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Music & Movement: Storytelling with Music and American Sign Language

Over the summer, I have been working with the Maryland Deaf Culture Digital Library to put together a special storytime program that would be fun and accessible for our both hearing and deaf patrons. And implementation time has arrived!

This program is a special storytime for all ages but content-wise is specifically targeted to ages 0-5, with their grownups. What we wanted to do in this storytime, was to incorporate our summer reading theme of music, while teaching some sign language–hence the music and movement theme.

To help me with this storytime, I have deaf mother Roberta Mather. Roberta will be signing everything for us and teaching us how to sign some of the words in our songs.

I set this up with an introduction to the program and the positive aspects of incorporating, not only music and movement but also sign language into a child’s routine. Then we jumped right in.

The four songs we did were: The More We Get Together, The ABC’s, BINGO and Old MacDonald had a farm. If you want my outline or powerpoint with the highlighted words, let me know. WordPress won’t let me format it correctly on here.

The More We Get Together–this one is actually really easy to sign. We learned the whole song and opened and closed the program with it.

The ABC’s–we went through the alphabet once with the kids and then we put it together with the song. I had practice sheets they could take home. For the other songs we highlighted specific words. So, even though Roberta was signing the whole song the kids knew to focus on just the signs they learned.

BINGO–We learned how to sign “dog” and then we did our finger spelling for B-I-N-G-O.

Old MacDonald Had A Farm–For this one we used our finger spelling for E-I-E-I-O but we also learned the sign for “farm,” “cow,” “pig,” “chicken” and “sheep.” As we moo moo’ed the kids would do their animal sign. We had a lot of fun with this one.

To make this a visually accessible as possible, I created a powerpoint that I projected onto a screen off to the right of the room. This way, people could reference it for the words if they wanted to.

After we learned these songs and went through them a few times, I passed out instruments and we told a musical version of the three little pigs. I did a play on the version from Let’s Play Kids Music.

What I wanted to do was to inject music and action into the story, so it was like the kids were telling the story with me.

  1. We shook our shaker eggs when the first little pig build his straw house.

  2. We hit our rhythm sticks when the second little pig built his hour of sticks.

  3. We used our percussion instruments when the third little pig built his brick house.

  4. We slapped our legs when the pigs were running from the wolf.

  5. We helped the wolf blow the houses down and when they were down we stomped our feet.

This is something you could do with any version of the three little pigs. Even if you don’t have the instruments handy, just clapping, stomping or slapping your thighs can add action and an interactive element to the story.

How’d it go: This program went great and definitely makes me want to continue doing something like this in the future. Roberta, myself and the interpreter all worked really well together. I’d like to use a story that is more narrative driven next time but other than that I was extremely satisfied with the way things went.

That’s all for now!


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