The Treasure Chest
by Kathleen Kelly MacMillan,
Maryland School for the Deaf
The Treasure Chest
VHS, 30 minutes
In ASL and English
Wide-Eyed Learning, 2003
Video alone: $14.99
Basic Starter Kit (includes video and Beginner Handbook--a hands-on guide with step-by-step instruction on how to get started signing, how to make signing a natural part of your everyday interaction with your child, and how to use signs to build intimacy and self-esteem.): $24.99
Complete Starter Kit (includes video, Beginner Handbook and Intermediate Handbook): $37.99
This production, geared squarely for hearing children and their parents, uses a tried and true formula to introduce basic American Sign Language sign vocabulary for young children. Each segment focuses on toys and activities that are a familiar part of the child’s world, such as hats, dogs, bears, and airplanes. A teddy bear host with gloved human hands introduces each sign. This is followed by colorful graphics featuring different representations of the object or concept, often showing bright-faced young children playing, alternated with repetitions of the sign by various children. The English word also appears on the screen at least once during each segment. Other signs, such as “please”, “doll”, and “what”, are introduced in the course of the segments, though they are not emphasized or repeated. A few songs are interspersed throughout, and these show groups of hearing children singing while signing isolated words. The video closes with series creator Michelle Anthony offering tips to parents for incorporating signs into daily activities with young children, and for promoting speech development by coordinating words with signs.
What sets this series apart is not so much the format or information on the video, but the excellent handbooks that accompany it. Available in Beginner and Intermediate levels, these handbooks give parents solid, practical information on the benefits of using sign language with young children, answers to questions about specific scenarios, and a dictionary of signs illustrated by photographs of both adults and children demonstrating each sign, accompanied by a written description. The books also include ideas for incorporating sign language into the additional fingerplays and songs which are provided.This video is very much geared to hearing children and hearing parents. It makes heavy use of music and voiceover. Much of the content is not signed, and none of it is captioned. As Dr. Anthony discusses in the final segment, it emphasizes the use of signs for basic communication with pre-verbal children, and as a tool for emphasizing and learning spoken language.