Sign Language for Kids
Video Review by Chris Wixtrom © 2000
Sign Language for Kids: Everyday Words and Phrases
VHS, 25 minutes, 1999
Voice, some signing, no captions
For ages 6 months and up.
Pleasant and well-paced, this video introduces hearing babies, children and adults to "seventy useful words and phrases in American Sign Language." Viewers follow the children from wake-up time to bed-time, picking up signs here and there as they talk about what they are doing. The presenter signs only one or two of the words she speaks in each scene. This limits the amount of new learning material, helping young children focus on these few signs.
Settings are familiar: a child's bedroom, the kitchen, waiting for the school bus, playing at the park, and then back home again. A sequence on animal signs presents the sign for each animal and then a clip with the dog, cat, horse, cow, or pig in action.
Drawbacks noted include the impossibly fast demonstration of the manual alphabet through "the alphabet song," the tendency of signers to sign in front of their faces, and the sometimes stiffly posed manner of presentation. Another video is available from this publisher which teaches the manual alphabet; perhaps this companion title makes up for the speedy ABC run-through in this one. "Sign Language for Kids" doesn't pretend to teach the fullness of American Sign Language. It does a good job of entertaining very young children (infants to six years of age) while clearly presenting a sampling of signs. It's a start.