Our first experience with using the manual alphabet with spelling was when our oldest daughter was in second grade. Her teacher was fluent in ASL and he would use signs in the classroom to enrich his teaching. Each week he would have the students practice their spelling words by using the manual alphabet to decode each one (try it now). Then they would finger spell each word. This was one of our daughter’s favorite homework assignments!
When we discovered that our second daughter had a speech problem, we included the use of ASL in her Individual Education Plan (IEP). It helped that her Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) is a huge fan of Signing Time! Each week her SLP would spend time saying and fingerspelling her spelling words with her. They would also use signs to help her with her speech word list. Since finger spelling is tactile, it uses a different part of the brain than speech. Signing and finger spelling helps her remember sounds and letters more easily, so she doesn’t get as frustrated. For example, if she gets stuck on a word while reading out loud, she uses finger spelling to focus on the sound of each letter until she can sound it out. She was able to have the same second grade teacher as our oldest daughter. Not only did she excel is spelling, but her overall speech skills improved as well in this ASL rich classroom.
The ABC Wall Chart is a great resource for home, child care, or classroom. It shows uppercase and lowercase letters with the five vowels in green and the consonants in blue. Ideal for teaching younger children alphabet as well as practicing their manual alphabet.
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