Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Using Sign Language in Primary


While we were in Utah, we attended church in a deaf ward.  

It was so neat to watch my brother-in-law bless his child using sign language, to sing hymns as the congregation signed, and to watch the Sacrament being blessed with signs. People prayed with their eyes open to see what was being said.  :)  And everyone helped each other.

I especially enjoyed watching a little Primary child pray using sign language.  I could feel the spirit as I watched the music leader lead the children in songs all sung with sign language and to watch my sister-in-law tell a story to the primary children about a time that she felt the spirit as a little girl.

I immediately noticed Autumn trying to imitate the signs.  She told me she didn't want to go back to our primary because it was too boring.  Why?  Because we don't use signs!

Lots of the hearing cousins picked up signs just from attending primary, even my older nieces came home from Young Women's having learned signs like "covenant" and "ordinance" and proudly showed them to us.

I loved how welcoming the ward was and how they tried hard to make sure we understood what was being said.  It made me wonder if we are doing enough in our hearing wards to make sure that children (and others) who are deaf or have other disabilities are able to participate in church lessons.

Sign language is not just for kids with hearing impairment.  Signs can be used by hearing children to simply engage them more in the lesson and allow them to be "active" while learning.   

While we were visiting, the children were learning a song about baptism.  We learned the sign for baptism and whenever we did that sign, we were asked to stand.  This made the lesson very fun and interactive...and I will probably never forget the sign for baptism!

I would encourage anyone who is serving in the Primary to look into learning basic signs to help all children learn and to help children with disabilities participate more actively and to feel included in their Primary family.

Here are a list of basic signs that might be helpful if used in a Primary setting:
baptism, pray, Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, please, thank you, help, blessings, family, always, scriptures, prophet, commandment, Amen.

You might think about matching just one sign with each month's theme and teaching it to your Primary children.  And if you have a child with disabilities of any kind, you might approach the parents of that child and discuss signing or other special ways that their child might communicate with you and others in Primary.

Click here to learn how to sign all of the Primary songs.
Click here for a DICTIONARY OF LDS SIGNS.

12 comments:

  1. I used sign language a few years ago to get through Sacrament meeting. I was burned out..and needed something to enhance my Sunday experience. So, as the speakers spoke, I would sign the main topic words. I stopped thinking about who was up there, but what they were saying..the words they were saying. the meaning of the words...the signs. Then, last year, I taught the Primary to sign the chorus of I am a Child of God. I no longer am reverently waving my hands about in Sacrament meeting, but it certainly helped me when I was in a slump!

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  2. It seems to be popular for new moms to teach their little ones signing. My dg-in-law did then wondering why her child not 2 years old wasn't speaking more. Well, he didn't need to...lol!

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    1. We used signing with our kids and Guy especially learned to talk well and early...even identifying all of his letters by 18 months. Kids love to sign!

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  3. What an awesome post and I think you have some excellent ideas for Primary. I am the Sunbeam teacher and I loved these ideas and will share them.
    Blessings for this one!

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  4. wondering if the LDS's church handbook for the LDS signs is still available in hardcopy. I was only able to find it as a digitial when I took the ASL classes. Our signs are slightly different, sometimes, than ASL.

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    1. I agree, that would be wonderful. In looking online I could only see the primary hymns in ASL (video form) I'm sure one could pick up a lot of gospel-specific ASL signs from those videos. When I was at the distribution center there seemed to be quite a few ASL resources. I will have to check again.

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  5. There is also a signed dictionary on lds.org under disability teaching. FYI

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    1. Thank you! I was looking for one and wasn't able to locate it...this is great. I will add it to the post, thank you!

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  6. When I was primary chorister I incorporated a lot of signs as I taught the kids the songs. I felt that it helped them learn songs faster because creating muscle memories strengthened their neural pathways. I also found that our singing was more spiritually powerful because we were "singing" with our bodies as well as our mouths.

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    1. I wholeheartedly understand how that would be very spiritual! Awesome!

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  7. We've faced inclusion issues in our ward already with our 7th child, Mason. He's 2 and a perfectly typical, smart, talkative, mischievious little boy. He also has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair because his legs are paralyzed. Nursery has been a challenge (when toys are dumped everywhere he can't go anywhere with his wheelchair, most of the activity songs they were in the habit of singing involved getting up and walking around, when he's on the floor children step on him and he can't feel it so he needs watched closely to make sure nobody accidentally breaks his legs whose bones are not as strong as a typical child's, and on and on). We're working with his leaders to learn how to make every child welcome in Primary! It's an adventure for sure. We love ASL and often use it when learning things at home.

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