mutual understanding.

The instructional DVD allows viewers to know when’s best to start signing, what signs to start with, when to introduce new signs. It also followed families and their journeys and experiences of signing with their young children and the successes they’ve experienced. The DVD left me feeling motivated and confident in introducing sign language to infants. The package also comes with a book which further investigates the countless benefits signing with infants brings to families and educators. The book gives deeper insight into:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       Understanding the infant’s perspective
·       Answers common questions and concern
·       Being aware of various types of gazes and how to effectively incorporate sign
·      Vocabulary guide of 100+ signs

As the package states, it is never too late to start signing; sign language can facilitate language at any age. Imagine what a great feeling it would be to see your child crying, and be able to immediately give them a bandaid and a hug because your child was able to sign “hurt” over his/her knee. Sign with your baby makes this idea possible and easy! With patience, repetition and love yourchild could be asking for "more juice" before he/she can even say mom!

Leah Delli Colli has a Bachelor of Arts in Speech & Language Sciences from Brock University and is currently enrolled in the Communicative Disorders Assistant program at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario. You can follow Leah on Twitter here: @LeahDC