Friday, November 1, 2013

Teach Baby to Sign - The Best DVDs

My baby looks quizzically at me, "Babagagadadamama...da."Yes, well, fascinating. Perhaps you want a hug? or this toy?More emphatically, "BABAGAGAdadamama....da."You make a good point kiddo, unfortunately I do not know what it is. Are you wet? You just ate, so you aren't hungry.Now she is starting to get frustrated: "BABAGAGA WAHHH WAHHH."What does she want? Wouldn't it be great if she could just tell me? This exactly the sort of scenario that creates the market for baby signing DVDs. These companies want parents to know that baby can communicate through sign language before he or she is ready for complex speech.And what do you know? They are right! I've personally seen dozens of babies, just a month or two older than mine, signing to express themselves. Having seen baby signs in action, my next question was whether or not teaching my baby to sign would benefit our family.According to the latest research signing seems to actually accelerate and enhance speaking and learning! Not only that, but signing has been known to head off toddler tantrums. Because your tot can tell you what he wants, he doesn't need to throw a fit. That alone is worth it.Not having any prior signing experience, I wanted a DVD to supplement our learning. We tested all of the likely contenders: Baby Signing Time, Baby Einstein - My First Signs, My Baby Can Talk - First Signs, Baby See N Sign Vol 1.Overall, I was impressed by the quality of these videos. My baby was mesmerized by all of these, except Baby See N Sign. Our favorite was Baby Signing Time.Baby Signing TimeBaby's reaction: giggling, waving, attempting to clap and comically missing the other hand, smiling and laughing when I make the signs.My reaction: To be upfront, Rachel Coleman is perkier than Daddy's coffee, but babies seem to like that stuff. Her signing is the clearest of any of the video hosts we watched and she uses a special technique, wrapping her fingers in colored tape, to make them even clearer.I like that the vast majority of the video is adults, children, and babies interacting. There are also cartoon shorts sprinkled throughout. In thematic sections, signs are introduced, demonstrated, illustrated, repeated, and then eventually combined.Coleman's original songs give this video an edge--the perfect audio and visual learning experience for parents and babies who are signing beginners. And, if you enjoy Baby Signing Time 1, there is a volume 2, an entire series for children, and plenty of other written materials, CDs, and more.Coleman's story is incredibly compelling; I recommend visiting the website even just to read about her and her family! Signing Time is so confident in their product, they offer free sample clips on their website. Their website is also a great resource with forums, crafts, and activity guides.Just the Facts:Signs include: Eat, Drink, Cracker, Water, Cereal, Milk, Banana, Juice, Finished, Mom, Grandma, Dad, Grandpa, Diaper, Potty, More, Bird, Fish, Cat, Dog, Horse, Frog, Hurt, Where, BabyBonus materials include: information and tips on teaching your baby to sign, a sneak preview of Vol. 2, and Rachel signing the theme songRun time: 30 minutes + special featuresBaby Einstein - My First Signs Baby's Reaction: staring, and more staringMy reaction: I prefer My First Signs over other Baby Einstein selections. The video still has the puppets, including an adorable family of cat-like creatures, but far fewer segments focused on the toys. The hostess is the accomplished actress, Marlee Matlin, and she is warm and pleasant in this video. Baby Einstein seems to have learned from the critiques of its Language Nursery--First Signs teaches actual signs connected with corresponding images, rather than providing a random, impressionistic introduction.There are lots of smiling babies and adults interacting and some artwork. As with all of the videos I reviewed, adults, toddlers, and older kids demonstrate the signs. Overall, this is a fine introduction to signing with baby.Just the Facts:Signs include: Baby, Daddy, Mommy, Kiss, I Love You, Milk, Cereal, Eat, More, Play, Help, Friend, Ball, I Love You, Stop, Go, Sleep, Bath, Story, Blanket, Please, Thank YouBonus material includes: Discovery Cards (Opposites: Movie Flashcards): Boy, Girl, Happy, Sad, Clean, Dirty, Up, Down, Hot, Cold, In, Out; Sign With Me (Flash Cards): Signs in the DVD; Signing with Baby (Basic Signs): Yes, No, Good, Bad, Water, Want, Share, Potty, Hurt, Sorry, Hug, Love; Puppet Shows; Toy ChestRun Time: 27 minutes + special features Baby EinsteinMy Baby Can Talk - First SignsBaby's reaction: Stared for a while, then eventually got distractedMy reaction: A decent, if somewhat uneven video. As with most of the videos, there are lots of nice images and smiling babies and kids.Although the video says it is for 10-36 months in the tutorial, I think this video is aimed older than the others I viewed. As fun as it is to learn the sign for giraffe, I think most babies are more interested in milk.Toddlers and pre-schoolers may also appreciate that a young child combines signs and explains when you use the signs ("please helps you get cereal"). Another feature describes how to form the sign: "like smelling a flower."There are some fun mini-skits and rhymes ("Socks that are little, socks that are big, socks on a bear, socks on a pig"). True, the "raps" do not have the highest production values, but a baby won't care. The video also has some fascinating information for adults about sign language, such as how the signs were created.Just the Facts: Signs include: Monkey, Cereal, Please, Thank You, Flower, Hat, Baby, Ball, Boat, Share, Giraffe, Apple, Help, Mommy, Socks, Balloon, Bath, Airplane, Cracker, Lion, Shirt, Tree, Daddy, Elephant, Diaper, Train, Sleep, All DoneRun time: 45 minutes including parent tutorial