Looking to spruce up your preschool storytime with something fresh, diverse, and action-oriented? Perhaps you may like to steal this American Sign Language (ASL)/Quasi-Valentine’s Day themed storytime :
Length of program: Approx. 30 minutes, give or take a few for the craft activity
Music Activity: ASL Animal Song
Begin by demonstrating the signs for each animal. Have the children watch you, then copy the movements. Don’t worry if they are not executing the signs perfectly. The idea is to get the basic handshape and general movement. Sing the song a few times. To add a little silliness, toss in some signs for slightly more exotic animals (such as MONKEY, ELEPHANT, or KANGAROO.
Settle Down Activity: Demonstrate the sign for STORYTIME. (You can also ask the kids why they think that particular hand movement is used to represent “story.”)
Book: The Big Blue Bowl: Sign Language for Food by Dawn Babb Prochovnic, illustrated by Stephanie Bauer
For my storytime, I chose a book from the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes series, designed to introduce young children to ASL. If you have access to this series, or the Moses books, great! If not, you can adapt any simple, repetitive story for a beginning ASL program. Simple folktales and cumulative stories replete with common nouns work wonderfully.
The idea is to choose words that are repeated in the story and teach the children the sign. As the word is repeated again and again, ask the children to sign it with you. Choose between three to six signs to avoid overwhelming them.
Since this type of read aloud will start and stop as you demonstrate new signs, it will take longer than the average storytime book. If you have enough time, read the book once for the sole purpose of teaching the relevant signs. Once the children are confident using the signs, read it again. (n.b., If you are flying solo, you will be turning the pages and trying to demonstrate the signs. This can be a bit of a challenge, but not impossible. If you can get a helper to turn pages while you sign, that’s the smoothest way to go. Otherwise, it is perfectly okay to pause and lay the book in your lap as you demonstrate new vocabulary.)
Craft/Takeaway: ASL Valentine
Demonstrate the sign for I LOVE YOU.
Have each child trace their hand on cardstock or construction paper and cut it out.
Glue onto a large heart or a nice piece of craft paper. Decorate using crayons, sequins, and if you’re truly ambitious, glitter.
Bend down the ring finger and the middle fingers and glue them to the palm. It should look something like this: